The New Reality of Remote Work

One of the lasting impacts of the pandemic has been the wholesale reassessment of where and how work gets done.

Today, leading business publications and analysts have documented an increased preference by employees for greater workplace flexibility — including the ability to work remotely. Inc. Magazine recently reported that almost 43% of workers say they are quitting to find jobs that can be done remotely. With this increasing focus on remote work and flexibility, product development leaders are seeking to ensure their teams have the remote access technology they need to address this new reality.

Product development firms seek to improve their ability to respond to these trends by examining their current product development technology. They are discovering that their existing file-based CAD software, with expensive, on-premise workstations and servers, is simply not capable of addressing the needs of their increasingly remote workforce. They are instead turning to digital and cloud-native solutions that empower workers and improve flexibility as to where and when work is done.

In addition to the challenges of remote access, designers and engineers using file-based CAD face the additional challenges of simply accessing and locating their correct design files. The State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2021 survey found that over 80%, or 4 out of 5, professionals indicated that simply accessing or locating their design data was a challenging time waster.

Workplace Flexibility and Productivity for Product Development Teams

The benefits of workplace flexibility and allowing employees to work remotely extend well beyond pleasing employees. The State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2021 report found a correlation between firms that embrace workplace flexibility and increased productivity. By a significant margin, firms that rated themselves as placing a high value on a flexible workspace also reported higher levels of productivity. The survey questions included,

On questions ranging from “the firm’s ability to effectively support work from home,” “flexibility for when and where they work,” and whether a firm “highly values the use of remote collaboration tools,” the difference was significant. In fact, the gap between firms with “excellent or good” productivity versus those reporting “average” or lower productivity was in excess of 30% points.

Workplace Flexibility — Views Vary between Engineers and Executives

Another key finding from the 2021 industry survey report is data indicating that rank and file workers and executives hold different perspectives on how well firms are addressing the challenge of workplace flexibility.

The report found that company executives had a much rosier view of how well their firms were performing compared to employees. In fact, when it comes to rating a company’s ability to “provide employees the tools and processes they need to effectively work from home,” designers and engineers rated their company a full 10 percentage points lower than executives.

Clearly, this large gap in perception is concerning to executives who are seeking to ensure their organizations are flexible and addressing the needs of their workforce.

Enhanced Work Flexibility with the Cloud

Today, firms seeking to address the new reality of remote work, empower employees, and improve business agility and flexibility are turning toward cloud-based product development solutions.

Only the cloud provides teams with the ability to gain anywhere, anytime access to design documents regardless of location. In addition to using the cloud, remote employees can work together on the same design document at the same time — improving alignment and efficiency in the design process.

With the “single source of truth” of the cloud, users can rest assured that they are always accessing the most up-to-date version of the design document — eliminating uncertainty and version control headaches. The cloud effectively breaks down the traditional data silos common to file-based CAD and expedites each of the design, review and release phases of product development. By enabling colleagues to stay connected with one another and reduce the friction of traditional file-based CAD, users are improving product development processes and business flexibility.

As product leaders seek to improve their firm’s ability to address the changing workplace, they are seeking technologies that provide maximum flexibility. Increasingly, these firms are seeking cloud-based solutions that keep employees productive regardless of location, and also improve operational efficiency. With the cloud, users now have the freedom to devote more time to  improving the quality of their designs and spend less time on breaking down data silos and overcoming  administrative hassles.

Interested in learning more about potential areas of improvement for your product development team? In addition to exploring the need for workplace flexibility, the 2021 industry survey also offers insights on the following topics:

  • Data Management Challenges – Half of on-premise PDM/PLM users say that their software gets in the way of team collaboration and slows down the overall product design process. While 45% say PDM has only replaced one problem (version control) with another problem (delays).

  • The Perception Gap – Executives consistently have a rosier view of their design capabilities than project managers or individual contributors. These differing perspectives about team strengths and weaknesses could possibly lead to unrealistic timetables for delivering on deadlines – or be a sign of poor internal communication.

  • Reducing Wasted Time – 85% of teams say they sometimes can’t access the correct version of their design data; while 83% say they sometimes can’t even find it in a timely manner. Another 71% of teams say they have lost work due to CAD system crashes and data corruption.

  • Pandemic Impact  – As a result of the product development lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, 63% of engineering professionals say remote collaboration tools are now more of a company priority. Another 58% of respondents say they now have a greater need for seamless access to design documents from any location.

  • The Generation Gap – Across multiple categories, Millennial and Gen Z engineers give their employers lower scores for offering workplace flexibility and for enabling real-time access to information than their later-career colleagues. This perception gap is important for executives to consider as they think about their future recruiting efforts.


Download your free copy now and discover the best opportunities for improving business agility, by understanding the The State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2021: