HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism released a report on how many employees in Hawaii were working remotely as of Aug. 31, 2021.

The report stems from two different surveys that surveyed over 1,661 employers across the state between September 2021 to January. DBEDT said 861 surveys were completed from firms in Honolulu County, 316 from Hawai’i County, 314 from Maui County and 170 from Kaua’i County.

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According to the surveys, an estimated 198,224 or 42.4% of private-sector payroll employees were working remotely beginning Aug. 31, 2021, including those working from out-of-state.

Out of 176,610 employees that were surveyed only 5,451 were qualified to take the survey and finished it. DBEDT said 2,809 surveys were completed from individuals in Honolulu County, 1,244 from Hawai’i County, 936 from Maui County and 462 from Kaua’i County.

Those that took the survey started working remotely either at the start of the pandemic or the start of the survey in August of 2021.

The report revealed there were common benefits among those surveyed, which include “not having to commute, work schedule flexibility and freedom to live anywhere.” However, there were also disadvantages of working remotely which include “missing out on social and networking aspects of in-office work and being at a disadvantage for promotions.”

Another issue of working remotely is having a bad internet connection. Over 65.3% of remote workers suggest improving it by creating remote work hubs and co-working locations.

Although there are issues with working remotely, 43.5% of remote workers expect their employer to offer some form of remote work to staff even after the end of the pandemic, and the feeling is mutual among employers that took the survey, according to DBEDT.

DBEDT said the pandemic has only accelerated the global race toward the digital economy by fostering the simultaneous adoption of digital technologies by businesses, employees and consumers alike.

Employers, 66.0%, surveyed, believed offering remote work increased productivity, and reduced operational costs. Meanwhile, 36.3% of employers believe it acts as an incentive to recruit and retain employees. However, 21.5% of employers felt they would have greater access to an off-island talent pool, according to the report.

Overall, employers and employees in Hawaii liked the benefits that remote work offered, but there were a few concerns.

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For instance, 63.1% of employers surveyed believed there were difficulties in collaboration and teamwork; 59.5% of employers believed there was difficulty in monitoring and supervising work; and technical challenges which include painting security and compliance for remote workers.

DBEDT said 53.5% of employers had difficulty in maintaining company culture.