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This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

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Automation Salary Survey Shows Road to Recovery for the Workplace

2020 brought a pandemic, multiple lockdowns in many communities, remote learning, job losses, job changes, increasingly prevalent remote work, vast changes in everyday life and changes in salary.  COVID-19 is still affecting the workplace, but the 2020-2021 Automation Salary Survey results show signs of recovery.

While most of these survey results focus on variations in salary, we also surveyed participants about other effects of the pandemic on the workplace, like changes in job functions, opportunities for remote work, and laid off or furloughed employees. One respondent noted that COVID-19 “has disrupted workstreams and teamwork, slowing things down and making progress less efficient.” Another wrote that “the supply chain issue is the major obstacle from COVID-19. Getting parts to complete projects is becoming nearly impossible.”

COVID-19 and remote work

One of the major topics of concern was the nature and frequency of remote work. Of the 983 participants who chose to answer the question, 77.7% indicated they have the capacity to do their job remotely, while 22.3% said they can’t do their job remotely. In the qualitative portion of the survey, respondents made several comments about their status of remote work during 2021.

One wrote: “I no longer use my primary work location cubicle but instead work from home on a daily basis. I used to travel for all my projects, but now I perform most C&SU activities from home and only travel in rare cases.” Another noted, “I work almost entirely from home. I have become very burned out.” A third participate wrote, “I work at home on a rotation: three weeks at home, one week at the office.”

The table below shows how much time respondents spent working at home in 2021: 

How much of your job do you actually perform at home?

Percentage of Work

Percentage of Respondents

I do 100% of my work at home.


I do 75% of my work at home. 


I do 50% of my work at home.


I do less than 50% of my work at home.


None. I can work at home but prefer the office.


None. My job cannot be done remotely.


Besides remote work, the pandemic continued to affect automation professionals in the workplace in other ways. Many of the comments about the effects of COVID-19 in the workplace in 2021 pertained to staffing concerns and changes in job function. Here are a few sample comments about those topics:

  • “Company cutting manpower, pay freeze.”
  • “Just more online meetings and phone meetings.”
  • “Increased workload due to need for automation.”
  • “Not traveling as much. Can’t be in front of customers.”
  • “Layoffs throughout the company as a result of COVID.”
  • “Increased workload due to layoffs.”
  • “Loss of employees. Shortages of materials. Increased material cost.”
  • “Increased workload.”

Other effects of the pandemic on the workplace

The following table shows the percentage of respondents who experienced or saw others in their company experience various effects of the pandemic in the workplace in 2021:

Pandemic effects in 2021 in the workplace

Percentage of respondents who saw it happen in their company

Laid off employees


Furloughed employees


Closed down


Laid off/furloughed employees returned to work


Company reopened


Unable to find enough qualified staff


Job functions have changed


This 2020-2021 Automation Salary Survey report explicates data collected in mid-2021 about the salaries and work lives of automation professionals across the globe in various industries and stages of their careers. The survey was conducted online in October 2021 by, a subsidiary of ISA – The International Society of Automation. Respondents self-reported data about their salary in 2020, how it had changed in 2021 and other facts about their work as automation professionals. A total of 1,064 professionals provided data.

Download the study results here.

Melissa Landon
Melissa Landon
Melissa Landon is a Content Editor for

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