The pandemic has changed many attitudes about the modern office, with more and more employees opting for at least some remote work options.
Countless studies on remote work and how work habits have changed tell us a common story: employees want the flexibility to essentially work wherever they want. In large part, workers don’t want the flexibility afforded to them during the pandemic go to waste.
With the proliferation of videoconferencing services helping to fill collaboration gaps, the idea of all employees traveling to one location to do the work they’ve been doing remotely for the better part of two years doesn’t make much sense anymore.
However, those feelings are at odds with employers, the majority of whom want employees back in the office, according to new research from global IT services provider NTT.
The company’s Global Workplace Report for 2021 finds that 79% of organizations believe employees would prefer to work in an office. But when those employees were asked, just 39% said they agree.
According to NTT’s report, another 30% each prefer either home or hybrid working, making it 60% of employees who prefer at least some remote work flexibility.
When it comes to technology that is part of an organization’s workplace strategy, cloud computing and cybersecurity tools were the top two at 60.6% and 60.2%, respectively. Rounding out the top 10 were:
- Mobile and remote working tools and networks (49.2%)
- Collaboration tools (46.6%)
- Workplace and productivity applications and platforms (42.5%)
- Analytics (42.5%)
- Digital events (39%)
- Wireless/in-building cellular networks (38.6%)
- Access and identity hardware/software (37.8%)
- AI/machine learning/bots (33.6%)
To improve productivity, organizations reported deploying these technologies:
- Employee self-service (IT issues, leave requests, company policies) (45.8%)
- Quality management (44.9%)
- E-learning system (42.6%)
- Performance management (42.1%)
- Knowledge management (39.1%)
- Project management tools (38.4%)
- Workplace analytics (37.5%)
- Workforce management/planning software (37%)
- Workflow management software (32.2%)
- AI-driven support, like virtual agents (32.2%)
- Voice and/or data recording (22.9%)
Elsewhere in the report, the divide between employee and employer is evident. All largely agree that remote work has introduced difficulties and employee wellness has suffered over the course of the pandemic, but executives and employees don’t agree on the extent.
According to the report, CEOs are 20 percentage points more likely to believe that their organization is very effective at managing work hours, 28 points more likely to believe they are effective at preventing burnout, and 41 points more likely to be very satisfied with their organization’s employee experience capabilities.
Now, just 38% of employees think their employer fully values their health and wellbeing, and less than a quarter say they are happy to be working for their organization.
In a statement, Alex Bennett, global senior vice president of GTM Solutions at NTT, said the findings suggest that work-life balance and commute times are now the two biggest factors for job seekers.
“Currently, the narrative is all about remote working – but the reality of employees’ needs is much more complicated, and any failure to accurately assess and respond to that fact presents a serious risk to organizations”, Bennett said.