The expectations of employees have changed over the pandemic. Job listings with “remote” in the title have boomed and it is evident that staff are working differently.
To get a better understanding of shifting attitudes, market researcher CCS Insight spoke to 611 employees in the US and Western Europe about their attitudes towards technology and work, as part of their annual Employee Workplace Technology Survey.
The findings give insight into the expectations of employees and the key areas employers should be investing in.
Employees prefer hybrid work
The survey found that 60% of information workers wanted to see a hybrid working model. This shouldn’t be too surprising as only 10% of those in roles that support home working choose to return to the office full time.
However, many organizations have had reservations about letting workers do their work from home. In fact, research by Opinion Matters for Ricoh Europe found that 65% of employers did not trust staff to work from home, and 39% felt that employees were more productive in their usual places of work.
Despite these findings, David Mills, CEO of Ricoh Europe, stated: “It stands to reason that less commuting, a greater sense of flexibility, and having the trust of your manager are significant contributing factors to a more empowered and inspired workforce.
“This puts the onus on leaders to make their hybrid work model as successful as possible.”
With this in mind, it is time for organizations to get over their preconceptions and embrace hybrid work. To do this, employers can take a number of steps, including selecting one day a week when all staff meet to gain the benefits of face-to-face interaction.
Equally investing in synchronous platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack has been a popular investment. This allows teams to quickly communicate from anywhere, and keep on task.
Changing how the workplace communicates
The study by CCS Insight found that the way we communicate has also changed over the course of the pandemic. So much so, that the adoption of Microsoft Teams and Zoom has jumped more than 50% in the past year.
The knock-on impact of this digital growth is a decline in mobile and desk phone communication. Employees now expect their communications to come through a digital medium.
However, employers should be cautious about just how many calls they stack up in calendars. ‘Zoom Fatigue‘ has become a theme in many workplaces that attempted to replace walk to meetings with additional calls.
On the note of no meeting days, Oldham comments: “I think it’s a really good way to get folks to connect with the work and not necessarily with each other. Sure I make a call or two that day because I have to clarify something or I need a quick piece of advice.
“But it is a good day for that centering around, you know, the work that you’re pulling out of each one of these meetings, and how do I get it done? What is the result of the meeting and can I do my work without it?”
Technology and staff retention
Utilizing technology is essential in an age when burnout has led to millions leaving the workforce. With the ‘Great Resignation‘ in full swing, there is no doubt that there are issues with retention in many sectors across the world.
The findings of CCS Insight noted that young employees are the most likely to leave their employer. To combat this a positive employee experience is essential.
However, the survey also found that colleague relationships (34%) and a healthy work-life balance (31%), are breeding anxiety among employees in the shift to hybrid work.
Discussing the findings, Angela Ashenden, principal analyst of workplace transformation at CCS Insight, noted: “The past two years have seen tremendous change in the way we work, and employees have adapted to those changes remarkably well.
“But with the shift to hybrid work, the next two years could make those changes look like a drop in the ocean — particularly when it comes to the impact on companies’ technology strategies.
“Employees are certain that hybrid work is the way forward, but are worried about what effect it’ll have on the employee experience.”
Ashenden advises: “As offices start reopening and businesses take a more strategic approach to their transformation in the context of hybrid working, there’s a risk that employee experience bears the brunt.
“Given the weaker ties that many staff feel to their employer after the pandemic, business leaders should be concerned.
“It’s also a big opportunity for suppliers of cloud services and other IT providers to add real value by helping companies navigate the turbulence of a new era of hybrid work”.
Undoubtedly technology can help bridge the gap as we adjust to new balances of work by enabling digital communication and friendships to form, but it is clear that face-to-face anxieties also need to be addressed as teams come back to the office.
This is the knife-edge that employee experience rests on. To combat this, communication about changes and an understanding of the thoughts of staff is essential.