Over the last year, we have changed our perception of a “workplace” drastically. The idea of flexible working or a hybrid workplace was almost unimaginable before Covid-19, but now it appears to be the only way forward. As such, digital workplace leaders must determine new guidelines for how employees can effectively work in a hybrid world.
While working throughout the pandemic, employees were granted an unprecedented degree of flexibility, with the autonomy to choose where, when and how to work. Findings from the Gartner 2021 Digital worker experience survey revealed that over 10,000 digital workers from the US, Europe and APAC are now likely to feel that flexibility is key to their productivity.
It is therefore up to leaders in digital workplaces to find the optimal balance between structure and flexibility to establish a viable hybrid workplace for the future while ensuring that its staff, who are increasingly more reliant on digital tools and software programmes, can access these when working remotely.
One of the main lessons we learned from remote work throughout the pandemic is that workers have demonstrated that working in traditionally “employer-controlled” work environments is neither essential for employee productivity nor required for engagement. In fact, most employees recognise that there isn’t much value in returning to the old way of working and are demanding a hybrid working environment instead.
Flexible work hours are a key driver of productivity
The survey also proved that the nine-to-five working day is a vestige of a bygone era, a relic of a pre-pandemic time as workers around the world benefited from a productivity increase when in charge of their own working hours. According to Gartner, 43% of respondents believed that flexible working hours helped them achieve greater productivity, and 30% of respondents said shorter or non-existent commutes allowed them to be more productive.
Nevertheless, 26% of respondents said that over the course of the year, their productivity levels had dropped. These respondents mainly cited technology changes and connectivity issues as the top culprits for diminished productivity. Notably, these are all concerns that can be easily addressed and amended.
Workers seek flexible work locations and hours
Following 2020’s increase in workplace flexibility, both in terms of time and location, workers are now requesting to implement and extend those advantages from 2021 onwards. Some 64% of surveyed employees said they were likely to consider a position with flexible hours than one with set hours. Also, 59% of respondents said they identified more with the declaration “I would only consider a new position or job that allows me to work from a location of my choice” than with a statement saying that location would not matter.
Overall, the Gartner study predicted that by the end of 2021, 32% of employees worldwide will be remote workers – totalling 628 million remote employees. Having now shifted the perception of flexible working from being a privilege to a necessity, employers are searching for the optimal balance to provide employees with said work flexibility, as well as the appropriate tools and timeframes needed to accommodate it.
With this in mind, company leaders should ensure their workers are provided with a high-quality network service, efficient resources, hardware and cloud services in order to optimise their workflows and boost productivity.