Business leaders lose touch with remote working employees

EMEA business leaders are out of touch with what employees want in the hybrid workplace experience, and 66 percent of organisations plan to adopt a different operating model than they had before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey from Unisys Corporation.

A majority (61 percent) of these organisations say these new models are designed to ensure employee safety and to achieve more productivity (47 percent). Almost two thirds (64 percent) say the key driver for them is to create a better overall employee experience. The findings are included in a new IDC white paper, sponsored by Unisys, titled “Digital Workplace Insights: Seeking Digital and Experience Parity to Support the Hybrid Workforce.”


Key findings

• While work location and schedule that is conducive to family life is important for 66 percent of employees in EMEA, only 49 percent of business leaders see this as important.
• 51 percent of employees said that empowering teams and individuals is crucial, but here the discrepancy was even higher with only 31 percent of businesses acknowledging this. This gap is significantly lower in North America (63 percent of employees and 51 percent of businesses).
• On the other hand, 55 percent of business leaders say that access to the most up-to-date technology for the task at hand is key to an ideal employee experience. This is only important to 43 percent of employees.


Concerns about remote working differ

Similarly, business leaders show much more concern around the practicalities of remote working than employees. For 38 percent of business leaders, difficulties communicating and working with other team members is a concern. Only 24 percent of employees agree.

38 percent are concerned about the lack of management oversight and visibility as a result of home working, compared to only 7 percent of employees. While 38 percent are worried about potential difficulties accessing data, only 11 percent of employees believe this is a challenge. Using unfamiliar or new work-from-home technologies is seen as a challenge by 41 percent of business leaders, but only by 10 percent of employees.

Overall, employees are far more positive about the new remote working model, with 33 percent not seeing any or just a few noticeable challenges that come with remote working.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”The temporary changes organisations put into place throughout 2020 must become permanent going forward”[/perfectpullquote]

“One of the outcomes of 2020 has been the rapid technology, process and policy adjustments that most organisations have made to support hybrid ways of working,” said Holly Muscolino, research vice president, content strategies and the future of work at IDC.

“Across the globe, almost 40 percent of the workforce was forced to shift to remote ways of working almost overnight, while the remaining 60 percent continued to adapt and find new, safer ways to do their jobs. Now we know that, for most, there will be no return to the business models of 2019. Remote employees will continue to comprise almost one-quarter of the global workforce, albeit with some variability across industries. The hybrid workforce – remote, on-site, in the field and transitioning between locations – is here to stay, and the temporary changes organisations put into place throughout 2020 must become permanent going forward,” said Muscolino.


Productivity remains high

Despite their concerns, two thirds (66 percent) of business leaders in EMEA say that remote work is just as productive — or even more productive — than working from a company location. To capitalise on this, 42 percent of businesses plan to make targeted investments to generate growth and are prioritising innovation to thrive in a post-COVID era.

“The real challenge for IT is providing experience parity for all employees, working in various and hybrid locations”, says Kevin Turner, EMEA Digital Workplace Strategy Lead, Unisys. “This means enabling all workers to find individual ways of working that drive productivity and innovation anytime, anywhere and on any device. AI, automation, analytics and proactive problem resolution are part of a broader set of technologies and processes required to provide this. This survey shows how varied the perceptions are on a modern, Digital Workplace. It also shows that many businesses think ahead by creating a workplace which will not only be more productive, but also be better for their employees.”

Image by Gerd Altmann