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Future of Work

Some interesting research in this week’s newsletter reveals hybrid work is here to stay with close on one in five employees surveyed saying they would choose not to go back to the office when restrictions lift.

The report contends 2020 was a watershed year for digital workplace transformation with the urgent shift to remote working has seen the world experience two years of digital transformation in two months. The research examined the impact of this transformation on the UK workforce, finding that employees are happier, but under more pressure working from home – despite the vast majority of employees reporting their businesses have adapted to hybrid working.

The research, Work Smarter to Live Better, saw over 4,000 office workers surveyed online via a YouGov survey, in addition to in-depth interviews with senior business leaders from across the UK. The findings were analysed via Microsoft Surface in partnership with the CIPD​. It reveals the mass adoption of hybrid working has required UK organisations to examine everything from employee benefits, to training, to roles and responsibilities and to the technology they have to operate successfully. ​

Although firms across the UK are currently taking a digital-first approach, few plan to have a 100% remote workforce for the long term. The likeliest scenario is that most organisations will adopt a hybrid working model, wherein the workforce is split between working remotely and working in the office. ​The findings mean organisations and employees will have to adapt to support hybrid working long-term.

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy, CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development says “The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the biggest homeworking experiment we have ever seen in the UK. However, this is not home-working in normal times – much of this experience has been enforced home working and many people have been dealing with a range of additional pressures and anxieties. It is therefore crucial that line managers ensure people are not over-working and provide flexibility and support to anyone struggling with any aspect of working from home. Senior leaders need to role model the behaviours they expect of others and businesses focus more on equipping managers with the people management skills they need to manage and support home and remote workers. Employers also need to do more to provide more flexible working opportunities to people whose jobs mean they can’t work from home through greater use of practices such as flexi-time, job sharing and compressed and annualised hours.”

Howard Lewis, Surface Business Group Lead, Microsoft UK says “Flexible working has taken on a whole new meaning, with remote work suddenly feeling ‘the norm’. Employees have been empowered to think about where and how they are most productive, whilst employers have been tasked with ensuring the devices they provide to their organisations are fit for today’s purpose. The ability to successfully support remote operations and distributed teams is now indispensable for business resilience and innovation, with technology playing a vital part.”

Fascinating stuff and perfectly timed for our upcoming virtual Digital Workplace Conference next month delivered live from our own Engage TV studio. Look forward to welcoming you there.

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