Vice President, Imaging & Future Of Workspace Practice Lead, IDC
Vaccination has made a return to the office possible, but things need to be different to get the full benefits of hybrid working.
The vaccination program and lockdown easing make a gradual return of knowledge workers to the office increasingly feasible. However, a study of previous pandemics suggests that things are not going to be the same as before.
IDC predicts that the average percentage of knowledge workers in the office will reach roughly 35% this year in Europe. This is still extremely low compared to 2019 levels (72%) but showing progress against last year’s historic lows (28%). Office occupancy is expected to continue to grow steadily with more than 55% of knowledge workers going to the office by 2023.
Reasons to go back
Many companies have just been through an enforced experiment in home working. Our data show employers are experiencing increased productivity from newly home-based workers with a much-increased acceptance of this way of working. So, should we even consider returning to the office?
Collaboration and digital workspace tools can help with improving digital equivalency allowing home workers to work more effectively with their colleagues in the office.
Recent experience has clearly shown that while some types of work are well suited to home working more interaction-based activities benefit from face-to-face contact. The office is the place for collaborating, innovating, training, persuading, selling and onboarding. Interestingly some studies also suggest it is the place to get promoted with home-based workers often missing out.
How to return
The research shows that the future of work is a hybrid one, with most workers spending at least one day working at home and at least one day in the office per week. Careful planning is required to ensure that employees have the opportunity and capability to work most productively wherever they are.
Fortunately, many tools and technologies are available to monitor, manage and optimise the office space. Also, collaboration and digital workspace tools can help with improving digital equivalency allowing home workers to work more effectively with their colleagues in the office.
One of the key benefits of hybrid working is that it can account for differing personal circumstances and job roles. There is no one-size-fit-all approach to resume onsite operations. Employee experience, like customer experience, increasingly benefits from hyper-personalisation.
A hybrid model tailored to individual employees’ circumstances, roles and needs provides a great opportunity to enhance employee experience (and ultimately increase productivity).
Whether used only one day or the entire week, IDC predicts that the office will continue to play a major role in organisations’ success going forward in building corporate identity and as a catalyst for collaboration and innovation.