82 per cent of employees to return to office in 12-18 months: Survey

Mumbai | Updated on June 25, 2020

A new global business survey commissioned by Xerox Holdings Corporation shows an estimated 82 per cent of the workforce in respondents’ organisations will have returned to the workplace in 12-18 months’ time, on average.

In preparation for a return, companies are investing in new resources to support a hybrid remote/ in-office workforce, with 56 per cent increasing technology budgets, and 34 per cent planning to speed their digital transformation as a result of Covid-19.

The Xerox Future of Work Survey, conducted by the independent research firm Vanson Bourne, polled 600 IT decision-makers, including senior C-level professionals, whose organisations have at least 500 employees.

Respondents reported challenges caused by the sudden transition to remote work, with 72 per cent citing that they were not fully prepared from a technology perspective. In addition to technology (29 per cent), the biggest pain points during the work from the home period were communication breakdown across teams/ employees (26 per cent) and maintaining focus (25 per cent).

Steve Bandrowczak, Xerox president and chief operations officer, said in an official statement: “While there is no doubt the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, our research found that over time many companies plan to have most employees back in an office environment. This could be for a variety of reasons, including communication, speed of decision-making and talent development.”

“At the same time, the sudden shut-down and ongoing hybrid work environment has exposed technology gaps that require new or additional investment in the coming months,” he added.

Prior to work from home requirements being imposed, 33 per cent of respondents said network/ data security and privacy was their biggest concern with a remote workforce. 24 per cent cited employee productivity, followed by 16 per cent citing technology infrastructure.

These concerns, coupled with the belief held by 95 per cent of respondents that in-person communication is important for personal development and assessing talent, indicate widespread remote work will not replace more traditional workspaces.

However, now that businesses are more comfortable with remote work, attitudes, and policies of C-suite leaders and IT decision-makers are shifting. Furthermore, 58 per cent plan to change their work from home policy within the next year, highlighting the need for companies to support a hybrid workforce.

The rapid transition to remote work was difficult for most businesses, with only 28 per cent saying they were fully prepared and 29 per cent citing technology as their biggest pain point.

With regard to technology specifically, respondents said their top challenges were remote IT support (35 per cent), inadequate workflow solutions (27 per cent), lack of communications and collaboration tools (22 per cent), and lack of cloud-based solutions (10 per cent). Eighty-five per cent of business leaders also missed the accessibility and ease of use of their office printers.

Further, as a result of technology gaps uncovered by having a mostly remote workforce, 70 per cent of IT firms globally are re-evaluating their budget spend, with companies increasing investment in remote technology resources (55 per cent) or a hybrid of remote and in-office resources (40 per cent).

The pandemic also has businesses prioritising investments in cloud-based software (65 per cent), remote IT (63 per cent) support, and collaboration software (52 per cent). Hardware such as laptops and printers was another important consideration.

The survey of 600 respondents located across the world was conducted by independent research firm Vanson Bourne in May last month. Respondents included IT decision-makers (including senior C-level professionals), all from organisations with at least 500 employees across a range of sectors, including business and professional services, retail, healthcare, financial services, and travel and hospitality.

Published on June 25, 2020

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