Indian professionals are keen on having the ability to choose whether to work from home or office while managing work hours, as offices open up, according to Cisco's Workforce of the Future survey.

According to the report, 90 per cent of office workers in India would prefer a hybrid work model in 2021. Employees want greater ownership in defining how and when they use office space, with a combination of office-based and remote work.

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Lessons from lockdown

According to professionals in India, the two primary benefits of working from home are increased autonomy (72 per cent) and working well as a dispersed team (70 per cent). This would shape the way employees work moving forward. Additionally, 73 per cent of office workers want to keep hold of faster decision-making.

“In India, even though only 21 per cent of those surveyed had worked from home most of the time before the lockdown, now an overwhelming majority hope to keep this increased autonomy,” the report said.

In the last six months, 74 per cent of employees have been able to appreciate better the benefits and challenges of working from home, the report said.

This has also led to various positive changes, as leaders have shown increased trust in their teams to do their jobs well (58 per cent). For 73 per cent of workers, the lockdown has been proof that employees don't need to be in the same room to collaborate effectively.

Managing Director for Software, Cloud, and Collaboration Sales, Cisco, Hariharan S said, "It is clear that working from home has its benefits, as does going to office. Employers that want their staff to be productive and enable them to collaborate effectively, however, must adopt the right tools – especially if they want to successfully transition to the hybrid work ecosystem demanded by today's workforce."

The way forward

On the way forward, employees are keen on companies that have focused their budgets on remote working technologies, collaboration tools, cybersecurity and skilling initiatives.

When asked about being given the chance to be CEO for a day, 83 per cent of employees said they would prioritise, ensuring effective communication and collaboration the most.

For this, the vast majority of 82 per cent of employees said businesses should provide similar working technology at home as is given in the office.

Further, 84 per cent of employees are keen on upskilling since more training on technology and digital skills are fundamental to business success in 2021.

“Employees believe that the 2021 budget priorities for their business should be investing in the technologies needed for remote work, bringing in technology to make the office a safer space from a health perspective, and improving cybersecurity,” the report said.

The Cisco-commissioned survey received responses from more than 14,000 respondents across 14 markets in the Asia-Pacific, including over 1,000 respondents from India.