The 2020 Intelligent Workplace Report ‘Shaping Employee Experiences for a World Transformed’,* highlights that the pandemic has put employee wellbeing at the forefront of the business agenda. Almost four-fifths (77.6%) of UK&I-based organisations agree that home-working during the pandemic has been challenging for employees. Connectivity and workspace issues such as bandwidth, a feeling of isolation and a lack of dedicated workspace have all contributed to their concerns. Organisations have to look at every aspect of workplace strategy to optimise employee experience, these include; culture, technology and location.
The report which surveyed 1,350 participants across 19 markets (125 particpants in UK&I) found that 86.4% of the UK&I respondents believe employee needs will be at the heart of the future workplace design. Our findings show that almost three-quarters (68.0%) of UK&I organisations agree employees would prefer to have the choice and flexibility to work in an office when it is safe to do so, and 88.0% agreed that face-to-face meeting time is essential to build a sense of teamwork and/or when meeting clients.
As the world continues to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, organisations must develop a more robust strategy to permanently provide for their distributed workforce. While 88.8% of UK&I organisations recognise the value of employee experience as a crucial strategic differentiator, just 26.4% are very satisfied with their current capability.
For now, less than a third of UK&I businesses (30.4%) have changed their IT policy to help employees work within a new operating model and well under half (35.2%) have deployed new communication and productivity tools. In many cases employees have been left to use their personal devices and applications which has rapidly increased the risk of security vulnerabilities. In fact, only 42.4% have increased their IT security capabilities to keep their organisation and employees secure.
Marilyn Chaplin, Chief Human Resources Officer, NTT Ltd. comments, “The connected employee – their wellness and employee experience – must be at the heart of the future workplace strategy. Helping people stay connected and keeping their data secure is key to looking after the workforce and maintaining productivity and effectiveness. Yet this must be underpinned by a long-term strategy for digital transformation, with the roll out of new technologies, policies and of course training so employees feel comfortable with new platforms.”
Establishing the new workplace strategies today for the office of tomorrow
According to the report findings, almost half (45.6%) of businesses are already reviewing the general office design and how best to align with employees’ new needs.
Respondents are somewhat polarised on what to do with office space in general, with over a third (34.4%) of global C-suite execs saying they are looking to reduce office space, yet almost a quarter (24.0%) plan to increase it. That said, most agree that the physical space will have a more defined, flexible use to provide for a more collaborative environment enabling:
- Connecting the distributed workforce: just under half (40.0%) will install video conferencing/video collaboration spaces to bring remote and office employees together
- Facilitate creativity and collaboration: almost a quarter (2%) will implement creative/thinking spaces
- Drive activity-based work initiatives: almost a third (32.0%) will reduce individual office desk space with 34.4% increasing meeting spaces
Intelligent solutions will empower the employee
We now have access to a vast range of digital platforms and applications, but the rapid adoption of these new technologies has not always been supported with adequate training. To motivate employees to use new technology, it’s important to clearly articulate the benefit to them as individuals, especially if they are working remotely.
Just 41.6% of businesses, across the globe, have access to workplace analytics to help them understand and assess new pain points introduced by remote working. By reviewing which applications and features people are using through workplace analytics, businesses can learn how to prioritise, tailor and measure the impact of training to positively impact on adoption, usage and productivity – all of which contributes to the employee experience.
Businesses must set the foundation for the future employee experience now
Having adapted to the pandemic in recent months, over half (55.3%) of the global C-suite strongly agree that now is the time to create the workplace of the future.
Alex Bennett, Vice President of Intelligent Workplace at NTT Ltd. agrees with the need for businesses to act now, stating: “How businesses combat the challenges posed by COVID-19 and re-shape their workplace strategy, will lay the foundation for an entire generation’s future of working. Businesses must react with agility and purpose. We’re seeing companies driving change in real-time compared to months if not years previously. Those who were already ahead of the game in employee experience – making brave, data-driven, human-led decisions are now in a much stronger position in creating a supportive culture. Empowering people and helping them find greater fulfilment in their work is delivering value to these organisations.”
Survey from NTT Ltd.