LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–UK businesses are not investing in new collaborative office environments that could encourage staff to return to work after the pandemic, a new Microsoft Surface report warns.
More than four in five (83%) British workers surveyed by YouGov on behalf of Microsoft Surface still find themselves in the same office environment as before the pandemic. Meanwhile, only about a third (35%) of IT decision makers (ITDMs) surveyed for the same report were asked to consider whether their office IT is right for their workforce today. What is clear is that the whole way we work has changed irrevocably, but our workplaces have not kept pace.
The majority of respondents believe that office work is better suited to both socializing with colleagues (57%) and building relationships with colleagues (65%) than remote work.
However, the new research indicates that staff are stuck in non-collaborative work patterns when they venture into the office – the majority (71%) say they “send emails” every time they enter. Additionally, less than a third (31%) of office workers say their organization has invested in technology to improve collaboration in the past year – with just 6% of ITDMs recognizing room technology. meeting as a priority investment.
Perhaps that’s why half (50%) of employees surveyed only come to the office when told they have to. This is worrying, as Microsoft’s Work Trend Index report recently revealed that getting employees back to the in-person office is a concern for 80% of UK business leaders in the coming year.
Alan Slothower, Surface Business group leader at Microsoft UK, said: “Too many UK workers are stuck in the same office spaces as before the pandemic, with their organizations having invested little in building a sociable and collaborative. Clearly employees need more incentive to return to their offices than a mandate from the employer. The question for leaders is clear: are our offices fit for today’s workforce and will they really be want to come back?”
The office reinvented
The Microsoft Surface report, The office re-imagined: not a re-design but a redefinition, draws on the views of thousands of UK employees and over 500 ITDMs to highlight the importance for organizations to reinvent their offices for the hybrid road ahead. The report shares insights across three dimensions – collaboration, productivity and employee engagement – and raises questions for UK business leaders, change managers and ITDMs to consider.
In the report, UK employees share their top three frustrations with office work: feeling like they’re accomplishing less than when working remotely (as cited by 36% of respondents); the cost and duration of home-work journeys (32%); and reduced time spent with loved ones (25%).
Interestingly, when asked to imagine a new office workplace, these are the “basics” they aspire to. A strong Wi-Fi connection was the most frequently cited request (49%), followed by good air conditioning with temperature control (47%), flexible working hours (46%) and good transport links (43%).
But wherever they work, four in five employees (81%) consider their work device – usually a laptop – as their “home office” to stay productive wherever they are. Indeed, devices remain a priority investment for ITDMs in recognition of the crucial role they play for the modern, hybrid worker, according to the research.
Alan Slothower commented: “When the world shifted to remote working a few years ago, organizations simply focused on maintaining the workforce by providing people with devices and tools to work from home. Now, as organizations and employees experiment with different types of hybrid models, and workers return to the office once again, business leaders must balance the need for continuous productivity with employee expectations of work. office – and make sure it’s fit for purpose. Our research clearly indicates that companies not only need to redesign their offices, but also re-imagine them for a hybrid future.”
To learn more about the results, please find the full report here.
The Microsoft Surface report outlines three key steps business leaders and change makers need to take to make the reimagined desktop a reality:
- Placing employee needs at the heart of business strategy – with a change management strategy that takes into account the needs of employees and the reasons for using the office. This will not only ensure that the devices meet their needs, but will also improve the employee experience.
- Accepting and addressing the hybrid paradox – if employers want to encourage more in-person presence, it starts with understanding that people value flexibility and human connection and letting go of a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Think of devices as a productivity powerhouse, not just as a technical necessity – the devices employees use have a significant impact on their morale and lead to better productivity and better business results. The right devices can also improve accessibility and create more inclusive experiences for people with disabilities and those working remotely.