Employees less worried about hybrid working than leaders

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Almost four in 10 business leaders are worried about lack of management oversight as organisations move to hybrid working, compared with just 7% of employees.

These are the findings of a survey by analyst company IDC in conjunction with IT services company Unisys, which has revealed a lack of alignment between managers and employees in terms of priorities for future working practices.

It asked more than 1,100 employees and leaders in 15 countries about the challenges and opportunities they perceived to lie ahead in hybrid working environments.

It also found that two-thirds of employees felt a work location and schedule conducive to family life was important, but only 49% of business leaders felt this way. Only 31% of business leaders thought empowering employees was crucial, compared to 51% of employees themselves.

Employees are less concerned about how they are empowered, however, with 43% reporting they require the most up-to-date technology to be productive, versus 55% of business leaders.

Concerns about the challenges of remote working differed significantly, too. Around four in 10 business leaders worry about difficulties communicating with other team members, compared to just 24% of employees.

Employees are also more comfortable about using technology at home, with only one in 10 fearful of using new or unfamiliar systems compared with 41% of leaders. Similarly, just 11% of employees worry about access to data, versus 38% of business leaders.

Despite this, two-thirds of business leaders in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region said they felt remote work was just as productive or more so than working from a company location. In response, 42% of businesses will invest in technologies to support this. Companies list 5G, ‘internet of things’, artificial intelligence and modern security platforms as providing benefits to evolving work environments in the next five years.

“One of the outcomes of 2020 has been the rapid technology, process and policy adjustments that most organisations have made to support hybrid ways of working,” said Holly Muscolino, research vice president, content strategies and the future of work at IDC.

“Across the globe, almost 40% of the workforce was forced to shift to remote ways of working almost overnight, while the remaining 60% continued to adapt and find new, safer ways to do their jobs. Now we know that, for most, there will be no return to the business models of 2019.”

She added: “Remote employees will continue to comprise almost one-quarter of the global workforce, albeit with some variability across industries. The hybrid workforce – remote, on-site, in the field and transitioning between locations – is here to stay, and the temporary changes organisations put into place throughout 2020 must become permanent going forward.”

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