Working away from traditional offices will become the new norm

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The pandemic is changing tech priorities for companies, according to a new report from independent research firm Omdia. Enterprises rated cybersecurity and hybrid work as the top initiatives at their organizations, with customer experience, business processes, and better empowering frontline workers following close behind.

Omdia’s Future of Work survey, which compiled over 300 responses from executives at large companies, implies that working away from traditional offices will become the new norm. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that they’ll either be primarily home-based or adopt a hybrid work style, while 68% of enterprises believe that employee productivity has improved since the move to remote work.

The report agrees with the conclusions of a recent Stanford study, which found that working from home increased productivity among a group of 16,000 workers by 13% over the course of nine months. Attrition rates were cut by 50%, as well, with employees citing a quieter, more convenient working environment as a major advantage.

“The world of work has undergone significant change due to the disruptions brought about by the pandemic,” Omdia principal analyst Adam Holtby said in a press release. “Our research shows that people, process, place, and technology transformation are the foundation upon which successful digital workplace ecosystems are created.”

Challenges

Not all employers believe that remote staff are more productive than in-office workers, however. In an Upwork survey, 22.5% of managers said that productivity had decreased at their company since staffers started working from home in 2020. And in a meta-analysis by researchers at Chicago Booth and the University of Essex, productivity at a large Asian IT-services company decreased by 20% after the workforce began working from home.

Beyond impacting productivity, remote and hybrid work shifts can introduce new, sometimes unforeseen security problems. In a report from HP Wolf Security, 83% of IT teams said that the increase in home workers has created a “ticking time bomb” for a corporate network breach. Eighty-three percent, moreover, believe that enforcing corporate policies around cybersecurity is impossible now that the lines between personal and professional lives are so blurred.

Regardless of where they’re working, the success of employees depends on organizations’ willingness to make investments focusing on optimizing the value from processes and technologies — as well as reinventing their business models,. When it comes to the digital workplace, businesses need to work with partners to help select the most appropriate IT architecture and technologies, understand the impact of digitalization on their industry, and help align business and digital strategies, according to Omdia.

By the same token, 39% of executives in a report said that their companies will get the most value from digital transformation initiatives — for example, embracing ecommerce — in the next three to five years. In an encouraging piece of news, 87% of companies think digital will disrupt their industry in a positive way and 44% feel that they’re prepared for a potential disruption, a recent Deloitte survey found.

“An ‘anywhere workforce’ is reliant on a diverse set of capabilities and this new normal is presenting new challenges,” Holtby added. “Businesses must now reinvent themselves to create productive, safe and empowering environments for their employees. It’s time to focus less on work location and more on employee experience.”

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