Employees want greater ownership and choice in the new world of work

Remote working during the pandemic has challenged society’s cultural norms around the workplace

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Working from home may have been an adjustment at the start of the pandemic lockdown, but according to Cisco’s Workforce of the Future survey, employees want to keep hold of many positives that emerged in our new way of working. Increased autonomy (63%) and working well as a dispersed team (66%) are two main benefits; plus 61% want to keep hold of faster decision-making.

Workforce of the Future, a Cisco commissioned survey of 10,000 respondents across 12 markets in Europe, the Middle East and Russia, asked office-based employees for their expectations of employers from 2021 onwards. Results show that employees see this as a watershed moment, challenging culture norms around the workplace.

Even though only 5% of those surveyed worked from home most of the time before the lockdown, now an overwhelming majority hope to keep this increased autonomy. One size will not fit all, as 87% want greater ownership in defining how and when they use office space – blending between being office-based and working remotely.

Reflecting on the last six months, two thirds (66%) now have a greater appreciation of the benefits and challenges of working from home. Positive changes were afoot, as leaders showed increased trust in their teams to do their jobs well (39%). Employees were able to better balance life around work, with 56% incorporating more exercise into their daily routine. In a similar spirit, 58% want to continue travelling less and use that time more productively.

Commenting on the results, Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East & Africa said: “COVID-19 has caused businesses the world over to accelerate their digital transformation agendas. The pandemic is having a significant impact on how we collaborate, where we work and the relationship between employers and employees,” said Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East & Africa. “For employees to not only strive, but also thrive, organizations must leverage advancements in collaboration technologies, enabling them to establish a future-ready workforce and work towards creating a more inclusive work environment.”

Collaboration technologies and digital skills – a solid foundation for business resilience and growth

If given the chance to be CEO for a day, employees would prioritise embedding effective communication and collaboration, above everything else.

For this to happen, 78% of employees believe businesses need to provide the workforce with similar technology at home as in the office. In fact, 65% agree that one of the big positives to come from lockdown is proof that employees don’t need to be in the same room to collaborate effectively.

Employees believe the 2021 budget priorities for their business should be investing in the technologies needed for remote work and bringing in technology to make the office a safer space from a health perspective.

Employees of all ages are also calling for upskilling: 76% think more training on technology and digital skills will be fundamental to business success in 2021.

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