Results Demonstrate Ongoing Musical Chairs Strategies Required for 2022 Return to Office Planning
BELLEVUE, Wash., Oct. 27, 2021 – Unify Square, a Unisys company and the leading management & security software and services provider for Zoom and Microsoft collaboration and communications platforms, today released results from its second annual survey, Status Report: Workplace Collaboration 2021. The survey explores enterprise employees’ evolving perspectives on collaboration and communication since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the hybrid workplace will continue to evolve post-pandemic.
The Future of Work Looks Fast Paced, and Well Spaced
As enterprises and employees alike continue to map out their ideal post-pandemic world, many plans focus on more user experience-driven integration between unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) platforms and in-person work models. Spacing out desks to avoid contaminating other video calls leads for the most adopted and desired (64%) hybrid work scenario, followed by use of virtual whiteboard tools/apps (28%) and expanded use of hot desking/shared seating (25%). Younger workers are less bothered by loud video calls, however, with only a quarter of 18 to 24 year olds identifying spaced-out desks as important.
When it comes to communication, collaboration apps have eclipsed text messages in terms of response time, with respondents identifying Microsoft Teams, Slack or Zoom messages as the quickest message they respond to (21% in less than one minute). Younger age groups are also starting to prefer asynchronous messaging – a communication method wherein the system puts a message in a message queue and does not require an immediate response, and one of the emerging trends post-pandemic. 48% of 18 to 24 year olds stated they are sending or receiving asynchronous messages either very frequently or frequently, ranking higher than all respondents’ 35%.
You Can (Sometimes) Get What You Want
While much has changed over the last year, people’s perspectives on working remotely have largely stayed the same. Organizations didn’t make significant changes to the types of collaboration apps offered to employees – mainly Zoom and Microsoft Teams – and employees didn’t make significant changes to the ways in which they are using UC&C technology.
Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies used only one communications and/or collaboration app. Now, the majority of respondents report using three or more, with Zoom (44%), Microsoft Teams (38%) and Cisco WebEx Teams (16%) being the most popular additions.
Additionally, half of respondents had no remote work option pre-pandemic, while now, more than half (55%) work remotely at least a few days a week. In 2020, about a third of people (32%) said their ideal work location would be 100% in the office. Second to this (22%) was work from home (WFH) with some occasional in-office time. This trend reflects many organizations’ existing plans in 2021 and beyond, with almost 3 out of 4 (71%) employees saying they will be back in the office in some format: some of the time (29%), or all of the time (14%).
Video Conference Calls Have Gone to the Dogs
While we’re over a year and a half into remote and hybrid work, there are still plenty of offenders when it comes to video conferencing pet peeves. Survey respondents identified many factors that cause them to feel uncomfortable on video calls, including constant interruptions due to interferences of kids, dogs, etc. at others’ WFH sites (21%), high volume or frequent noisy sounds at others’ WFH sites (21%) and others’ lack of personal grooming (e.g. unshaved, hair not combed, etc.) (12%).
Working from Home Has Its Perks…
While there have been many benefits to a remote-first work environment, survey respondents identified a more flexible work-life balance (34%) as the biggest, followed by no commute (21%) and enhanced productivity (14%). No matter the benefits, we’re still a long way from our desk jobs for most people – a third of respondents said their current work experience “doesn’t resemble the office at all.”
…But It’s Hard to Top In-Person Interaction
When asked about their companies’ return to office (RTO) plans, almost half of survey respondents identified “real face-to-face human interactions” as the biggest appeal to RTO, with 65+ year-olds missing their coworkers the most (70%), followed by 56% of 55 to 64 year olds and 47% of 35 to 44 year olds. Further, almost one third of 18 to 24 year olds reported their company’s RTO plans have made them more likely to quit.
With hybrid work here to stay and the Great Resignation in full swing, it’s crucial for organizations to be attuned to employee needs to build a productive and loyal workforce. Creating a forward-looking workspace with plenty of room to collaborate – both on- and offline – is key, as well as embracing new methods of communication, like asynchronous messaging. The organizations utilizing UC&C platforms effectively will be best positioned to balance between in-person and remote work and keep both employees and customers happy.
To dive deeper into the results, please visit here. Unify Square will release more insights from the survey, focused on collaboration security and governance, in December 2021.
About the Research
Unify Square commissioned a survey of nearly 600 full-time enterprise employees working at organizations with at least 500 employees.