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The employee-centric hybrid workplace

Quocirca’s Future of Work Study finds that demand for hybrid working, and employment market turbulence, are changing the role of the office and the corporate technology environment

The Future of Work, 2025 study reveals that post-pandemic transformation is proceeding at pace and that the role and requirements of the modern workplace are undergoing fundamental changes. As the energy crisis and ‘great resignation’ add increasing complexity to decisions (by both employers and employees) on the balance between home and office working, changes are set to continue.

A workforce in flux

According to the research, 36 per cent of workforces are currently working remotely now and 44 per cent will do so by 2025. 42 per cent of respondents said they intend to leave their jobs in the next year with mental health concerns and not feeling valued being key drivers for job changes, and 69 per cent said flexible working will force a rethink of what makes good company culture. Additionally, 67 per cent of businesses expect to lose talent if they don’t offer flexible work options.

Louella Fernandes, Director of Quocirca, said: “The ‘great resignation’ is still strongly in evidence and businesses are acutely aware that they must address employee well-being. Offering a flexible, hybrid work environment with a rich variety of enabling technology can help retain talent by putting put the employee – rather than the building – at the centre of the corporate experience. Additionally, employers must be mindful of the impact of the energy crisis. This may prompt more employees to consider returning
to the office to reduce home energy consumption, but businesses will also be aiming for efficiency in their office footprint to minimise energy costs and emissions.”

The study was conducted among 1,021 office workers and 521 IT decision-makers in SMBs and large enterprises in the UK, France, Germany, and the US.

A new purpose for the office

Office footprints are changing, 40 per cent of those polled are anticipating an increase and 35 per cent a reduction in retained space. Moreover, the office will become an occasional destination – over half (56 per cent) of respondents said the physical workspace would only be used as an occasional meeting point, primarily for the purposes of in-person collaboration.

“There is a clear change in how employees perceive the role and purpose of offices. The focus is on occasional in-person collaboration rather than daily work. We also found growing anticipation of metaverse-enabling office technology, with 61 per cent expecting workers to mainly communicate through video, augmented or virtual reality by 2025,” Louella added.

Print-digital convergence accelerates

Decision-makers and office workers are disconnected on the future of print, with almost three-quarters of ITDMs saying print will be important by 2025, compared to only 50 per cent of office workers.

32 per cent say that digitisation of paper-based processes will be extremely important to digital transformation initiatives, rising from 15 per cent today and 20 per cent of print environments will be fully cloud-based by 2025, compared to just four per cent today.

“Print volumes are unlikely to recover to pre-pandemic levels,” Louella said. “The digitisation of paper-based processes was catalysed during the crisis and the drive is set to continue. We will see print provision becoming more flexible and cloud-based, with print being reserved for high value documents and customer-facing communications, rather than day-to-day use. This also aligns with companies’ drive towards the less-paper office.”

Sustainability agenda continues to drive action

Print policies, cloud print management solutions and managed print services are all being used to address sustainability. Louella argues that sustainability has a strong influence on business decision-making. 67 per cent of survey respondents said sustainability will be a highly important credential for business by 2025.

“Therefore, suppliers must ensure they are communicating environmental benefits alongside efficiency and financial benefits. The print industry seems to have some catching up to do, as we found organisations that are sustainability leaders are least likely to say their deepest relationship will be with a print manufacturer by 2025,” she said.

Print manufacturers losing influence

“Print manufacturers must prioritise diversifying their offerings to incorporate in-demand services such as security and cloud print capabilities if they are to deepen their customer relationships,” Louella noted. Only 16 per cent of respondents expect their deepest relationship to be with print manufacturers by 2025, a fall from 18 per cent today and 26 per cent in the 2019 study.

26 per cent of those polled expect their strongest relationship to be with IT services providers in 2025. “We are already seeing manufacturers innovating around security, cloud, and sustainability, exploring the IT services space for themselves. We expect to see more of this as the sector strives to retain relevance with customers.

“Nevertheless, the pace of evolution will need to increase to keep up with demand for diverse, flexible office provision that puts employees at the centre, as customers seek to retain and support a fragile workforce,” Louella concluded.