A recent survey of 50 of the UK’s biggest firms conducted by the BBC, has reported that 24 have no plans to have staff return to their offices. Many workers do not feel compelled to return to the office either. The McKinsey Reimagine work survey of 5,043 employees in corporates and governments found that there has been a 25% decline in the number of staff who want to work full-time in the office, dropping from 62% pre-Covid to 37% post-pandemic.
While office space is heralded as a place that brings people together, cementing corporate culture and engendering collaborative work and problem-solving, the environment is far from ideal. Air conditioning units recirculate airborne germs around a crowded office space and the room temperature can vary widely.
Most people are not fortunate enough to live just a short walk from their place of work. They have to endure the daily commute and at the start and end of the day, those with kids need to juggle the school run.
So it is not surprising that having worked from home for over a year, many workers feel that a full time return to the office is not what they really want.
Business leaders recognise this sentiment and many are keen to explore hybrid work patterns.
How can IT help?
Hybrid work poses numerous challenges for IT leaders. The role of IT is no longer about providing the right technology to run business functions, but to provide this in a way that works wherever employees decide they want to be. In the home environment, where someone is not surrounded by work colleagues, there are numerous scenarios where IT security could be breached. Locking down devices is an option, but such an approach opens up more IT management headaches in supporting remote users. Providing helpdesk support for a small proportion of remote workers is possible, but how many organisations can say they are confident they can run remote IT support effectively, when two-thirds of staff are working from home?
One of the interesting facts to come out of the Gartner’s 2021 Digital worker experience survey is the need for workers to become more tech savvy, especially in terms of fixing their computers if something goes wrong. There will always be some who’d rather wait until their PC gets fixed, than figure out what has gone wrong, but most would prefer to workaround the problem. Could first line helpdesk support evolve to build frequently asked questions self-help IT support pages and bots to support hybrid workers?