Work 2021: Fueled by technology, work will happen anywhere, employee engagement and productivity will soar

December 14, 2020 1:00 AM

Fueled by technology, work will happen anywhere, and employee engagement and productivity will soar

According to a study conducted by Citrix and OnePoll, 70% of 10,000 employees feel they are as or more productive working remotely.

By Tim Minahan, 

A year ago, not much about the way we worked had really changed in decades. Most companies still organised work around major hubs in large cities and their workforce was comprised of local talent that commuted to the office every day. Then the global pandemic hit, and everything changed. Flexible work models replaced traditional ones as people were forced to work from home, and work became an activity, not a place. And the change has just begun.

In the year ahead, flexible work models will become the new norm, driving levels of employee engagement, productivity and economic impact the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the industrial revolution. And four key trends will fuel them:

Haters will no longer hate

Once sceptical that ‘real work’ could get done outside the office, executives and managers are now realising the positive impact it can have on employee productivity, work-life balance, mental health, costs, and the environment. According to a study conducted by Citrix and OnePoll, 70% of 10,000 employees feel they are as or more productive working remotely. And 83% feel they have a better work-life balance when working outside the office. Savvy companies are taking note of this and in the year ahead will embrace technology-enabled remote work models that allow them to tap into new skills and talent pools that are beyond commuting distance to traditional work hubs and reap the benefits they provide.

Employees will shun the office

Safety guidelines will limit office capacity for the foreseeable future, causing even knowledge workers to transition to shift work. Many employees simply don’t want to deal with the hassle and anxiety associated with all of this. In fact, 64% of 2,000 respondents to a separate Citrix-OnePoll survey said they would not feel comfortable returning to the office for one month or more.

Recognising this, companies will reimagine the role of the office and shift from designing places to purpose-built spaces where regardless of where they work, employees can efficiently and effectively collaborate with colleagues, partners and customers to drive innovation and value.

Urbanites will take flight

  • As work has gone virtual, location has become less critical to career success and opportunities than ever before. One in four respondents to another Citrix poll of 2,000 knowledge workers indicated they have abandoned their city dwellings, or plan to do so because:
  • Their job is now 100% remote and will be permanently (37%)
  • They now only need to go into the office once a week (25%)
  •  The pandemic has proven that they can do their job from anywhere (22%).
  • Companies will go where talent lives.

The battle for talent hasn’t ceased in light of the pandemic. In many ways, it has only intensified as companies evolve their businesses to accommodate changing market dynamics and customer needs. According to the results of a study conducted by the Centre of Economics and Business Research (Cebr), if given the chance, 95% of 2,500 knowledge workers polled who are currently employed say they would work from home 2.4 days per week, on average.

It is quite certain that companies will continue to face challenges that disrupt work in the year ahead. Those that embrace flexible models and digital technologies can create a better way to work that empowers employees to do their best and power their business forward.

The writer is executive vice-president of strategy at Citrix

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