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Employees are gradually moving to more remote working and perceptions of homeworkers are shifting, but the office is still the primary place of work, according to a study by Dell and Intel.
The second Global Evolving Workforce Study is based on a survey of almost 5,000 employees of small, medium and large organisations in 12 countries.
Key trends that emerged from the research centred on where and how employees work, the impact technology has on personal and work lives, and predictions around the automation of technology in the future. Key findings include that employees are using multiple devices to work and that although they conduct work in different locations, the office still is the primary place of work. Ninety-seven percent of employees spend at least some time in their employer’s office. The report says that, on average, employees in developed markets are spending 32 hours per week in the office, compared to 26 hours for employees in emerging markets. Thirty-five percent of employees globally indicate they work in public places on average two hours per week. Employees average four hours per week working at an external location, such as a client’s office, and another five hours per week working from home, compared with 29 hours per week working in the office.
Distractions in the office, however, are a concern. Office-based employees feel they work best in an office at their desk (76 percent), yet 48 percent indicate they are frequently interrupted. Almost one in five employees wear headphones or earbuds in the office, and that usage doubles for those who feel they are frequently interrupted. Interestingly, 51 percent of employees still frequently IM or email colleagues who are located physically near them, rather than talking to them directly.
The research also shows perceptions of at-home workers are shifting as 52 percent of employees surveyed believe that those working from home are just as productive or more productive than those in the office. However, this perception has not shifted everywhere as four out of 10 employees in China, India, Turkey and UAE believe those working from home are less productive, and 29 percent of those in developed countries aren’t sure what to think. Of those who spend any time working from home, half believe they are more productive there than in the office. Of the remaining 50 percent, 36 percent believe they are equally as productive at home as in the office, and only 14 percent say less productive. Some 30 percent of homeworkers say they sleep more, 40 percent drive less and 46 percent of employees feel less stress, but some complain of distractions from spouses, children, parents and pets in the home and 20 percent of employees indicate they exercise less when working from home, with 38 percent indicate snacking more.
Sixty-four percent of employees globally said they conduct at least some business at home after business hours. Employees in emerging countries are increasingly expected to be accessible at home, with 83 percent indicating they check work email after hours, compared to 42 percent in developed markets. Executives blur the lines between “work” and “personal” more than other employees. They indicate they use personal technology for work more frequently than other employees (64 percent vs 37 percent), take work technology home for personal purposes (45 percent vs 20 percent) and access personal websites/apps/software at work (67 percent vs 49 percent).
More than half of employees globally said they currently use personal devices for work purposes or expect to do so in the future, while 43 percent of employees globally are secretly using personal devices for work without the company knowing, with smartphones and laptops being those most frequently used.
One out of four employees globally reported they were influenced by the technology provided to them at work and would consider taking a new position if provided better technology that helps them be more productive. Employees in the media and entertainment sector are most likely to quit over poor technology. Those in management roles and employees in emerging markets, in particular, expected the best technology in order to stay with their current employer or consider a new one.
Seventy-six percent of employees said technology has had an influence on the way they work in the past year. Forty-six percent said technology has increased their productivity and enabled them to communicate faster. But some feel the technology they have available holds them back from being productive and has hindered their career growth, with that feeling most pronounced in India.
Fewer than half of employees globally report that the IT department takes employees opinions into consideration when selecting technology, but those in emerging markets feel they have more influence over the choices that IT makes.
Employees were generally optimistic about the future of technology, believing it would keep evolving and provide different benefits and capabilities to the workforce, but woiuld not fundamentally change the way in which people work. They believe that in the future, voice recognition will be used instead of the keyboard (92 percent), tablets will completely replace laptops (87 percent), all computers will use hand gestures (87 percent) and keyboards and mice will be obsolete (88 percent). However, only 34 percent of respondents think their job will be fully automated in their lifetime. Those in emerging countries, specifically UAE, India, and Turkey are more willing to rely on technology, while those in UK, US and Japan are looking for a more human touch in their work lives.