Employees value working from anywhere over promotion

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Ivanti has announced the results of its annual Everywhere Workplace study that worked with global “future of work” experts and surveyed over 6,100 office workers and IT professionals to uncover employee sentiments related to the past, present and future of work.

The report revealed that the employee priority revolution continues, with a whopping 71 per cent of respondents saying they would prefer to work from anywhere than get a promotion. Despite its popularity, remote work is a double-edged sword, with 10 per cent of respondents reporting a negative effect on their mental health.

The toll the pandemic has taken on employees’ mental health has been significant with 70 per cent of IT women respondents reported experiencing negative effects from remote work, versus only 30 per cent of male respondents in the same group reporting negative effects.

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Additionally, many employees are feeling the effects of losing personal connection with coworkers (9 per cent) and being expected to work longer hours than when in the office (6 per cent).

The report also showed the further gender divide: 56 per cent of female respondents said remote work has affected their mental health negatively, compared to 44 per cent of men. While 52 per cent of women reported having lost personal connection with coworkers, compared to 47 per cent of men.

“Ivanti’s research shows that the remote work experience for both office workers and IT professionals varies across gender lines,” said Meghan Biro founder and CEO of TalentCulture. More men than women report being passed over for a promotion in this digital-first culture. Women, however, are expected to work longer hours, but have benefitted the most overall from the flexibility that remote work brings.”

“This shift in employee experience cannot be ignored. Employers must respond by adopting technology that facilitates collaboration and lessens the disparities in experience across gender lines, and that begins with prioritising employee input in every tech implementation,”

Looking at potential “future of work” models, the research found that 42 per cent of employees prefer a hybrid model of work (a 5 per cent increase since the last study). Thirty per cent of employees said they would prefer to work from home permanently (a 20 per cent decrease since the last study) demonstrating that many are looking to interact with colleagues again.

This decrease could also be attributed to the fact that while remote work has brought many positive changes – respondents indicated that the top three benefits they have realised since working remotely have been time savings due to less commuting (48 per cent), better work/life balance (43 per cent) and a more flexible work schedule (43 per cent) – there have been some drawbacks.

In fact, 49 per cent of respondents said they have been negatively affected in some way by remote work. Among the top concerns were lack of interaction with colleagues (51 per cent), not being able to collaborate or communicate effectively (28 per cent) and noise and distractions (27 per cent).

“The pandemic has catalysed a monumental shift in where and how people work,” said Jeff Abbott, CEO of Ivanti. “The good news is that by increasing automation of common or mundane tasks, companies can improve work-life balance for IT and security teams, plus prevent data breaches and most importantly improve employee experiences.”

Automation will become increasingly important as environments are expected to continue to get more complicated. In fact, 15 per cent of respondents said they would prefer to work from anywhere (an 87 per cent increase since the last study).

Interestingly, 22 per cent of respondents said they became digital nomads during the pandemic and 18 per cent said they are considering becoming a digital nomad. Only 13 per cent of respondents said they would like to work permanently in the office (an 11 per cent decrease since the last study).

The study also found just under a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents have left their job in the past year during the ‘The Great Resignation’ and 28 per cent are considering leaving in the next six months.

When looking at respondents between the ages of 25 and 34, the percentage of individuals who plan to leave their job in the next six months jumps to 36 per cent. Return to the office policies are a key factor in driving resignations. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents stated that they would quit their job if their employer enforced a full-time return to the office policy.

“Employees have more options than ever before—and they’re good options too,” said Biro. “They can go anywhere and work for anyone, so that means that companies have to shift their retention tactics toward implementing the best technology that makes everyone’s jobs easier, and more fun.”

“Amidst the fierce war on talent, it’s more important than ever before to build a winning, diverse and inclusive culture where every individual is highly respected and a company’s mission and core values are demonstrated at every level,” added Abbott.

“People want to work for companies that are making a difference and employees are increasingly leaving their jobs if they don’t believe in the vision and mission. Companies must show they are delivering global value and not just profits, while also prioritising work/life balance.”

Looking to the future, 26 per cent of survey respondents said they hope IT will provide new hardware such as laptops, desktops and mobile devices in 2022, and 26 per cent hope IT will modernise the service desk. Among IT professionals, the desire to modernise the service desk rises to 32 per cent.

This should come as no surprise, as call volumes to service desks have risen during the pandemic, resulting in high operating costs and reduced employee productivity and satisfaction.