New research shows a lack of alignment between what employers believe staff want and what employees actually desire when it comes to the future of work.

New research by IDC and Unisys has shown that employers may be out of touch with what staff actually desire in a workplace post-COVID.

Over two-thirds of companies surveyed (66 per cent) stated that they plan to adopt a different operating model than they had before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In justifying why they were making this change, many employers placed staff at the forefront of their overhaul of workforce strategy.

Over-three fifths (61 per cent) said these new models are designed to ensure employee safety whilst almost half (47 per cent) stated their strategy post-COVID would be changed in order to make staff more productive.

However, the most popular reason, cited by 64 per cent of respondents, was that employers wanted to create a better overall employee experience for staff in comparison to before the pandemic.

Despite this, there are key areas where employers’ views and employee needs are not aligned, potentially jeopardising the reasons for enacting change in the first instance.

One of the most popular changes that employees wished to see was a work location and schedule that would be conducive to family life (66 per cent). However, under half of employers acknowledged this (49 per cent) as important.

Furthermore, over half of employees (51 per cent) viewed empowering teams and individuals as essential after the pandemic. Yet, less than a third of businesses (31 per cent) picked up on this view.

Conversely, employers significantly overstated the importance of technology to employees’ working lives. Whilst over half (55 per cent) believed workers would desire the most up-to-date technology to complete their work tasks, this view was shared by only 43 per cent of staff.

Employers were also much more likely to raise concerns over the practicalities of working remotely, compared to employees.

Only under one in 10 workers (7 per cent) were concerned about the lack of management oversight and visibility, this was a much more pressing concern for employers with over 5 times this number (38 per cent) feeling worried about this. This ultimately shows HR may need to do more to track and boost employee performance and help managers to do this aspect of their role in a remote setting.

Finally, the same number of employers (38 per cent) raised concerns about difficulties communicating and working with other team members. However, under a quarter of staff (24 per cent) shared this view.

Holly Muscolino, research vice president, content strategies and the future of work at IDC, stated:

One of the outcomes of 2020 has been the rapid technology, process and policy adjustments that most organisations have made to support hybrid ways of working.

Now we know that, for most, there will be no return to the business models of 2019. Remote employees will continue to comprise almost one-quarter of the global workforce, albeit with some variability across industries. The hybrid workforce – remote, on-site, in the field and transitioning between locations – is here to stay, and the temporary changes organisations put into place throughout 2020 must become permanent going forward.


*These findings can be found in the IDC’s research which surveyed over 1,100 respondents, including business leaders and employees, across 15 countries – including the UK.