Conflicting stakeholder views on the future of work point to gaps in detail, tools and enablement

The pandemic has changed both the way we work and how we think about work as part of our broader human experience. Employees want to be recognized as individuals, not resources – which means organizations must prioritize their wellbeing and work-life balance. Our findings show that leaders, managers and employees often have very different views of what the future of work should look like – and how to enable it. Forward-looking enterprises have moved ahead with secure-by-design digital transformation to enable frontline, hybrid and remote employees to work safely and productively – and those doing this well are reaping significant rewards.

Top 5 factors influencing organizations’ workplace strategy

Value attached to EX within the organization

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Figure 1: Value attached to EX within the organization

To what extent is the value and business contribution of the employee experience (EX) recognized within your organization? n=1,146

Satisfaction with current EX capability

Figure 2: Satisfaction with current EX capability (organizational and employee view)

Organizations: How satisfied is your organization with its current employee experience (EX capability? n=1,146

Employees: How happy are you working for your employer? n=1,402

While 64.4% of CEOs are very satisfied with their current EX capability; just 23.3% in operations say the same.

90.6% of organizations recognize the value of EX to their strategy or as a crucial strategic differentiator … yet, just 25.0% fully agree the value of EX is understood and embraced across the enterprise.

There’s a considerable disconnect between intent and execution in the enterprise: Our findings show most executives believe they’ve made more progress in key areas of workplace strategy than what their operations teams – and employees – believe.

Organizational strategies, policies and technology to enable different workstyles are yet to be clearly defined.
The main barrier to achieving desired operating models is that different enterprise functions and employee groups want different things.

Technology dependences are growing, but internal skills to optimize those technologies are scarce.
Without the right skills to implement and support technologies that augment EX and CX, customer satisfaction will drop – and so will revenue and profits.

Limited in-house skills are a barrier to maximizing technology investments in order to enhance EX, CX and overall performance.

While technology can help overcome many external barriers, humans are still siloed in their thinking. To address the gaps between perception and performance, the entire executive team should be responsible for driving workplace strategies that enable business outcomes and ensure shareholder value – and ensure there’s a plan to execute it effectively.

Top 10 reasons organizations are failing to achieve their desired operating model

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Figure 3: Barriers to organizations achieving their desired operating model

What, if anything, is stopping you achieving your organization’s desired operating model? n=1,146


of organizations say their future workplace strategy is defined and agreed.


of CEOs say strategies to modernize and digitally optimize the future workplace are defined and agreed (up from 62.5% in 2020) 


of operations staff would agree.


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Figure 4: Tools and technologies part of current workplace strategy

Which, if any, of the following tools and technologies are part of your current workplace strategy? Base: IT & CDO n=350

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Figure 5: Deployment of technologies to enable employees and improve productivity

Which, if any, technologies have you deployed to enable employees and improve productivity? n=1,146


Employee work locations – pre-pandemic and now

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Figure 6: Employee work locations pre-pandemic and now

In what type of location do you currently work? And where did you work at the start of 2020? n=1,402

Expected level of remote working for hybrid workers post-pandemic

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Figure 7: Organizations’ expected return-to-workplace model

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, has your organization returned to office(s) and workplaces as normal, or are you adopting a more distributed resource and workplace model??n=1,146


Although hybrid operating models have introduced new challenges to implementing and measuring sustainability initiatives, this year’s findings indicate many organizations are stepping up to drive positive change in their areas of influence.

There’s been an increased focus on a range of sustainability initiatives in the last 12 months, and more organizations have signed up to comply with international sustainability and workplace standards.

Sustainability is key to workspace design and the connected workforce. It’s moved from the realm of compliance and is taking a more prominent position in how organizations build their brand, attract and retain talent, differentiate and reduce operational costs.

As they work towards net-zero targets, organizations will need to broaden the scope of their sustainability efforts and engage employees both individually and collectively to drive positive change. They now need to look at sustainability holistically, across all work locations and employee workstyles, to gain an accurate assessment of their current situation and where to focus future efforts.


of organizations agree that they’re aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in support of their ESG agenda.


say sustainability is part of their sales proposition to customers; another 29.8% say it’s part of their procurement requirements for vendors.


of employees say they will select an employer based on the company’s purpose and values.

Areas of sustainability focus for organizations

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Figure 8: Areas of sustainability focus for organizations

Which, if any, of the following form part of your organization's focus on sustainability? n=1,146

Benefits of technology to ESG agenda

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Figure 9: Benefits of technology to ESG agenda

How, if at all, does technology benefit your ESG (environment, social and governance) agenda? n=1,146

Delivering a connected experience

Work is part of our human experience, so work experiences should be designed around what motivates and empowers humans. Organizations need to architect new ways of working that are hybrid, flexible and secure – delivering a consistent and frictionless user experience while focusing on security, scalability and cost.

Find out how you can accelerate your workplace transformation by downloading our 2021 Global Workplace Report below. This year's Report includes research from global organizations as well as global employees.


Get your copy of the 2021 Global Workplace Report and access our benchmarking portal to gain an in-depth view of the entire data set

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