82% of employees expected to return to the office in 12-18 months, Xerox Future of Work Survey reveals

600 IT leaders across the world disclose post-COVID-19 priorities in support of a flexible work environment

104
Survey
The Xerox Future of Work Survey Photo - Xerox

A new global business survey commissioned by Xerox Holdings Corporation shows an estimated 82% of the workforce in respondents’ organizations will have returned to the workplace in 12-18 months’ time, on average. In preparation for a return, companies are investing in new resources to support a hybrid remote / in-office workforce, with 56% increasing technology budgets and 34% planning to speed their digital transformation as a result of COVID-19.

The Xerox Future of Work Survey, conducted by the independent research firm Vanson Bourne, polled 600 IT decision makers including senior C-level professionals, whose organizations have at least 500 employees. Respondents reported challenges caused by the sudden transition to remote work, with 72% citing they were not fully prepared from a technology perspective. In addition to technology (29%), the biggest pain points during the required work from home period were communication breakdown across teams/employees (26%) and maintaining focus (25%).

“While there is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, our research found that over time many companies plan to have most employees back in an office environment. This could be for a variety of reasons, including communication, speed of decision-making and talent development,” said Steve Bandrowczak, Xerox president and chief operations officer. “At the same time, the sudden shutdown and ongoing hybrid work environment has exposed technology gaps that require new or additional investment in the coming months.”

Key survey findings and Xerox takeaways include:

1. Businesses plan to return most employees to the office, though expanded remote work policies are here to stay.

Prior to work from home requirements being imposed, 33% of respondents said network/data security and privacy was their biggest concern with a remote workforce; 24% cited employee productivity followed by 16% citing technology infrastructure. These concerns, coupled with the belief held by 95% of respondents that in-person communication is important for personal development and assessing talent, indicate widespread remote work will not replace more traditional work spaces.

Furthermore, 58% plan to change their work from home policy within the next year, highlighting the need for companies to support a hybrid workforce.

Our takeaway: Employees may not be going back to the office all at once — or even in the same capacity as before — but the need for organizations to support a hybrid workforce is here for the foreseeable future.

2. Sudden stay-at-home orders quickly revealed technology gaps.

The rapid transition to remote work was difficult for most businesses, with only 28% saying they were fully prepared and 29% citing technology as their biggest pain point. With regards to technology specifically, respondents said their top challenges were remote IT support (35%), inadequate workflow solutions (27%), lack of communications and collaboration tools (22%) and lack of cloud-based solutions (10%). 85% of business leaders also missed the accessibility and ease of use of their office printers.

Our takeaway: To mitigate against future disruptions, such as the rapid transition to remote work resulting from COVID-19, companies will look to invest in new technologies and seek added capability from existing tools to accelerate their processes digital transformation.

3. Technology purchasing priorities are shifting to better support employees.

As a result of technology gaps uncovered by having a mostly remote workforce, 70% of IT decision makers globally are reevaluating their budget spend, with companies increasing investment in remote technology resources (55%) or a hybrid of remote and in-office resources (40%). The pandemic also has businesses prioritizing investments in cloud-based software (65%), remote IT (63%) support and collaboration software (52%). Hardware such as laptops and printers were another important consideration.

Our Takeaway: COVID-19 is feeding digital transformation plans and companies are placing a renewed focus on meeting employees’ needs with both hardware and software.

Methodology

The survey of 600 respondents located across the world was conducted by independent research firm Vanson Bourne in May 2020. Respondents included IT decision makers (including senior C-level professionals), all from organizations with at least 500 employees across a range of sectors, including business and professional services, retail, health care, financial services, and travel and hospitality.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now