The New Workplace: Employees Want Privacy, Flexible Approach

Nearly 90% of companies plan to remain open in 2022, but employers are reluctant to adapt to a new workplace reality, study shows.

To better understand how employers are embracing the emerging new normal of hybrid work, Density, Inc. recently commissioned “The People’s Workplace” study. Conducted by YouGov on behalf of Density, the research shows that most employers fail to recognize that their employees want greater flexibility, increasingly value optionality, and the protection of individual privacy rights in the workplace.

Employers continue to embrace a traditional approach to work, with two-thirds (63%) of large companies remaining open throughout the pandemic and more than half of all companies (59%) neither closing during the pandemic nor offering any hybrid working option (55%), according to the study. This is in addition to 88% of companies saying that they are keeping their offices open in 2022, with only 10% limiting the number of employees allowed back at one time.

hybrid work
(Source: Density, Inc.)

However, the data shows that just under half of the companies polled (48%) have not implemented any new technologies to support employees returning to the office, despite employees wanting their places of work to feature connected technological devices for a seamless workplace experience.

Employees Concerned About Privacy, Want Flexible Approach

The data revealed that the most important element for employees in a smart office is the ability to protect workers’ identities from hacks and data leaks. In addition, nearly two-thirds (61%) of employees at companies with a workforce of more than 1,000 employees would be concerned about their privacy if their company used camera-based technology in the office to monitor how space is being used.

When asked about the quality valued most in a hybrid workplace, more than half of employees (57%) said a flexible work schedule. This is especially true of employees (59%) at large-scale companies (500–999 employees). The study also showed that one in three employees (32%) want the flexibility to choose where they work day-to-day, despite 39% saying they were working full time from the office.

hybrid work
(Source: Density, Inc.)

“This study shows that the office has a role to play as part of a hybrid working strategy, but that its current model is fundamentally outdated in meeting the changing needs of employees,” said Darren Graver, Research Lead at Density. “We believe that this period of change can either be a reckoning or a renaissance for employers as they re-examine the purpose of the physical workplace. Our anonymous by design technology provides a better understanding of employee behaviors and informs workplace design and real estate strategy through data.”

“At Gensler, we have launched our own research survey since the beginning of the pandemic as the Delta variant was active,” said Janet Pogue, Global Director of Workplace Research at Gensler. “While the Omicron variant has added additional concern and further delayed returns, we found that of the 4 out of 5 employees who knew their company’s plans, about half are flexible work policies that range from requiring everyone in the office at least part-time, to providing WFH options for those that need it, to encouraging staff to be in the office during set ‘core’ days or hours. Our data, like the data in the Density report, also showed that only 9% of companies have given everyone the option to define their own in-office schedules.”

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