Flexibility To Work Remotely: The New Normal

Staples Workplace Survey reveals the ability to work remotely is a “must have” for nearly half of employees.

Just 32 percent of employees spent all their time working in, or at their office this year, according to the recent Staples Workplace Survey. The flexibility to work remotely is the new normal for office workers, with 43 percent of employees saying it’s a must-have. There’s a gap, however, between what workers expect and employers are providing: Only 38 percent of employers explicitly offer the benefit to work remotely, according to the survey.

While the office is still home base, working remotely at least occasionally has gone from a nice-to-have, to an essential part of the workplace affecting everything from talent recruitment to productivity.

The Open Office

Once thought to foster collaboration and creativity, offices with open floorplans correlate with increased distractions and may even be driving more people away from the traditional office, the survey revealed.

“The open office may have gone too far and could ultimately get in the way of itself. While employees in open offices are more likely to think of their office culture and environment as transparent, distractions — like regularly overhearing co-workers’ personal conversations — have become unavoidable,” said Modupe Akinola, Ph.D., associate professor of leadership & ethics at Columbia Business School. “These distractions have the potential to hinder productivity, increase stress, and drive employees away from the same offices that were designed with the intention of fostering collaboration.”

According to the Staples survey, 57 percent of survey respondents say working remotely removes distractions. Employees working in an open floor plan spend 11 percent less time in the office than those in a closed environment.

While the open model is flawed, there are other ways for businesses to make their employees feel more engaged. Seventy-one percent of workers say being able to sit in different locations throughout the office – a practice known as agility seating, or “hotdesking” – deepens their connection with their employer.

“The Workplace Survey arms businesses of all sizes with insight into the latest workplace trends so businesses can stay relevant and keep employees happy, productive, and motivated,” said Neil Ringel, president, North American Delivery, Staples. “Our purpose at Staples is to help the world work better, including the solutions, services and products to help businesses no matter where employees work.”

Take a look at the infographic below for more findings from the Staples Workplace Survey:

work remotely
(Click image to enlarge.)