What do employees REALLY want from their workplace experience?

There may have been a time back in 2020, or even 2021, when organizations still thought all desk-based employees would eventually come back to work at the office full time. That ship has since sailed. It’s clear that hybrid work is here to stay. But that doesn’t mean the workplace experience has evolved to keep up.

Many employees continue to experience productivity issues and struggle with finding a sense of purpose in going to the office. How do we know this? Because we asked them about their experiences – the good, the bad, and the ‘how we wish it could be’. And we’ve released the findings in our 2023 Workplace experience trends & insights report.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the top insights the research uncovered.

Insight 01: The RTO movement is still a work in progress.

Just 3% of employees are operating entirely in-person at work. Hybrid is the more attractive option for many employees (54%), and three-quarters of hybrid respondents say they’re going into the office at least once a week.

So, what’s the in-office experience like for these employees? The research shows there’s definitely room for improvement. 93% of respondents who work from the office – whether part-time or fully – feel their organization could do more to improve the in-office experience.

Here are the top five items on their wish list:

No. 1 Provide consistent and simultaneous communications to all employees, whether they work from the office building, remote or hybrid. 53%
No. 2 Offer more flexibility on hybrid/remote options 44%
No. 3 Offer more training on workplace tools 36%
No. 4 Reduce the number of apps/tools necessary to do my work 35%
No. 5 Introduce more helpful digital signage around the building 26%

What does this mean for you?
A sub-par experience in the office gives employees another reason to avoid the commute. If they’re wasting time transitioning to in-office work, or feel like they are still on an isolated island where peer connection remains a distant memory, it’s not going to feel worth it. If you’re interested in encouraging more employees to work in the office more often, give them good reasons to come in.

Insight 02: Despite a significant need, not all organizations have turned to the right technology to streamline in-office experiences.

Nearly a third (28%) of respondents say their organization still hasn’t adopted any technologies or capabilities to support employees returning to the workplace. Among those who have made investments, logistics-focused solutions dominate the list.

No. 1 Room/desk reservations 45%
No. 2 Contactless check-in 35%
No. 3 Digital signage 34%
No. 4 Visitor management 31%
No. 5 Wayfinding within the office building 20%

When it comes to employees’ biggest challenges with their company’s workplace tools and technologies, the number one problem cited is that not everyone in the company uses the same tools and technologies. This is consistent with findings from similar research we conducted in late 2021.

What does this mean for you?
Top opportunities to streamline in-office work include prioritizing self-service IT solutions and easier communication, file sharing, and collaboration. These options largely match what remote employees say would help them perform their jobs more effectively — meaning companies can make technology investments to benefit employees across multiple locations.

Insight 03: Collaboration and communication top employees’ list of challenges, regardless of work location.

The vast majority (86%) of respondents say their organization provides a consistent employee experience and company culture among all employees, regardless of whether they work fully remote, hybrid, or fully in-person.

Although we love to see the equity, it’s important to keep in mind that “consistent” doesn’t always equal “good.” There are still systemic workplace challenges, and employees report that the top two center around communication and collaboration.

No. 1 Collaborating across teams, departments and/or locations
No. 2 Communicating quickly and seamlessly across platforms and devices
No. 3 Solving technical/IT issues
No. 4 Finding and sharing organizational knowledge
No. 5 Following workflow processes using consistent tools and platforms

For remote employees, feeling connected to their organizations and peers is even more of a pain. The majority (79%) of remote employees struggle with at least one of a few key challenges, including feeling connected and engaged with their work, finding a sense of belonging and culture and their company, and feeling a sense of camaraderie with their coworkers.

What does this mean for you?
High-functioning teams are able to break down barriers to communication. Organizations need to invest in technology solutions that not only act as a trusted, real-time communication channel, but drive connection and collaboration no matter where work gets done.

Insight 04: Younger employees increase calls for connectivity.

Our research uncovered that younger employees are more likely to pursue hybrid work, while older employees are more likely to prefer working fully remote.

Fully remote Hybrid
Millennials 38% 59%
Gen X 48% 50%
Baby Boomers 56% 44%

There is a strong benefit to younger employees coming into the office some of the time. According to Gallup, “To be successful, young workers need to work alongside experienced peers, informal mentors and coaches. They also need to be exposed to other departments and levels of their organization. They may be entering the workforce with a narrow view of “success,” and those unexpected interactions at work may provide new opportunities they didn’t know were possible.”

However, if their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts are more likely to work fully remote the urgency increases to give younger employees the most effective technology to aid with communication and collaboration. In fact, all generations ranked “provide consistent and simultaneous communications to all employees, whether they work from the office building, remote, or hybrid” as the top in-office improvement option.

What does this mean for you?
There’s another generation entering the workforce now – Gen Z. Thanks to the pandemic, some of this generation were forced to complete university or college via fully remote learning. Without the opportunity to practice things like in-person interactions and presentations, they may need even more support to form positive connections and build meaningful relationships with colleagues. Successful organizations will take into account the unique communications and collaboration needs of every generation in their workforce.

Because we’re never going back to the way work was. There’s Appspace.

Through 2023 and beyond, the office will be anywhere employees want and need it to be. The organizations who listen to their people and invest in building a workplace experience that makes a meaningful difference to every employee’s work day will win, with deeper engagement, higher productivity, and less turnover.

This article only scratches the surface of the data gathered through the 2023 Workplace experience trends & insights report.

Want to dig deeper into the findings? Grab your own copy over here.

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