Digital workers seek participation in hybrid work models

Digital workplace leaders should provide visibility and audibility for participants

A recent survey conducted by Gartner, Inc. reveals that 77 per cent of digital workers desire active involvement in shaping their hybrid work model. The survey findings highlight the significance of aligning worker preferences with organizational needs to maintain productivity and avoid attrition.

Gartner’s biannual Digital Worker Experience survey, involving 4,861 full-time employees in the U.S., U.K., India, and China, examined the evolving employee experience in the context of hybrid work. The results indicate that while 14 per cent of digital workers prefer a mandated hybrid work environment, a substantial majority of 77 per cent desire the opportunity to participate in creating their own hybrid work model.

Caitlin Duffy, Director in the Gartner HR practice, emphasizes the need for organizations to respond thoughtfully to the shifting wants and needs of employees to ensure sustained productivity and retention. “One of the biggest challenges to hybrid work is the lack of alignment between the variability between what workers want and the predictability organizations, managers, and workers need to be effective,” said Duffy.

The survey also sheds light on the dynamics of hybrid meetings, revealing that 47 per cent of digital workers prefer spending most of their time in virtual meetings with audio and/or video. Hybrid meetings, where some participants are in-person while others join remotely, were ranked as the second-least productive (17 per cent), with audio-only meetings being the least productive, and in-person meetings deemed the most productive (46 per cent).

To enhance productivity and improve the user experience during hybrid meetings, digital workplace leaders are advised to ensure clear visibility and audibility for all participants, facilitate seamless interaction with in-meeting content, simplify meeting join processes, and enable compatibility across various operating systems and devices. Additionally, leaders should evaluate the meeting culture within their organizations, striking a deliberate balance between asynchronous and synchronous work.

The survey also addresses the topic of employee monitoring in the hybrid work environment. While organizations have implemented monitoring systems to gain visibility into employee activities and attendance, the level of trust significantly impacts employee acceptance. When monitoring efforts are seen as beneficial to employees, 96 per cent of respondents express a willingness to accept monitoring:

  • One-third of digital workers would accept monitoring in exchange for support in finding information or data.
  • Thirty percent would accept monitoring in return for proactive outreach from support.
  • Twenty-eight percent would accept monitoring for streamlining information and notifications, as well as receiving performance improvement guidance.

Organizations that embrace transparency and allow employees to opt-in to information and data gathering are seen as more progressive in their approach to monitoring.

The survey also delves into motivators for digital workers to return to the office. While “facetime” or face-to-face interaction is a significant motivator for 40 per cent of workers, other factors such as workplace amenities, the ability to focus, workplace belonging, IT support, and office facilities were highlighted by 45 per cent of respondents. Consequences and expectations from managers ranked lower as motivators (10 per cent).

Caitlin Duffy concludes that as the workplace evolves, HR and digital workplace leaders must collaborate to craft the desired digital employee experience, ensuring alignment with employee preferences and organizational goals.



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