Home office: More productivity and new challenges

According to a recent PwC study, 57 percent of global managers have noticed an increase in employee performance in the past twelve months. But only 31 percent believe that trust exists between employees and superiors. […]

The current PwC study “Future of Work and Skills” provides an insight into the working world of tomorrow and takes stock of modern forms of work, such as home office and hybrid working. Although the productivity and performance of employees seems to have increased during the pandemic, cultural and leadership–related barriers prevent the development of robust personnel strategies – according to the findings of the current study.

Trust and work-life balance are home office vulnerabilities

Home office and hybrid forms of work caused a short-term increase in productivity in most companies. For example, 57 percent of the managers surveyed say that they have noticed an improvement in employee performance and the achievement of productivity goals in their companies in the past twelve months. Only 4 percent of respondents report a deterioration in productivity.

However, this temporary peak in performance could have come at the expense of social management goals: almost three quarters of the respondents (74 percent) do not believe that the current workload of their employees allows a good work-life balance. In addition, only 31 percent of those surveyed at management level are sure that there is a high level of trust between employees and superiors.

“A major implementation risk in home office management is the establishment of a desirable corporate culture,” says Nicole Prieller, New World New Skills Leader and Partner at PwC Austria, commenting on the study results. “While companies are focusing on driving the digital transformation of their business areas, any mistrust of employees and cultural barriers to new forms of work should not be underestimated. More than ever, there is now a need for inclusive leadership styles in order to meet the changing expectations of the workforce.“

Strategic planning as the key to sustainable productivity

Effective organizational and personnel planning pays off for companies in the long term, as the study confirms. The decisive factors are both scenario-based planning, in which personnel requirements are anticipated on the basis of various possible future scenarios, as well as dynamic planning, which includes the organization’s responsiveness to market and personnel changes. Companies that pursue both approaches to personnel planning are 30 percentage points more likely to achieve their financial and other goals. “The pandemic has further increased the pressure on companies to deal intensively with strategic personnel planning. Due to the expected uncertainties of our time, the introduction of effective planning practices in companies is essential,“ says expert Prieller.

Impact of technological progress must be reflected in personnel strategy

The digitization of business processes continues to be a major concern of global executives. However, as the study shows, there is a gap between the technological progress through automation and artificial intelligence (AI), which is becoming increasingly important in the personnel strategy, and the understanding of its risks. Only 21 percent of the executives surveyed dare to recognize potential risks and to be able to assess them well. And only a quarter (26 percent) are currently able to determine the necessary technological qualifications at all. There is also a need to catch up in terms of education and transparency: only 25 percent of respondents agree to clearly and consistently inform employees and other interest groups about the effects of new technologies such as AI.

“People are an integral part of the technical equation. It is becoming increasingly important for employees to encounter a modern corporate culture that meets their goals and values. Managers are required to increasingly deal with the concerns of their teams, to listen to them and to respond to problems and wishes in order to be able to rely on their competencies and motivation in the long term, “ says Nicole Prieller.

You can find out more about the study here.

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