A new study by Okta shows that workers want to choose for themselves how they will work in the future; however, some do not believe that their employer allows them this flexibility. […]
More than a year after the start of the first nationwide lockdown, many workers no longer want to return to their former ways of working. This was the result of a new study by Okta, provider of cloud solutions for identity and access management, and Censuswide. The study, in which more than 10,000 office workers participated, including more than 2,000 from Germany, shows that after a year of pandemic-related remote work, employees want the freedom to decide for themselves where, when and how they work.
Three quarters( 75 percent) of respondents in Germany would agree with changes in the law that prohibit companies from forcing them to work in the office on site. 43 Percent want exemptions, e.g. for personnel in emergency services and a third (33 percent) is of the opinion that a requirement of the place of work should violate the law in all cases. Governments are already discussing adapting existing labour rights to facilitate more flexible working models. At the same time, the European Union is planning laws, such as the “right to non-accessibility” outside the established working hours, to strengthen workers ‘ rights.
” Many people in Germany have worked from home for more than a year, ” says Sven Kniest, Regional Vice President Central & Eastern Europe at Okta. “It is clear that in the future, employees want the freedom to decide for themselves whether to return to the office, work remotely or prefer a combination of the two. Whether through a change in the legal situation or even without it – companies should use the opportunity to re-evaluate the old and processes and to enable better working methods. As this leads to higher productivity, innovation and employee satisfaction, many companies are already leading the way and are thus better positioned for the future and more attractive as employers.”
Dynamic working models: Few employees want to return to the office full-time
22 Percent of office workers in Germany want to work in the office five days a week. In a comparable survey conducted by Okta in May 2020, 30 percent of employees said they would like to return to the office full time. Although the desire to work full-time in the office is still most pronounced in Germany compared to other European countries, the trend is towards more dynamic working models. 42 Percent want a hybrid approach in which they spend days in the office as well as at home, 18 percent want to work permanently from home.
Workers have individual preferences. However, these do not always coincide with the working model that you expect your employer to implement in the future. For the period after the restrictions, half (51 percent) of respondents in Germany believe that they are offered more flexibility, e.g. that they no longer have to go to the office every day. Another 29 percent suspect that they will have to return to the office workplace full time. At 16 percent, employers have not yet addressed the issue of flexibility in the workplace for the time after the restrictions.
Equipping offices for the new world of work
In addition to implementing flexible working models, companies face the additional challenge of ensuring that physical workplaces are safe for those who want to return to the office. 32 Percent of Germans say they feel safer when a smaller number of people are admitted to the office at the same time.
Other measures that contribute to employees ‘ sense of security, according to the study, are:
- Mask obligation (28percent)
- Social Distancing (26 percent)
- More flexible working hours to avoid rush hour when commuting (19 percent)
- Technology to improve security, such as phones that help keep the necessary distance (16 percent)
14 Percent of office workers also support mandatory vaccination passes, while another 14 percent support voluntary vaccination certificates. It has already been confirmed that vaccination certificates will play a role in international travel. In addition, it is discussed whether they can also support the safe return to work.
” Companies should respond to the wishes of their teams and take the necessary measures to support them – no matter where they work, ” comments Kniest. “If employees want to return to the office, appropriate safety precautions must be taken at the workplace. If you prefer to work in your home office, you need suitable technical equipment that allows you to work safely and productively at any time and access the necessary resources. In the new world of work, employees set the tone. The location is no longer a top priority and new employees will choose the employer that best meets and takes into account their individual requirements and needs.”
Companies still rely on temporary security solutions
In addition to the preparation of the physical office space, companies also have to catch up in terms of security. More than a third (35 percent) of office workers in Germany say they still use passwords as the only security measure to protect themselves from cyber threats. More than in the Netherlands (23 percent), Sweden (29 percent) and France (32 percent). Only in the United Kingdom and Italy are passwords used more frequently. Nearly a third (30 percent) also say they use VPNs, 23 percent use multi-factor authentication (MFA), and 16 percent don’t know if their employer is using security measures.
Kniest: “It is positive that some employees and companies are already using technologies such as multi-factor authentication to protect against cyber threats. However, the fact that less than a quarter are still using passwords or outdated technologies such as VPNs shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement in security measures,” says Sven Kniest. “At the beginning of the pandemic, companies had to quickly switch to remote work and took short-term measures to protect themselves. Today, a year later, many of these temporary solutions are still in operation. A successful and secure hybrid working model requires the consolidation of all aspects of IT. To achieve this, organizations need flexibility in the technology they use and a strategic approach to how they manage their employees ‘ secure access to company data and information, no matter where they are. Because one thing is certain: the world of work will never be the same again as we knew it before.”
With regard to the situation in Austria in particular, Sven Kniest tells the COMPUTER WORLD the following: “Our study shows one thing very clearly: Employees expect flexibility in the future and want to decide for themselves where and when they work. In April, Austria introduced new legal regulations for working from home. After that, homeoffice is still based on voluntariness: Neither should the employer be able to order homeoffice, nor is there a legal claim to homeoffice. Nevertheless, the new law is a clear sign that remote work and hybrid models are recognized and becoming increasingly important in the world of work. Our study also found that younger generations in particular want flexibility. In order to attract the best talent in the future, it is therefore worthwhile for companies to offer home office options and to invest in the legally prescribed “digital tools” for regular work in the home office – i.e. hardware, but also the required data connection. Secure and easy access to enterprise content and work applications protects the remote workplace and positively impacts employee productivity and motivation.“