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How can your workplace be as flexible as your workforce?

Jun 1, 2022

From our Thought Leader Contributor, EY.

Check out EY’s Future Workplace Index Podcast on CoreNet Global’s What’s Next.

Where do you work?

The whole notion of the workplace is evolving. We know one big reason why, but we also know that the incremental shift toward decentralization, especially for knowledge-driven organizations, predates early 2020.

What we didn’t know was exactly how the working world has been reshaping itself since the advent of the COVID-19 global pandemic — until now. Our inaugural EY Future Workplace Index, one of the first of its kind, offers a new window into the office. And wherever you sit or stand, the new normal is hybrid.

The concrete EY survey data signals a sea change for the traditional nine-to-five office-based environment — but there’s positive news about productivity, culture, and collaboration.

The future is hybrid

The EY Future Workplace Index analyzed responses from C-suite leaders at 501 companies across industry sectors, ranging from 250 employees to more than 25,000. Response data was parsed by sector, size, work function, and workplace management since March 2020.

Yes, companies are slowly migrating employees back to the office, but there is no return to “normal,” and 87% of companies say the pandemic has permanently changed the role of the physical office for their organization.

The EY Future Workplace Index shows that 48% of companies are almost evenly split between office and remote work. Pre-pandemic, the percentage was 66% working in the office, and our survey suggests that number will ultimately land at about 59% in the post-pandemic working world.​

A clear plan for the hybrid workplace is critical

Now that going to an office is no longer an assumed expectation, previous challenges fade as new challenges emerge:

“When it comes to the future workplace, leaders are looking for guidance and are exploring hybrid frameworks, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution to help companies navigate these complex decisions. Companies need to put the right health protocols, office space, technology, and processes in place for their organization to make data-driven decisions in this new world of work, all while keeping flexibility, collaboration, and well-being top of mind for employees.”

Francisco J. Acoba

Principal, Strategy and Transactions, Corporate Real Estate Consulting, Ernst & Young LLP

There is no standard hybrid working plan, but new work standards are evolving over time

With a global pandemic waning, many businesses are still scrambling to reclaim solid ground in brand-new territory.

The landscape doesn’t look the same for everyone. There is an emerging understanding that the future hybrid workplace will require a bespoke approach tailored to specific industry, company, and employee needs. More than ever, bold corporate leadership will be defined by a combination of data-driven decisions and the vision to set trends rather than follow them.

The EY Future Workplace Index shows that the three critical areas in play are real estate or workspace investment, technology capabilities that not only support but also advance business needs, and people strategies that help company culture flourish rather than languish.

Conclusion

The first EY Future Workplace Index confirms that the events of the past two years have profoundly and permanently changed the way our world works.

Flexibility is imperative for future success. Production is not tethered to an office desk, collaboration is not confined to a conference room, leadership can be both virtual and meaningful, and a coffee pot at home can brew connections as strong as the one in the break room.

Interested in hearing more about EY’s Future Workplace Index? Check out The Future Workplace Index Podcast on CoreNet Global’s What’s Next.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization.


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