Perhaps more than any other time in history, work is undergoing a dizzying realignment. The constraints of the past no longer hold the ambitions of employees and business leaders captive. Whether it was sacrificing security for flexibility, productivity for compliance, or scalability for efficiency, yesterday’s compromises can be treated as just that: relics of another age.
This moment is filled with promise, but also is fraught with challenges. For IT teams, business leaders, and employees, the path forward is anything but clear. Luckily, technology is emerging not just as a tool, but the glue that holds organizations together in a post-pandemic, hybrid work world.
In the inaugural year of the Citrix Hybrid Work Report, Fieldwork by Citrix finds that as organizations adjust to evolving expectations of their staff and customers they serve, technology must evolve with them. The question is, which indicators should organizations be paying attention to, and how should they act on them?
In this sweeping opinion research project, spanning eight countries and eight industries as varied as life sciences and financial services, Fieldwork by Citrix gauged opinions of employees and business leaders in the midst of this transformation. “Work Rebalanced: The Citrix Hybrid Work Report” utilizes four key pillars — technology, flexibility, trust, and collaboration — to understand the forces challenging and reshaping their organizations.
“Work Rebalanced: The Citrix Hybrid Work Report” collected information from 900 business leaders (job titles included Chief Executive Officer, Chief Finance Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Managing Director, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Operating Officer), and 1,800 employees (knowledge workers) in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The survey included a mix of in-office, hybrid, and remote workers, and interviews were conducted in early 2022 as a partnership between Citrix, Man Bites Dog, and Coleman Parkes Research.
To thrive amid such powerful forces, organizations must create deeply considered strategies that include intelligent IT, empathic leadership, secure platforms, and tech empowerment.
Read on to see how the hybrid work movement is paving the way toward a future without compromises.
Technology is no longer just an enabler of employee productivity. In a hybrid work world, technology is a tool of empowerment.
According to “Work Rebalanced: The Citrix Hybrid Work Report,” where employees work plays a role in how they relate to technology. Hybrid workers (68 percent) generally are more likely than either in-office workers (60 percent) or fully remote workers (65 percent) to say that they feel empowered by their work technology.
There is a generational wrinkle to this finding, however. Whereas one might think that Gen Z — the youngest generational cohort in the workplace — would be extraordinarily comfortable with workplace tech, just 56 percent report that their work tech is as easy to use and intuitive as the tech they use in their personal lives. Meanwhile, the comfort level of Generation X stands at 63 percent, and millennials clock in at 70 percent. The takeaway: As more young workers enter and advance in the workplace, workplace technology should be built with their working styles in mind, and feel as seamless and intuitive as the most popular consumer tech platforms.
Regardless of the tech experience, organizations still need to ensure that their teams, who increasingly sit outside of a corporate network, are following vital safety protocols. Many employees use personal devices and install apps, and with work happening on various devices across multiple locations, keeping sensitive data secure is an increasingly fraught task.
of hybrid workers
are more likely than either in-office workers or fully remote worker to say that they feel empowered by their work technology
Business and IT leaders need to drive strategies to simplify and streamline work technology in this hybrid world, ensuring that employees have the space for ‘deep work’ and focus.
Global Head of Value Advisory
Employees want to work from home or from the office whenever it suits them. A flexible work arrangement means one where employees can physically come together as needed.
Respondents believe in the value of working together in person, with 62 percent of business leaders and 51 percent of employees who come into the office citing collaboration with colleagues as the most popular reason for doing so. And with most knowledge workers (82 percent) living within daily commuting distance of a company office, IRL collaboration remains feasible for many.
That’s not to say that collaboration cannot happen remotely, fueled by tech that works anywhere. Business leaders seem to grasp this, as 63 percent say offering employees flexibility is becoming a key determinant in the job market. But employers are struggling to deliver: Nearly 65 percent of employer respondents said employees now expect a higher degree of flexibility than they can accommodate from a business perspective.
When it comes to increasing flexibility, the need for data security must be addressed as employees working off premises on personal devices may make for easy cyber-attack targets. IT teams should be empowered to put solutions in place that allow work to happen securely, any time, anywhere, while maintaining device, access, and app control.
The future of work isn’t about security or flexibility; it’s security and flexibility. Businesses that do not embrace this emerging reality risk losing out on talent, opportunity, and revenue.
Employees now expect their employers to offer flexibility and wellbeing support in addition to competitive pay. It’s a candidate’s market right now as organizations compete for talent. Offering flexibility benefits that apply to both remote and in-office workers is now considered table stakes. Companies not offering it will arguably struggle to attract and retain their talent.
Vice President, People and Organization Capability
With their teams working in the office, at home, or both, managers understandably want to know that work gets done when employees are away from the office. Indeed, half of business leaders believe that when employees are “out of sight,” they do not work as hard.
Yet they want to trust their employees not only to stay on task, but to stay human. Sixty percent of business leaders say that when deciding whether to award a promotion, an employee’s empathy and emotional intelligence are as important as their technical skills and concrete achievements.
Employees want to trust their managers and business leaders, too — maybe to a fault. According to “Work Rebalanced,” 34 percent of employees believe their company has installed monitoring software on their computer, when in fact, 48 percent of business leaders say they have, and another 32 percent say that they are considering doing so. The specter of monitoring — to say nothing of its expense — can be avoided by adopting technologies (cloud-supported docs and apps, for starters) that make project milestones easy to track against, and holds employees accountable.
Hybrid’s impact registers loudly here. Nearly 60 percent of hybrid workers say they trust their employer, compared to 41 percent of office workers and 42 percent of remote workers. The takeaway is clear: Hybrid ways of working are already helping bridge the employer-employee trust gap.
Whether in an office or at a kitchen table, teams still need a secure digital space to collaborate. Whereas a number of collaborative platforms have hit their strides in these years of upheaval, the next evolution is rapidly coming into view.
The multiverse, also known as the metaverse, in which teams interact and collaborate in a fully virtual environment, is knocking on the workplace door — loudly. Nearly 70 percent of business leaders and over 50 percent of employees believe that by 2025, physical in-person work collaboration will be completely replaced by virtual collaboration. Business leaders’ certainty around this outcome suggests that investments in the space will only accelerate, transforming potential into reality.
Rather than meeting in person, picture a network of three-dimensional virtual worlds and collaboration spaces. As these innovations come into focus, securing data wherever it may be is essential. These locations will provide meeting spaces, areas for creative work, and new possibilities for team interactions at a scale that was scarcely imaginable a couple years ago. They also will play a key role in keeping employees upskilled, engaged, and productive.
Now is the time for business leaders and employees to think about how to meld these emerging workflows and scenarios into their employees’ lives in ways that promote trust, collaboration, and creativity.
We are seeing the beginnings of ‘Extreme Collaboration’ where tech enables us to collaborate in ways that we have never seen before and promises to reconfigure the relationships between colleagues and teams.
Vice President, Technology Strategy
As “Work Rebalanced: The Citrix Hybrid Work Report” illustrates, hybrid work is helping organizations across countries and sectors interrogate yesterday’s ideas about work and move toward a future of tech empowerment — but only in pockets. There is plenty of room for optimization, for listening, and for experimentation, and reason to pay attention to drivers of change.
Technology can allow people to work and collaborate with colleagues wherever and whenever they choose, but it can also erode the divide between work and non-work life. Additionally, data security practices need to be thoughtfully and proactively considered as work is done beyond traditional office settings.
Organizations that both listen to their people and take proactive steps to meet them where they are will be poised to thrive, and build the new world of work.
Optimizing Hybrid Work with Citrix
For most people around the world, the days of going into an office every single day for work are over. Organizations—and more importantly, their people—know that hybrid work is better. Explore what it takes to enable effective hybrid work.