The global pandemic forced IT teams and business leaders to dramatically rethink where and how their employees work.
With the post-pandemic recovery underway but challenged by the Delta variant and uneven vaccination rates, many organizations are still trying to determine what their future hybrid work model will look like. IDC says stability and geography will define the balance of future work strategies.
Preferred location for work
On a global basis, physical office sites are still expected to be the dominant location for work as organizations find themselves in a more stable and "steady-state" environment. However, the mix of office-based, remote, non-office, and field workers is expected to vary from region to region.
Asia/Pacific workers are more likely to claim the physical office space as a primary work location compared to the United States and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). In EMEA, 27% of respondents prefer remote or work-from-home as their primary work location. Meanwhile, the U.S. workforce currently working remote (44%) is expected to decline, but field and non-office locations are gaining favour as primary work locations.
"The ratio of support for hybrid work opportunities within and across geographies will no doubt continue to evolve. Work primarily within office facilities, while a dominant choice, will certainly be part of a hybrid mix that will flex to address new and unforeseen challenges to organizational, political, and social instability," said Holly Muscolino, research vice president, Content Strategies and Future of Work, IDC.
The quest for experience parity
Another aspect of these evolving hybrid work strategies is the effort to achieve "experience parity" – a comparable employee experience for a hybrid workforce by ensuring that all workers securely interact with corporate resources (including people) with a consistent experience and context across locations.
While experience parity has not yet been achieved by most organizations, nearly half the companies surveyed indicated that their hybrid work technologies, policies, and processes were "in progress" with most key resources available to remote employees with some lingering access or user experience issues.
Amy Loomis, research director for Future of Work says investment in digital and work transformation technologies align with organizational imperatives around improved business resilience and increased employee productivity.
"We are also tracking a direct correlation between spending levels with stronger momentum toward achieving experience parity for hybrid workers while lower spending levels align with more limited or ad hoc approaches," she concluded.