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New VMware Research Suggests Businesses and Employees at Odds Over Workplace Innovation

More companies with hybrid working policies use formal metrics to measure impact over their office-only counterparts

Automation technology investments seen as key to making hybrid work a success

Two thirds (66%) of all survey respondents believe their organization is more innovative if employees are in the office, according to research unveiled by VMware, a leading innovator in enterprise software.

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“The Distributed Work Dilemma: When Innovation and Job Satisfaction Compete”

The study, “The Distributed Work Dilemma: When Innovation and Job Satisfaction Compete,” conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of VMware, highlights how survey respondent’s views on where they feel they are most innovative are at odds with where they would prefer to work, with 82% of all respondents having higher job satisfaction if they can work from anywhere. In addition, more than half (57%) of respondents with anywhere and hybrid working policies, where they can work in an office and remotely, report increased morale, creativity (56%) and collaboration (55%) within their teams since prior to the pandemic. ​

With growing economic uncertainty, business leaders could be driving employees back into the office with hope that it will enable greater employee innovation and productivity, but with little certainty on its real benefit.

In fact, a higher percentage of organizations with anywhere- and hybrid-work policies have formal metrics in place to track innovation and its impact on the business and employees. Nearly all organizations with an anywhere work policy (97%) have metrics in place to monitor innovation levels versus 83% of those with an office-only policy.

“Greater economic uncertainty is propelling businesses to become even more focused on innovation and productivity, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of all the progress made in developing more flexible working practices,” said Shankar Iyer, senior vice president and general manager, End-User Computing, VMware. “Research has shown that allowing hybrid work creates happier, more engaged, and more collaborative teams, which can naturally lead to increased productivity. Employees believe they can achieve their best work when given the choice of hybrid working, combined with the tools to support this, yet business leaders believe the office is where innovation is driven. Our research suggests that more companies need to deploy formal metrics to measure impact to ensure perception does not outweighing reality. Those with hybrid working policies are clearly taking this very seriously.”

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Over the next 12 months, almost three quarters (72%) of organizations surveyed are planning to invest significantly more in their digital culture, and a third (33%) are prioritizing investments that fuel innovation and creativity. Driving innovation to create business efficiencies, cut costs, or increase market attractiveness is clearly a business imperative.

Automation and digital tools are helping organizations do more with less. Among businesses where investment in automation has increased, more than half (53%) of businesses are investing in automation to help increase employee experience and productivity. Additionally, 43% are looking for automation to help accelerate innovation, while 50% seek to create faster and lower-cost operations. The highest levels of investment are concentrated amongst organizations with hybrid- or anywhere-work policies versus those with office-only policies. This suggests that business innovation and productivity must be prioritised, but not at the expense of working location flexibility.

Iyer adds, “The mythical inflection point where all employees are office-based is not guaranteed to happen. Companies must continue to strike the right balance between boosting innovation without crushing employee motivation and productivity. By investing in digital collaboration tools, automation, and team-building policies, business leaders can drive efficiencies and boost success while still offering the flexibility of office or remote working.”

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