Design and Construction, Human Resources, Maintenance and Operations, Sustainability/Business Continuity

Want Workers to Return to the Office? Modernize Your Space

As businesses struggle to navigate the hybrid work era, tech firm Cisco has released a new report detailing how the reality of the in-office experience compares to employee expectations around the globe. The report also explores how employers are investing in artificial intelligence (AI) as a transformative tool for workplace collaboration and productivity.

“Making the office a magnet means creating experiences that employees value,” said Jeetu Patel, Cisco’s EVP and general manager of security and collaboration. “To achieve this, organizations must embed hybrid work solutions, infused with AI, into office spaces to foster collaborative experiences for everyone.”

Key survey findings from 14,050 employees and 3,800 employers in 19 countries include:

  • Employees seek in-office collaboration. The report reveals a surprising truth: Employees feel positively about returning to the office, provided the spaces support seamless collaboration, social interaction, and creative brainstorming. While 72% of employees are positive about returning to the office, only 47% believe their work environments are equipped for this new era of hybrid work. The report says it’s time to advocate for and design office spaces that truly support the ways employees want to work together.
  • Office tech needs to change to enable collaboration. Eighty-five percent of employers say that most of their office space is allocated to personal working spaces, creating individual working environments and encouraging individual working habits. Technology infrastructure and integration is a major area of concern across the globe, with ineffective meeting rooms due to inadequate audio and video technology hindering productivity and collaborative efforts. Among employers who find meeting rooms ineffective in boosting in-office productivity, the main reason is insufficient audio and video endpoints, with 41% in the Americas, 52% in Asia Pacific, and 42% around Europe.
  • Employers will invest in office design and tech to attract top talent. Eighty-one percent of employers have already or plan to redesign workspaces in the next 24 months. But these enhancements are not just cosmetic; 90% of employers in the Americas, 94% in Asia Pacific, and 85% in European countries report that collaboration-driven workspace enhancements are highly or moderately effective at attracting and retaining top talent. This is a testament to the belief that the right environment can be a powerful draw for a skilled workforce.
  • Organizations realize the value of AI to increase productivity. Employers are making a strong commitment to integrating AI into the workplace. By 2025, 73% will invest in AI-powered collaboration software, with 68% planning to enhance their workspaces with AI technologies. Eighty percent of employers plan to invest in AI for workspaces and collaboration by the end of 2025, recognizing the potential of AI to revolutionize the working environment. The report says this underscores the need to accelerate AI adoption within the workplace to enhance productivity and create a future-ready office environment.
  • Employers must focus on closing the AI skills gap. While 43% of employees have access to AI technologies, less than half feel proficient in using them. With 1 in 4 employees not well prepared to use AI, this highlights the need for training. The report adds businesses must also select AI that meets both the organization’s and the individual team’s needs.

The full report is available here.

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