Flexibility to work remotely is the new norm, finds Staples — is your office keeping up?

by Brianna Crandall — December 1, 2017 — This year only 32% of employees spent all their time working in or at their office, according to a recent survey from office supply retail giant Staples. The flexibility to work remotely is the new normal for office workers, with 43% of employees saying it’s a must-have.

There is a gap, however, between what workers expect and what employers are providing, with only 38% of employers explicitly offering the benefit to work remotely, according to the survey.

While the office is still home base, working remotely at least occasionally has gone from a nice-to-have to an essential part of the workplace, affecting everything from talent recruitment to productivity.

Staples infographic

Full-sized infographic at: http://hub.staplesadvantage.com/h/i/380132368-staples-workplace-survey-what-employees-want?cid=EM:WorkPlaceIndex:43059::2017

The Staples Annual Workplace Survey was conducted by KRC Research on behalf of Staples Business Advantage. 1,004 full-time employees and 200 office managers and facilities managers were surveyed in the US and Canada.

Designed with the intent to foster collaboration and creativity, offices with open floorplans correlate with increased distractions and may even be driving more people away from the traditional office, the survey revealed.

According to Modupe Akinola, Ph.D., associate professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia Business School:

The open office may have gone too far, and could ultimately get in the way of itself. While employees in open offices are more likely to think of their office culture and environment as transparent, distractions — like regularly overhearing co-workers’ personal conversations — have become unavoidable. These distractions have the potential to hinder productivity, increase stress, and drive employees away from the same offices that were designed with the intention of fostering collaboration.

According to the Staples Workplace Survey, 57% of survey respondents say working remotely removes distractions. Employees working in an open floor plan spend 11% less time in the office than those in a closed environment.

While the open model is flawed, there are other ways for businesses to make their employees feel more engaged. A full 71% of workers say being able to sit in different locations throughout the office — a practice known as agility seating, or “hotdesking” — deepens their connection with their employer.

Neil Ringel, president, North American Delivery, Staples, remarked:

The Workplace Survey arms businesses of all sizes with insight into the latest workplace trends so businesses can stay relevant and keep employees happy, productive, and motivated. Our purpose at Staples is to help the world work better, including the solutions, services and products to help businesses no matter where employees work.

Other findings from the Staples Workplace Survey include:

  • Only 27% of Millennials spend all their time in a traditional office.
  • Approximately 14.6 million American office workers are utilizing co-working spaces.
  • 21% of employees would take a 10% pay cut to work in a nicer workplace.
  • 80% of employees believe employers have a responsibility to keep employees mentally and physical well. Yet only 23% of workers say they have access to a dedicated wellness room in their place of work.
  • 44% of employees say they’ve taken a mental health day.
  • 15% of employees say they’ve specifically taken a vacation in a place their phone/computer wouldn’t work.

For more information about the Staples Workplace Survey results, the full report and the  infographic above, visit the company’s Web site.