New findings announced by Targus, the global technology and accessories provider, highlights how under-prepared European office workers are to adopt the new ‘work from anywhere’ model.
The representative survey in France, Germany and the UK*, shows people are willing to set foot in offices again but expect greater flexibility and trust to work from other locations.
Reduced days spent working in the office was a top three employee expectation in all countries; just under a half of Brits ranked this as their number 1 expectation. But employers are not equipping staff with the necessary tools to work productively and healthily.
As many as a quarter of British office workers were not supplied with or given a budget to purchase equipment needed to work from home by their employer. This was the case for over 55s and staff based in Northern Ireland (36%) predominantly. In Germany this rose to 29%, and a concerning 35% in France.
Marcus Harvey, Director of B2B EMEA, Targus, says, “We all know how important it is to have the correct desk set up and proper equipment when we are in the office so it’s surprising to see employers are not providing the same level of support to staff working remotely – even a year into the Covid-19 lockdown and social restrictions. This isn’t a short-term situation and employees expect to continue to be flexible with their working location. Standard items such as a wireless keyboard or laptop stand to position the screen at the correct level can make a significant impact to productivity and wellbeing. We might even get to a point where this type of support becomes a dealbreaker in job negotiations.”
The new business as usual
The working from home experience has differed from household to household across Europe, with some keen to swap their kitchen table desks for their dual screened ergonomically set up workspace. German workers are the keenest to get back to the office, 62%, versus 45% in the UK. 59% in France are reluctant to go back – interestingly women want to return more than men (44% vs 39%).
There are changing opinions between ages too; 60% of British Gen Zers want to get back to office life whereas 51% of 45–54-year-olds didn’t. The same is true of Germany where 62% of 16–24-year-olds want to return.
But returning to the office comes with some key conditions and expectations:
Top 3 things people expect to have changed about the office when they return – consistent across UK, France and Germany
- Improved cleaning protocols
- Improved Covid-19 security
- Increased levels of trust to work away from the office
Changes office workers expect to see to improve productivity
- Ultra-quiet desk areas for solo work (40% UK, 45% France, 47% Germany)
- More meeting rooms with better AV equipment (34% UK, 26% France, 24% Germany)
- More social spaces (34% UK, 29% France, 27% Germany)
However, employers do not seem to be actively consulting their teams on these expectations and process of returning to the office, if they will even need to. Over 40% across all three countries haven’t had a discussion with bosses. During a time of uncertainty, now is the time to bring employees on the journey to plan a roadmap out of lockdown, addressing and preparing for their concerns sooner rather than later.
*Survey amongst 4,000 office workers conducted by Censuswide in the UK, France and Germany, February 2021