A new study by Dell and Intel on workplace trends finds one out of four workers surveyed saying the technology available at their companies holds them back, has hindered their career growth, and that they would consider making a change simply to have access to better technology. 

Researchers surveyed almost 5,000 employees of small, medium and large organizations for the second Global Evolving Workforce Study

It identifies and explores current and future trends pertaining to the workplace and workforce and the role that technology has played in their evolution. 

Steve Lalla, vice president and general manager of Cloud Client Computing for Dell said they hope the research provides key insights for business leaders, IT managers and human resource professionals to consider when recruiting, supporting and retaining their workforce.

“As the research shows, now more than ever, the 'office' isn’t defined by a desk within an employer’s walls. With constant connectivity blurring the lines between professional and personal lives and devices, it’s essential employees have seamless access to data when at the office, at home and on the road so they can stay productive."

Evolving Workforce Study Trend Highlights

Key trends that emerged from the research centered on where and how employees work, the impact technology has on personal and work lives, and predictions around the automation of technology in the future. 

Technology is key to keeping employees happy: One out of four employees globally report they are influenced by the technology provided to them at work to the degree that they would consider taking a new position if it provided better technology to help them be more productive. Fewer than half of employees globally report that their IT departments take their opinions into consideration when selecting new workplace technology.

One size doesn't fit all: Wherever and whenever they are working, employees are using multiple devices, rather than just one, to get their jobs done. Of those who use desktops, more than half also use another device, and those who use either a tablet or 2-in-1 laptop for work only use these in conjunction with other devices. However, tablet and 2-in-1 adoption is growing, with the highest use among executives and in emerging markets. Performance is the top priority for what employees want in their work device with 81 percent stating it as either the first or second most important attribute. 

The office is still where it's at: As employees conduct work in different locations, the office is still the primary place of work. Ninety-seven percent of employees spend at least some time in their employer’s office. Thirty-five percent of employees globally indicate they work in public places for an average of two hours per week. Employees average four hours per week working at an external location, such as a client’s office, and another five hours per week working from home, compared with 29 hours per week working in the office. Distractions in the office, however, are a concern. Seventy-six percent of office-based employees feel they work best in an office at their desk, yet half say they are frequently interrupted. Almost one in five employees wear headphones or earbuds in the office, and that usage doubles for those who feel they are frequently interrupted. The office doesn’t seem to aid in increasing interpersonal communications either, as half of all employees still frequently IM or email colleagues who are located physically near them, rather than talking with them directly.

The productivity debate - office workers vs. remote: Perceptions of at-home workers are shifting as half of the employees surveyed say they believe those working from home are just as productive or more productive than those in the office. Of those who spend any time working from home, half believe they are more productive there than in the office. Respondents said there are clear benefits to working from home in the form of more sleep, less driving and less stress overall. However, not everything about working from home is good. There are distractions from spouses, children, parents and pets. Many report exercising less when working from home, and nearly four out of 10 say they ate more. 

Work life/personal life: As innovations in technology continue to advance, people have increasing flexibility to choose when and where they meet their professional obligations. Sixty-four percent of employees globally conduct at least some business at home after business hours. Managers and company leaders blur the lines between “work” and “personal” more than other employees. They indicate they use personal technology for work more frequently than other employees (64% vs 37%) and take work technology home for personal purposes (45% vs 20%). More than half of employees globally currently use personal devices for work purposes or expect to do so in the future, while 43% of employees globally are "secretly" using personal devices for work without the company knowing.

“The challenge many IT departments face is how to manage and secure the increasing number of devices coming in and out of an organization," says Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst TECHnalysis Research. "Smartphones, in particular, have been the primary device behind the BYOD model. That's forcing many organizations to rethink the way they manage devices, especially ones not purchased or completely accessible by IT.”

The Dell and Intel report says business leaders, IT managers and human resource professionals should focus on the following to better understand their employees’ diverse needs and provide the right environments and technology to enable them to do their best work.

  • Activity-based work - Provide the right technology for the job, which may mean multiple devices. 
  • Seamless Access – Provide employees with access to their data and applications from any device, anywhere, at any time.
  • Security - Ensure not only all BYOD devices are known but the user and access to information is managed and secure.
  • Diverse Environments – Employers need to be flexible and provide the tools to enable workers to be effective in their preferred environment. 

Tags: Intel, IT, Dell, Workplace trends, Technology trends, Global Evolving Workplace Study, BYOD, Information security