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Employees don’t want to return to the office

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Three-quarters of knowledge workers say work from home (WFH) support is extremely or very important when considering future employment opportunities. And while there is some desire to return to the office, most employees want to continue WFH in some capacity and expect employers to offer remote work options post-pandemic.

In fact, 46% of knowledge workers plan to work remotely more frequently even after the pandemic ends, and 71% feel extremely or very prepared to work from home long-term.

This was revealed by Nitro, a Melbourne, Australia based developer of document productivity software solutions, in its 2022 Productivity Report.

The report delves into how the pandemic has transformed productivity, workflows and digital initiatives, as well as the trends and technologies shaping work in the future.

It also looks at how pre-pandemic working habits have evolved over the past year and a half. 

Stress? What stress?

WFH not only offered more flexibility during the pandemic, it also lowered stress levels and improved overall employee happiness, according to the report.

In 2020, the number of workers feeling moderately stressed dropped by 12%, while job satisfaction increased by 6%.

Additionally, those who reported no stress at all rose by 66%. This was despite the amount of work that now takes place outside the traditional 6 am to 6 pm window doubling to 20%.

Greater flexibility

Gina O’Reilly, COO of Nitro, says working remotely over a long period of time has given employees greater control over their workdays and more flexibility over their lives in general than ever before.

Without commuting and the need to be in an office nine to five from Monday to Friday, employees can now largely dictate their own schedules, adapting to the needs of their families, taking time out for self-care, managing life’s day-to-day task list, and suchlike, and still get their work done, she adds.

“At Nitro, we announced a Flexible Forever policy last year which we think offers the best of both worlds – virtual-first with in-person time where and when it’s most valuable and we believe this kind of approach is what employees will most appreciate in a post-pandemic world.”

Other findings

Additional highlights from the report include several findings around the evolution of how we work and the importance of having access to the most appropriate tools and solutions to be as productive and efficient as possible.

Firstly, remote work paved the way for paperless. In early 2020, global printing declined by 52% and that trend continued into 2021. Half of respondents say they’re using physical documents and paper-based processes less since the start of the pandemic.

Document processes proved to still be inefficient in 2021. Some 44% of respondents say they are collaborating on documents more since the start of COVID-19. However, 83% claim the way their company handled documents had not improved significantly during the pandemic.

IT budgets are on the rise, in fact eight out of 10 business leaders say IT budgets increased between 10% and 14% from 2020, and two in 10 say it increased more than 25%

Finally, digital document workflows are more important than ever. More workers today are using an eSignature solution than they were pre-pandemic in 2019, which at the time was only 12%. And nearly half of workers say they would be somewhat or much more productive with either an e-signature or PDF solution.

“If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that people can do their jobs and be productive from anywhere and the companies that evaluate and value productivity and outcomes over hours worked will ultimately be the ones that attract and retain the world’s best talent,” says O’Reilly.

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