The latest research from Ricoh Europe into the new working environment that firms face themselves in has revealed that sub-standard technology experiences during the pandemic have worn down company culture in mid-size businesses, risking workforce productivity and morale in the long-term.
The study investigated the remote working experiences of 632 European office workers at firms with between 250 and 999 employees during the coronavirus pandemic, and revealed a world of work where employees are feeling the pressure to be online more while working remotely. Yet, in this world, workers were also experiencing difficulties staying motivated and missing the sense of workplace camaraderie they felt in the office.
The fundamental basis of the Inspiring a Dispersed Digital Workforce initiative is that clear communication and healthy working relationships are the bedrock of a supportive company culture. However, it found that 42% of employees believe their company culture has suffered as teams started working remotely due to coronavirus restrictions.
Poor communication technology was also taking its toll on collaboration. Just under a third (31%) of employees found it difficult to feel motivated and engaged while remote working due to communication and technological problems, while two-thirds (65%) said they miss working with colleagues face-to-face.
Ricoh discovered the challenges of remote working have also impacted employee stress. Nearly a third (30%) of workers say that have felt pressured by their employers to be online more while remote working. Similarly, 31% felt more stressed when working remotely due to external factors such as family responsibilities.
As a result of the increase in adoption of the new the hybrid way of working, workers were expecting companies to support their need for a personalised working experience, with 67% trusting their company would be more open to flexible working following the pandemic.
Some companies have already started to make the office safe for an eventual return: 77% of workers report their employers have put strategies in place to make returning to the office safe after the pandemic has passed. However, only 53% of employees said they have been regularly consulted by their employer on their feelings and concerns around creating a safe workplace.
In the last iteration of the study released in October 2020, Ricoh revealed that two-thirds (66%) envisaged retaining the flexibility gained during lockdown and 55% trusted their company to invest in technology that would meet the workplace requirements of the future. This included making the office safer, with 40% saying they would not be comfortable returning unless there were additional safety measures, such as temperature scanners and touchless equipment.
Commenting on the study, Nicola Downing, chief operating officer at Ricoh Europe, said 2020 was a year of adjustments for everyone, and that our collective resilience should be applauded – but that shouldn’t stop businesses from continuing to refine and improve the working experience.
“The focus needs to be on bringing people together in better ways, whether they are working at home or in the office,” she said.
“The right technology makes collaboration and connectivity seamless, bridging the social divide. But in the end, few things can replicate the buzz of working in close proximity with your colleagues. That’s why making sure offices are smart and safe is vital. Consulting with employees will also go a long way to creating that all-important positive culture.”