The omniscient overlord of IT forecasting otherwise known as Gartner is predicting around a two-thirds increase in working from home compared with pre-pandemic levels.
In a study, the analyst group said 47 per cent of knowledge workers would be working remotely come 2022, which is up from 27 per cent in 2019. Meanwhile, 31 per cent of all workers will be plying their trade remotely next year, more than doubling from 14 per cent in 2019.
In its 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey of 10,080 employees across nine countries, Gartner found preference of employees for a "hybrid workplace" meaning around 70 per cent of employees work at least some time remotely, preferring two to four days in different locations outside the main office - which is how Reg readers want to mix up their working week too.
Report co-author and Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal told us that would mean some head-scratching from businesses hoping employees can make the most of their time in the office. While people might be OK doing the bulk of the "day job" at home, they want to come into the office to do something different, he said.
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"It comes down to the collaboration organisations want us to do: these are kind of the icing-on-the-cake activities that will push the organisation forward. They need to be a little bit more structured about that. People say we do most of our collaboration by the watercooler, which is true to some extent. But they're probably spending 5 per cent of their time like that and 90 per cent of everything else is pretty structured. It's kind of reengineering processes and making a much more optimal workplace."
No rest for the wicked - we mean you, IT
What does that mean? Well, weaving collaboration into projects and capturing the output on IT systems. Meanwhile, IT departments will be left supporting a significant increase in home workers, with a spread of understanding about what plugs in where and how to change settings.
In Gartner's view, though, there is hope that home workers have by necessity increased their "digital dexterity" during the pandemic ensuring their increased number do not create a commensurate burden on the IT department.
"Where they need support, they can find online and in chat. And then the phone calls are for really desperate situations," Atwal said.
Gartner's view of home working is reflected in the tech industry. Salesforce, for example, has introduced extensive flexible working with the majority of staff able to spend some time WFH.
Workday, among others, has taken a more conservative view. CEO Aneel Bhusri said he was "a big believer that we're going to be back in the office" earlier this year. And just one in five Googlers anticipate avoiding their employer's office permanently.
One research paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology claimed a daily commute can dent an employee's productivity. Other surveys indicate that work-life-balance has gone out of the window since the pandemic with the lines between personal and work time blurred, and some staff want to return to way things used to be.
On a lighter note, going back into the office will mean that, for some at least, they'll no longer be able to work in PJs or in the buff.®