Irish document and information management provider, Kefron today announced the results of its ‘2021 Smarter Office Survey’, revealing how Irish businesses are navigating the challenges of adapting their offices to the realities of the post-COVID environment. The survey was undertaken in May and June 2021 amongst 77 companies across multiple sectors in Ireland including financial, legal, public sector, business services, medical and pharmaceutical.
The survey carried out in May of this year revealed that 79% of businesses were planning for only a partial return to the physical office in the recovery phase of the pandemic, with only 2 in 10 businesses currently seeking to fully return to the office in the coming months. When reflecting on the experience of a year of remote working, 38% of business reported seeing no change in productivity, 36% seeing an increase and 26% seeing a decrease.
In light the continuing demand for flexible working arrangements post-COVID, almost three-quarters of respondents agreed that accelerating the move to a smarter office, which enables employees to work from home or in-person, will be crucial to their organisation’s future success.
According to the new survey, the main obstacles facing businesses in reframing the role of the office this year include a continued leadership focus on mitigating the short-term challenges posed by the pandemic (35%), outdated work practices (23%), an absence of a digital strategy (12%) and a lack of in-house skills and expertise (8%).
Business leaders expressed a range of priorities for the remainder of 2021. Twenty eight percent of respondents agreed that maintaining a connected workforce will be their top priority, while 26% said that simplifying processes and work practices within the office will be the number one concern. This was followed by driving business efficiencies (13%) and improving productivity (12%).
Commenting on the research, Managing Director of Kefron, Paul Kearns said, "Our survey findings indicate that the Irish business landscape is going through a major transitional moment, especially with regard to how organisations think about the physical office. With the vast majority of businesses preparing for a partial, rather than full, return to the office, it’s now clear that the office will no longer confined to just four walls. It is becoming a hybrid space where employees can access information from any location securely so they can do their best work."
He added, "Business leaders voiced a number of concerns about the future of a smarter office, especially as it relates to employee collaboration and the threat of cyber-attacks. Going forward, the challenge for organisations of all sizes will be to develop robust systems that increase efficiency, reduce environmental damage, meet the needs of employees and customers alike, and protect their data from various existing and future risks. These concerns should be at the heart of each business’s plan as they embrace the smart office in 2021 and beyond."