Last updateMon, 25 Oct 2021 8pm

Employers worry about home office productivity - but often fail to invest in solutions

More than 18 months after the pandemic hit Germany and forced businesses into home offices, only two-fifths of companies say they have provided the tools and technology needed to maintain employee productivity regardless of where they work, according to a survey released today by Ricoh Europe.

The survey, conducted last month with Opinion Matters and involving 250 senior executives from Germany, reveals that more than two-thirds of employers (68%) do not have full confidence in their home office workforce. The results suggest that employers are not always clear about the reasons for their employees' productivity problems. Although there is pent-up demand for implementing new solutions, 48 per cent of respondents believe that investing in AI and automation would increase the productivity of a hybrid workforce.
Employers seem to overestimate the turnaround time of tasks that add real value to customers, while the workforce indicates that particularly less relevant activities are part of their daily work. More than half of employers (58%) expect their employees to spend up to 180 minutes a day on high-value activities. By contrast, in a similar survey in March this year, workers across Europe estimated this to be only 73 minutes on average.
The lack of investment in technology that enables employees to work productively from anywhere suggests that employers are not sufficiently prepared for the realities of the hybrid world of work. Almost half (48 %) of decision-makers in German companies believe that office collaboration is critical to the future success of the company. At the same time, only 27% expect their employer to return to a five-day office week in the next twelve months - making the lack of investment in technology that enables hybrid working even more concerning.
David Mills, CEO of Ricoh Europe, says: "Face-to-face collaboration is obviously important to employers. At the same time, they need to strike a delicate balance between protecting their corporate culture and team spirit, which are often strengthened by office collaboration, and the benefits of hybrid working. It should not be misunderstood that the technologies that promote the productivity of hybrid forms of work are also beneficial when working in the office. This is particularly true of automation and AI-based tools, which are increasingly desired by workers to offload repetitive, less demanding tasks and instead turn to more meaningful activities."
Nicola Downing, COO at Ricoh Europe, added: "The economy has seen more than its fair share of turbulence over the last 18 months. Despite the incredible resilience that businesses have displayed, they now risk losing talent that has been loyal to them during the pandemic if they don't invest in technology that will deliver productivity gains in times of Hybrid Work and beyond. Employers should be aware that by introducing hybrid forms of work, they are putting the needs of their employees at the centre of their decisions. In doing so, they are sending a signal and showing understanding of the challenges their workforce faces. At the same time, it increases productivity and promotes employee loyalty."



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