With the move toward employing more remote workers than ever before, it's not always clear what the best model is for enterprises seeking to innovate.
VMware released a report on Nov. 29 titled, "The Distributed Work Dilemma: When Innovation and Job Satisfaction Compete" that sheds some light on the issue. The report is based on a study commissioned by VMware and conducted by Vanson Bourne that surveyed 5,300 IT decision-makers and employee-level respondents.
Among the top-level findings is that 66% of respondents said that when employees are actually in the office, enterprises are more innovative. That said, that's not where most individuals have the most job satisfaction, with 82% preferring to have a work-from-anywhere model to be satisfied.
"The most surprising findings showcased that respondents believe innovation happens best when employees are in the office, but job satisfaction is higher with anywhere work policies," Renu Upadhyay, vice president of product marketing, End User Computing, at VMware, told ITPro Today. "This means a hybrid work environment, where teams have a mix of in-office and virtual collaboration, is likely to have the biggest positive outcome for companies."
The report also found that where hybrid working policies are in place, 57% of respondents said that it increases morale and 55% said it actually increases collaboration.
In addition, more than half (57%) of respondents with anywhere and hybrid working policies — where they can work in an office and remotely — report increased morale, creativity (56%), and collaboration (55%) within their teams since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
VMware Report Reveals Key Metrics for Monitoring Innovation Levels with Hybrid Operations
Measuring innovation isn't just an abstract operation for modern organizations.
The report, Upadhyay said, found that the top three metrics organizations use to measure innovation are:
- customer satisfaction (42%)
- improved performance of employees/teams (36%)
- increased revenue (36%)
Other qualifiers for innovation include:
- customer acquisition
- speed of when products or updates are released to market
- new revenue streams
- number of products or updates released to market
- cost of releasing products or updates to market
- number of patents filed
"It's worth noting that the top two ways of measuring innovation are both qualitative, people-focused metrics, while the bottom two ways of measuring are quantitative, product-focused metrics," Upadhyay said. "This could be correlated with the trend toward innovation favoring in-person collaboration."
Upadhyay added that for anywhere and remote work policies, these metrics are important to track because they can provide insights into how employees are performing while they are not in the office, and measure how this impacts innovation.
Other Highlights from Distributed Work Dilemma Report
The report also had several additional key findings, including:
- Power shifts between employers and employees: There are significant shifts in the employment landscape, with employers now starting to have more influence again. Eighty-one percent of respondents said there is likely to be some form of consequence for not complying with their organization's working location policies.
- Large talent gaps and increasing turnover: Finding the right talent in particular sectors, notably cybersecurity, continues to be an issue. The report found that 62% of organizations have some form of talent shortage.
- Automation facilitates anywhere and hybrid work: A key to enabling hybrid work is automation. Eighty-seven percent of organizations reported that they have increased automation-related investments over the past two years.
How to Improve Digital Culture and Hybrid Operations
Whether in-person or working remotely, having a digital culture that helps employees feel connected is critical.
Over the next 12 months, almost three quarters (72%) of organizations surveyed are planning to invest significantly more in their digital culture.
"With organizations facing increased talent shortages and burnout, there's a craving for more tools and training that can help alleviate current challenges," Upadhyay said. "Organizations should be investing in collaboration tools, automation, and team-building policies that optimize innovation instead of waiting for the day employees make a full return to the office."
About the authorSean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He consults to industry and media organizations on technology issues.