A recent global survey conducted by Vanson Bourne and commissioned by VMware sheds light on how the protracted pandemic, the Great Resignation, and now – a looming recession – have impacted businesses of all sizes.

The survey, titled “The Distributed Work Dilemma: When Innovation and Job Satisfaction Compete,” includes insights from more than 5,300 HR, IT and business decision-makers as well as employee-level respondents.

Here are three top findings and takeaways

Innovation happens in person.

The survey found that 66% of respondents believe that their organization is more innovative when employees are in the office. Specifically, the majority of respondents from the following types of organizations favor in-person work as a driver for innovation: 

  • Small organizations (with 500-999 employees) – 74%
  • Large organizations (with more than 5,000 employees) – 54%
  • Private sector organizations – 68%
  • Public sector organizations – 55%

Takeaway: Organizations are now faced with the challenge of how to spur innovation without driving away top talent who prefer to work from anywhere. This can be achieved by investing in digital collaboration tools, creating hybrid working policies, and establishing in-office “innovation” days to ensure business goals are met while employees retain flexibility.

The employer-employee power balance continues to shift.

When asked how often they would prefer to work from the office, both decision-makers and employee-level respondents answered an average of 60% of the time. Although they are in synch on some issues, misalignments between leadership and employees abound – and could ultimately spell trouble for employees. While employees have held some power in recent months due to talent shortages, the threat of a recession is starting to shift power back towards employers.

Takeaway: Employers would be wise to balance the interests of the organization with those of their employees, with hybrid working policies and a strong investment in digital collaboration tools being one potential solution.

Automation is filling the talent shortage gaps.

Of those organizations responding to the survey, 62% are currently experiencing talent shortages. And with high rates of turnover correlated to burnout, automation offers a way to ease the pain. Of the respondents, 87% reported increased investment in automation over the last two years.

Takeaway: While organizations with anywhere-work policies are seeing the biggest increases in turnover, those with hybrid work policies are seeing the smallest. Hybrid options appear to give employees the flexibility they crave, while keeping the benefits of office culture, like collaboration and innovation, in place. Investments in automation can fill in the gaps and smooth over the complexities that come with a distributed work environment.

1-3.“The Distributed Work Dilemma: When Innovation and Job Satisfaction Compete,” Vanson Bourne and VMware, 2022.