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Cisco Study Reveals Canadian Employees Crave In-person Experiences, But Offices Are Not Delivering

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News Summary:

  • Cisco Canada survey shows 64% of employees support their organization’s mandate to return to the office, motivated by the desire to collaborate, ideate and feel a sense of belonging.
  • Current office space is not set up to meet this demand as most (83%) organizations still dedicate more than half their space to individual work stations. 
  • As organizations reevaluate office spaces and policies, flexible work styles must be embraced as preferences are evenly split between in-person, hybrid and remote work.

TORONTO, March 5, 2024 – Today, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) released findings from its Reimagining Workspaces Survey which showed working preferences are shifting as employees crave in-office collaboration and social interactions, and now, the race is on for workspace design and technology to catch up.

Study data found that 76 per cent of Canadian companies are choosing to partially or fully mandate a return to the office with productivity, team communication, and workplace culture as key drivers for the decision. Sixty-four per cent of employees positively support their organization’s decisions, however their motives have significantly evolved. 

Canadians want to be in the office to collaborate (58%), ideate (27%), and foster connections with colleagues (28%), but current workspaces do not meet this need. Most (83%) employers allocate at least half the office to individual work stations. As a result, only 40 per cent of employees say their offices are very well prepared to support changing hybrid work needs. 

“Companies in 2024 need to invest strategically to create spaces that are a magnet for employees,” said Shannon Leininger, President, Cisco Canada. “The backbone of modern workspaces lies in robust, AI-enabled technology infrastructure and seamless, secure connectivity. To meet the evolving needs of employees, workspaces will need to be reimagined and built for purpose.”

Technology is a Baseline Expectation; AI-Enabled Features are Highly Desired

When it comes to the ideal workspace, both employees and employers agree that technology is foundational. Canadian employees ranked technology infrastructure and connectivity (93%) as the most important in office design, followed by layout and seating arrangements (90%), and collaboration and meeting spaces (86%). 

Employees also see an opportunity for artificial intelligence (AI) to improve collaboration and their working experiences, but AI adoption among employers is not keeping pace. For example, while over half (53%) of employees agree AI-powered meeting room devices would be most useful to them, only 36 per cent of employers plan to invest in them. Similarly, while 81 per cent of employees agree AI-assistant tools would be most useful to them, only 61 per cent of employers intend to invest in these features. 

Flexibility and Hybrid Work Models are Here to Stay

The data shows working preferences across all levels of employees are evenly split so flexibility will continue to be essential for organizations as they work to meet employee expectations. Of Canadian employers, 24 per cent prefer a mix of working from home and the office, 37 per cent prefer to be mostly in the office, and 34 per cent prefer working mainly from home. The trend is mirrored in employees as 29 per cent prefer a mix of working from home and the office, 34 per cent prefer to work mostly from the office, and 30 per cent prefer working mostly from home. 

Office Redesigns are Underway

Organizations are beginning to transform office spaces. Two-thirds (64%) of employers have redesigned their office in the wake of the pandemic or are planning to do so in the next 24 months. 

Regular enhancements to workspace layouts (63%) and technology features (60%) are the top items for organizations that have allocated budgets to office redesign, however considerations for AI and cybersecurity are lagging which means businesses may not be setting themselves up for long-term success. Only 21 per cent plan to prioritize AI technology in their office redesign and just 18 per cent have allocated a budget for cybersecurity. It is critical businesses allocate resources and focus on AI and cybersecurity. AI will fuel significant transformation for businesses that can successfully harness it and a strong cybersecurity posture will ensure that every organization, including its data, its people and its customers, is protected.

The Cisco Canada Reimagining Workspaces Survey is based on an online research survey conducted with 150 Canadian employers and 500 Canadian employees in January and February 2024.

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About Cisco

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide technology leader that securely connects everything to make anything possible. Our purpose is to power an inclusive future for all by helping our customers reimagine their applications, power hybrid work, secure their enterprise, transform their infrastructure, and meet their sustainability goals. Discover more on The Newsroom and follow us on X at @Cisco.

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