According to the study—From Cube to Cloud™: The Next Era
of Work— most organizations have reported significant success in working
- The vast majority (79%) of surveyed leaders who
work at companies with more than 1,000 employees say that flexible work was
- Innovation effectiveness increased since the
onset of the pandemic (48.4% report a very high or high level during vs. 41% prior
to the pandemic)
- Most of those surveyed (55%) say that employee
- Only 16% of respondents say that their
organizational culture has become weaker during the pandemic, with 45%
reporting it strengthened
Some CEOs have expressed a strong desire to have employees
return to the workplace, usually citing concerns involving productivity,
collaboration, innovation, and cultural cohesion. These concerns often are
subjective in nature, and employees are beginning to push back on companies
that don’t provide full flexibility in where and when work gets done.
“The research disagrees with CEOs who are making decisions
to return workers to the office in the name of things like improved innovation
and collaboration,” said Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp. “Most companies adapted
quite well during the pandemic, particularly high-performance organizations.
But in setting new policies on returning to the office, CEOs need to recognize
that their work experience is often pretty different from that of most
employees. Decisions like these need to be based on data and measured employee
sentiment, not personal preference.”
The downside of forced return—even for only part of the work
week—is that companies are likely to lose top talent. Nearly half (48%) of the
business leaders i4cp surveyed say that their organizations are already facing
moderate-to-severe talent attrition, and 65% expect further losses as the
pandemic winds down.
The greatest concern for many organizations involves sudden
departures in critical roles, or loss of high-potential employees who have more
opportunities to join employers with flexible work policies that match their
preferences. Further, with improved workforce diversity a major focus for most organizations,
a return-to-office mandate reduces the available talent pool, particularly diminishing
participation by working mothers.
“One CHRO complained to us recently that her company has
already lost several top candidates to a competitor because of her firm’s refusal
to embrace a flexible work policy,” Oakes adds. “At least in the short term, these
decisions certainly will affect employer brand and the ability to attract new
Instead, the study argues that for organizations to be truly
agile, the onus of managing workers effectively in this new era will fall where
it should: to the manager. Life circumstances aren’t uniform across
organizational roles, levels, or departments, so the decision on where and when
to work productively needs to be an employee-manager decision. Such challenges
mean that managing in the future likely will require enhanced leadership
skills, and the study outlines several capabilities that are expected to become
The study was conducted in partnership with Human Resource Executive, HRM Asia, IVentiv, SHRM APAC, The Talent Company, and Top Employers Institute.
The From Cube to Cloud study is available today
exclusively to i4cp members and can be downloaded here.