September 14, 2023

7 min

Digital Workspace Survey: How Employees Flip the Switch from Home to Office

What are the major challenges for employees in shifting gears from working remotely at home to going into an office and vice versa?

What's Inside
Lady typing on a laptop, while working from home.

How seamless is the shift from working at home to going into an office or moving from the office to working from home?  

A recent survey on digital workspaces conducted by CDW Canada on the Angus Reid Forum looked to answer that question and others through an examination of a wide range of topics related to remote and hybrid working, the challenges for employees in adapting to different working environments, the technologies they require and what’s needed to build effective digital workspaces.

We wondered whether there are major challenges for employees in shifting gears from working remotely at home to going into an office and vice-versa.  

Top challenges of moving between WFH and in-office work

According to our survey, most workers said they have little difficulty shifting from working at home to heading into the office. An overwhelming 90 percent of those who identify as hybrid workers said it is “easy” or “very easy” to make the switch from home to office. By gender, both men and women respond almost equally (90 percent of men and 89 percent of women). Likewise, by age demographics, responses from all groups are similar. A total of 93 percent of those aged 18 to 34 years, 87 percent of those aged 35 to 54 and 91 percent of those 55 and older say it is easy.

Still, for some the experience can vary dramatically between working at home and going into the office.

“Amidst the pandemic, numerous individuals dedicated time to arranging their home office spaces in manners that suited their needs,” says CDW Canada Field Solution Architect Ritu Dhaliwal. "As they transition back to office settings, even on a partial basis, certain companies have neglected the enhancement of their office facilities with tools and technologies that could enhance employees' overall experiences.

“Prior to the pandemic most end users had dedicated desks or workstations at the office,” she adds. “Presently, there is an increased practice of hoteling or the requirement to reserve meeting rooms for the purpose of collaborating with both remote and in-office teams. However, the necessary equipment to ensure exceptional remote meeting experiences is not always accessible.”

The CDW survey revealed that among the reasons why those who say it is either “difficult” or “very difficult” to make the switch from working at home to going to the office are:

  • 56% say it takes too long to make the commute
  • 52% say the office is not a good working environment
  • 48% say they are less productive in the office
  • 47% say their lives can’t be as flexible
  • 44% say it is a challenge to commute
  • 41% say it is too expensive to commute
  • 35% say their office setup isn’t as good as it is at home
  • 28% say they need to take IT hardware from home to the office

Unfamiliarity with the complexity of some in-office technologies and equipment used for remote meetings can frustrate end users and impact their productivity, Dhaliwal says.

“Occasionally, when attempting to conduct a meeting from the office, a significant amount of time is expended on getting the room's equipment functioning correctly. This is in contrast to the seamless experience of participants connecting from their home offices,” she says. “For them it typically takes a few seconds to join.”

How can employers make in-office work more worthwhile?

CDW research revealed that the vast majority (77 percent) of 18- to 34-year-olds cited both long commute times as well as being less productive in the office as barriers when transitioning from at-home to office work. For respondents 55 and older, these issues weren’t nearly as prevalent, with just 40 percent citing long commute times and 41 percent citing being less productive as difficulties associated with working from the office.

Commuting to the office, especially in major urban areas, can be a time consuming, difficult and frustrating experience. During the pandemic, many people became accustomed to no longer battling traffic and throngs of commuters just to get to work. As organizations shift to hybrid working, Dhaliwal says many look to make the experience of coming into the office more worthwhile for their employees.

“Those organizations are asking, ‘What are the incentives we can offer to get them into the office?’” she says. “Offices are a real-estate investment for employers, so they want to make sure they’re getting good utilization of that space.”

Working from home can be a much less distracting and quieter environment for doing administrative or “heads-down” work and may convince some that they are more productive outside of working in an office. However, Dhaliwal says offices are the places where effective relationship-building happens.

“Working in an office means getting on to the sales floor, talking to sales managers directly and getting in front of their teams,” she says. “A virtual session can’t usually recreate in-office personal experiences. When it comes to collaboration and relationship-building, working in the office can be extremely productive.”

However, some office setups have seen organizations remove dedicated desks and workstations to be replaced by shared spaces and hoteling.  

“But have the appropriate changes been made to equipment to allow for that?” she asked. “Do hoteling desks have external monitors, do they have external video cameras or are there headsets available?”

IT solutions for a more effective hybrid work experience

The survey reveals that having reliable network performance and speeds at home and at the office is an influencing factor and makes it easier to transfer work between the two locations, according to 40 percent of respondents who said they have difficulty making the switch.

A total of 30 percent said having the same IT setup at home and in the office would be an influential factor and make it easier to transfer between the two, 33 percent said a dedicated computer at home and the office and 29 percent say having a reliable videoconferencing service would be influential.

“Making sure the experience is the same – moving from a home setup into the office and vice-versa – is essential,” Dhaliwal says. “Having the right videoconferencing solutions is of great significance, as the experiences we encounter while working remotely or even within the office environment may not always entirely replicate in-person interactions.”

Another aspect to consider is giving easy access to the applications that end users need, she says. By way of example, Dhaliwal recalled a time when, while driving to her office to be a part of a team presentation, she was stuck in traffic.  

“I ended up in traffic for two and a half hours,” she recalls. “I had to get off the highway, go into a fast-food restaurant and present from there. Fortunately, I had everything I needed, including the necessary hardware equipment and remote access to the software and applications required to do my presentation.”

Look to Poly to support your hybrid working environment

Poly specializes in powering the ability to work from anywhere – creating equity between those in the room and those who aren’t. Whether in an office setting, a remote hub or your home office, Poly and CDW can help you address your organization's unique requirements.

Poly provides a full line of products to support remote workers and create digital workspaces that help employees be productive and engaged. These include headset, video, voice and audioconferencing solutions, plus desk phones, analytics software and services.