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New Qualtrics Study Reveals What Experiences Employees and Customers Want in the Future of Work

Last updated:  April 12, 2021

More than 50% of workers believe they have been more productive working remotely, and 35% of employees actually feel more connected with co-workers than they did before the pandemic 

Successful companies are putting experience transformation at the center of their return to work strategies by listening, understanding, and then acting on what their customers and employees want

PROVO, UT and SEATTLE, April 12, 2021 — New research released today from Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM), the world’s No. 1 Experience Management (XM) Platform and creator of the XM category, reveals what employees and customers want their experiences to look like in the future of work. 

Qualtrics’ new study from the XM Institute, “The Future of Work in 2021: Perspectives on the Next Normal,” finds that workforce productivity is up, employees feel more connected to each other than before the pandemic, and future workplace trends are being driven by younger generations. For consumers, improved experiences like telehealth appointments, outdoor seating at restaurants, curbside pick-up, and virtual fitness classes, are not only preferred but will be the expectation in the new normal. 

This study, which examined the experiences and feelings of more than 4,000 workers around the world, illustrates that work preferences are continually shifting and the future of work will look different for everyone. That’s why it is critical for companies to understand how their customers and employees are thinking and feeling, and then use that feedback to thoughtfully design their future experiences.  

Key Takeaways from Qualtrics Study: 

  • Productivity has increased with remote work: The majority of managers (55%) said their direct reports have been more productive working remotely, with 51% of employees agreeing they have been more productive themselves. The top reasons for improved productivity were flexible schedules, no commuting time, and the ability to focus on work with fewer interruptions.
  • Feeling connected is different for all employees: While 35% of employees say they feel more connected with their coworkers than before the pandemic, if you break down the numbers, men are 44% more likely than women to feel more connected since the pandemic began. When looking across workers of different races, 43% of Black workers felt more connected since the pandemic began, compared to 27% among white workers.
  • Individual contributors want to go back to office more than managers: While 73% of all employees say they want to work remotely at least 1-2 days a week, managers and above are 20% more likely than individual contributors to want to have a hybrid system.
  • Gen Z is setting the agenda for the future of work: Gen Z adjusted to the pandemic better than any other generation with almost 50% claiming that their personal well-being has improved since pre-COVID. Additionally, Millennials and Gen Z are over 3 times as likely as Baby Boomers to have felt more connected to their coworkers since the pandemic began.
  • Remote work is now a make or break recruitment decision: Over half of respondents (53%) said a long term remote work policy would make them consider staying at their company longer. In fact, 10% said they would probably quit their job if they were forced back into the office full time. When looking for a new role, 80% said it was important their employment afforded them the opportunity to live anywhere.
  • Improved experiences for customers are here to stay: New experiences were created and improved during the pandemic that people want to continue post pandemic including outdoor seating for restaurants, curbside grocery pick up, and pre-ordered shopping. According to customers, the industries that delivered a better experience during the pandemic were healthcare (37%), retail (21%), and food services (21%). 

“Right now, every company is undergoing an experience transformation. There is no one-size fits all approach. From hybrid work environments, to online delivery and curbside pickups, employees and customers have more options than ever,” said Julia Anas, Chief People Officer, Qualtrics. “As companies work to rewrite their playbooks, those who take the time to understand and act on how people think and feel will be empowered to make the right decisions, at the right time, in the right way, and as a result will deliver differentiated experiences.”  

The Power of Qualtrics XM Platform

Companies that put people at the center of their return to work strategies will be able to deliver better experiences and keep a competitive advantage in the future of work. For example, CEOs who understand that individual contributors want to be in the office more than managers, can use that feedback to create a return to work strategy that fits best for their company. Organizations around the world use the Qualtrics XM Platform™, to obtain these types of insights by listening, understanding, and taking decisive actions that improve the everyday experiences of customers and employees. 

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