Cisco unveiled its first Hybrid Work Index (HWI) based on millions of aggregated and anonymous customer datapoints. The Index, which will be updated quarterly, examines how people’s habits and technology interactions have permanently reshaped work a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings show hybrid workers expect greater flexibility, accessibility and security, while businesses grapple with meeting these increased technology demands.
“We’re truly at a unique time, with the ability to redefine work,” said Chuck Robbins, Chair and CEO, Cisco. “All employees around the world want a workplace that enables them to do their best, and it is our responsibility as business leaders to learn how best to support and enable our employees, however and wherever they work.”
Cisco has the unique ability to glean insights from a wide range of tools enabling hybrid work across networks, endpoints and applications from millions of customers globally. This set of anonymized and aggregated data combined with customer surveys provide the unique insights powering the HWI. Several key themes have emerged from the HWI that can help business leaders understand the approach they need to take to make hybrid work a long-term success:
Key findings for HR and People Leaders
- People want choice and the hybrid workplace increases employee loyalty: 64% agree that the ability to work remotely instead of coming into an office directly affects whether they stay or leave a job. However, there is also uncertainty whether employers will realize the potential of hybrid work: only 47% think that their company will allow working from anywhere vs. in-office over the next 6-12 months.
- Flexibility and Wellness are key drivers for hybrid work: An overwhelming majority of respondents agree that personal health and wellness, along with flexible work arrangements, are non-negotiables as we move into the future of hybrid work.
- Hybrid work drives a surge in on-the-go meetings: Pre-pandemic, people used mobile devices 9% of the time to connect to their meetings. In a hybrid work world, this number tripled and is now at 27%.
- Meetings abound, but not everyone “participates” the same way: More than 61 million meetings take place globally every month via Cisco Webex. And in any one of them, only 48% of participants are likely to speak. In addition, 98% of meetings have at least 1 person joining remotely – increasing the need for inclusion and engagement of remote participants, so that they feel equal to their peers on site.
- Hybrid Work means increased access to diverse talent: 82% of survey respondents agree that access to connectivity is critical to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of ensuring everyone has equal access to jobs, education, and healthcare opportunities. Increased connectivity access will empower people to work for any company in the world and companies to source the best talent regardless of location.
- AI is at the center of the future of work: Over 200% growth in usage of AI capabilities from July through September 2021 points toward people’s desire for improved meeting engagement. This includes meeting features like noise reduction, automatic translation and transcriptions, polling, and gesture recognition – making it easier for people to engage in conversation, whether they’re virtual or in-room.
Key findings for Technology Leaders
- Home networks are now one of the most critical parts of the enterprise network: 2x faster growth in teleworker devices compared to small and medium business routers since pandemic started.
- Heightened threats underscore the importance of user-centric security: During the pandemic, malicious remote access attempts grew 2.4 times. In September 2021, the hybrid workforce was targeted with more than 100 million email threats daily. This underscores the importance of security infrastructures that keep work accessible to the right users and out of reach of fraudulent actors.
- Enterprises view collaboration apps as the most critical application type for hybrid work success: Collaboration apps are now the #1 most monitored application type globally. Collaboration apps have surpassed secure access and productivity application monitoring, which were more heavily monitored at the onset of the pandemic and move to work-from-home.
- Cloud provider networks demonstrate more stability than Internet Service Providers (ISP): From January 2020 to August 2021, cloud provider networks accounted for just 5% of outage incident volume. ISP networks accounted for the remaining 95% of outage incidents.
- Onsite work is coming back: Devices connecting to office-based Wi-Fi networks increased 61% in comparison to six months ago. This growth is led by the higher education, professional services and hospitality industries.
Cisco’s Global Hybrid Work Index is the only report of its kind, looking across people, technology and business to identify emerging global work trends. It derives insights from millions of aggregated and anonymized customer data points from Cisco’s collaboration (Webex), networking (Meraki), internet visibility (ThousandEyes) and security (Talos, Duo, Umbrella) platforms. Third-party research surveying over 39,000 respondents across 34 countries, including CIOs, IT decision makers and employees, supplements the research alongside Cisco’s own employee data.