Digital workplace survey says what technology employees want

By | 3 minute read | March 5, 2019

Every time a mobile device manufacturer throws a new release party, we’re reminded how much tech matters.

People want the latest devices, apps and other digital tools in their personal lives.

Results from a recent survey show the fever applies to digital workplace technology, too.

More than 200 enterprise workers in the United States and Canada responded to the digital workplace survey, sponsored by IBM. Topics ranged from where they prefer to work to how willing they are to let AI-powered agents act on their behalf.

Bottom line: Technology drives peoples’ choice of employers.

IT directors in North America: You may want to bookmark this one

“One aspect of the digital workplace is that it’s not a ‘place,’ it is wherever you are using the device you have in your hands at the time,” says Matthew Johnson, a senior technical staff member for IBM Services.

74% want choice of work location

Asked how much the ability to work from anywhere at any time influences who they want to work for: 29 percent say it’s very influential and 45 say it’s extremely influential.

The numbers trend slightly higher among large enterprises, where a full 50 percent say it’s extremely influential.

The findings also echo Gartner’s “Seven Insights Into Employee Workplace Preferences” report, which suggests, “globally, employees rate work-life balance policies like partial telecommuting as equally important as a 5% increase in current base pay.”

74% want tools to work anywhere

Asked how much influence having the right apps and tools to collaborate online with coworkers influences their choice of employers, 38 percent said it’s very influential, while 36 percent said it’s extremely influential.

No wonder the reported Slack IPO is generating such buzz.

Company devices, please

In terms of which devices employees want to use to collaborate with colleagues, 75 percent of respondents prefer it’s not theirs. They prefer having choice amongst a list of corporate liable devices.

That is to say, while bring-your-own-device policies now are common, the survey results suggests people prefer not to use their personal devices for work.

Consider it a commentary on work-life balance?

Willingness to use AI agents: a mixed bag

Survey respondents showed a general willingness to embrace AI at work—particularly when it comes to enhancing device health and security.

Less so for more personal matters.

Sixty percent say they’re willing to have AI agents advise them on HR related topics.

Seventy percent say they’re willing to have AI agents schedule meetings for them.

Seventy-three percent say they’re willing to have AI agents provide them IT service desk support.

Eight-three percent say they’re willing to have AI agents monitor the health of their work devices.

Meantime, a full 86 percent say they’re willing to have AI agents keep their work devices secure.

“In the workplace context, AI can help free the user from routine tasks so they can focus on higher value, revenue generating activities,” Johnson says.

Speaking of security…

IBM also asked respondents to describe their attitude toward cyber security when it comes to corporate network, devices and applications.

Red alert, IT directors: 48% of respondents who self-identify as line of business employees (rather than IT employees) marked, “I am aware of the risks of cyber security by primarily rely on my IT team to ensure security.”

No doubt they all completed annual cyber security training, right?

Good news: Only 1 percent said cyber security at work is not their responsibility.

About the IBM digital workplace survey

IBM obtained the survey feedback via a quantitative online survey fielded January of 2019 in the United States and Canada. A total of 204 total completions were recorded:

  • IT roles: 70 percent
  • Line of business roles: 30 percent
  • Large enterprise workers: 59 percent
  • Mid-market: 41 percent