For nearly a decade, at Poly we’ve been studying workplace personas and how to match workstyles and employee behaviors to devices and technologies so that organizations can increase productivity. We have conducted proprietary research into workplace personas to create archetypes based on the behavioral traits found in typical enterprise business employees.

We refresh the research every few years, and when we embarked on the study in 2020 with our consultants, we marveled at how quickly the world was changing as a result of the pandemic.

In the past versions of our study, we’ve observed an emerging trend that as communication platforms and devices proliferate, people are increasingly able to work from different locations. The shift was incremental – predictable, even. However, with our latest research, we saw a dramatic shift in the global enterprise workforce to working from home.

We couldn’t help but wonder: What impact will this have on companies in the short term? And, perhaps more importantly, how will this impact the way we work in the future?

Empathy Leads the Way

We talked about delaying the research report until after the pandemic, but as I was reflecting on the seven workstyle personas, I was overcome with a wave of empathy.

I have spent the past decade trying to better understand these personas so that I can help share their stories and make life better for enterprise workers. And although each of these personas is a composite, they very accurately represent real people in our lives.

I thought about the Office Communicator –  we call her “Olivia” – who represents people that spend most of their time in the office… and they’re only 1% likely to use video. She must be feeling incredibly distraught over having to lower the boundary between work and home life.

I thought about ‘Ray’ the Road Warrior – who represents our colleagues who spend 50% of their time traveling. Having his wings clipped like this probably makes him feel anxious to get back out in the field to see customers and partners in person.

The decision became clear – we cannot wait. We have to do the research now. Given our historical view of workstyles, we are in a unique position to understand the current impact of the pandemic, something that will help our customers plan.

Our Latest Research Findings

This month (January 2021), we completed our latest round of personas research. The study surveyed more than 5,000 enterprise workers across eight different countries. While these findings reveal perspectives at a unique point-in-time – during a global pandemic – we believe the behavior shifts will have a long-term impact. In our latest survey, we asked about pre-COVID-19 work behaviors as well as the impacts COVID-19 is having on the way people work now, and what they anticipate for the future (post-pandemic).

Here are a few things we learned …

1. Work location will be more flexible in the future: The workforce was already starting to work more flexibly pre-COVID (compared to our 2017 research), and users expect the flexibility to continue post-COVID.

Poly Personas Research 2021

2. Home is the new office for many, but not everyone has a dedicated space to work or the right set of technology to be their most productive at home.

3. COVID-19 has led to a rapid growth of conference calls and video meetings. 42% of global workstyles reported daily use of video pre-COVID. That number jumped to 63% during COVID. Some personas are still reluctant to use conferencing technology – we know it isn’t a preferred channel for all workstyles – but the research shows that this is an opportunity for companies to embrace personal video technology in addition to video-enabled meeting rooms.

Poly Personas Research 2021

There’s no doubt about it: workstyles are transforming as hybrid work environments become more prevalent. Work is no longer a place and I believe the best way to understand the future of work is to understand the people who perform it. And without a doubt, those who pay attention to this research will have a more productive workforce for years to come. Make sure you’ve identified personas within your business – it is critical to ensure everyone has the correct tools and devices to maximize efficiency and productivity. For more information on how you can get to know your workplace personas, request a consultation with Poly.

For more insights from our latest personas research, join the UC Summit event where I will be presenting (registration is free; disclosure: Poly is an event sponsor). The video interview is accessible to all event attendees starting on January 25, 2021.

In the meantime, I have a message for the workforce – for the Olivias, the Rays, and all other personas, we see you and we are going to do our best to make sure your companies see you, too.