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Designing the workplace of the future

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Has your company provided employees with the right digital tools to support remote or hybrid work? Learn about how workplace trends are affecting the design and manufacturing industries through Autodesk’s 2023 State of Design and Make survey.


Leaders and experts across the design and manufacturing industry are adapting to a swiftly accelerating rate of change. The drivers of these changes include the rapid digitization of processes, evolving workforce expectations, and a growing desire for more-sustainable operations and products (from customers and employees). Results from Autodesk’s 2023 State of Design and Make survey show that organizations are aligning investments to meet these changes over the next three years, even as most recognize that they’re operating in an era of increased uncertainty.

One of the most impactful changes the design and manufacturing industries are facing is a shift in work location expectations. As workforce preferences shift towards remote or hybrid work arrangements, it’s imperative that companies that find ways to make these new arrangements succeed. This is especially true for companies under the design and manufacturing umbrella as they depend upon close employee collaboration throughout the product development process.

Remote-work-AutodeskNot going back: Hybrid work arrangements are here to stay

At least half of the 2,500+ leaders surveyed from the design and manufacturing, media and entertainment and architecture, engineering, construction, and operations industries said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how their companies work day-to-day and how they manage their workforce. The magnitude of the change is hard to overstate: 72% of respondents feel the workforce has evolved more in the past three years than it in the previous 25.

Unsurprisingly, remote work has been the most significant area of increased investment throughout the past three years. More unforeseen is that as the pandemic wanes, remote work remains a major area of investment in the short term. From 2020 through 2022, 76% of respondents increased remote work investments, and the majority will continue to invest in remote work in the near term. In addition, 63% to 71% of companies plan on increasing investment in collaboration tools from 2023 to 2025.

The reason for the ongoing investment seems clear: A significant shift in employee sentiment, one that appears permanent. Having weathered the pandemic working from home using a range of communication devices and collaboration solutions, employees want to continue these flexible work arrangements, which empower them to manage work life balance more effectively. For some employees, it’s even a line in the sand. Another global survey of employees across industries found that 64% had already considered, or would consider, looking for a new job if their employers wanted them back in the office full time.

Our survey respondents confirmed this shift and its impact on organizations. “You have to offer a flexible working environment,” says Jeremy Smith, CTO of Jellyfish Pictures, a visual effects company. “If people need to pick up their kids, or whatever else, it’s important to give them that flexibility. It helps build loyalty when you’re able to meet your employees in the middle.” For mothers, the need for flexible arrangements is particularly acute. A 2023 Deloitte analysis found that lack of flexible working hours is one of the top three reasons women left their employers in the 2021–2022 period, and remains the top reason cited by women who are looking to leave their jobs.[1]

Investing in tools that support hybrid work

As people increasingly work in untraditional spaces, on asynchronous schedules, so too does the need increase for platforms and technology that support seamless collaboration and employee and team communication. For many workers, the pandemic delivered a crash how-to course on basic tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack. Employees in the design and make industries use these tools as well, but they also rely on point solutions that have features and functionality specific to their professions, from design to engineering.

The abilities to efficiently prototype and view revisions in real-time are key in the design and make industries and require professional solutions. In fact, 79 % of Autodesk’s survey respondents said that the future growth of their company will depend upon digital tools. Consequently, the question for team decision makers is this: Have you provided employees with the right digital tools to support remote or hybrid work? Are the solutions that employees use in the office sufficiently mobile and extensible when they’re working from home.

Given the data requirements and complexity of design and manufacturing solutions, and considering how rapidly technology evolves, cloud-based solutions that can store large data projects and remain accessible anytime, anywhere, provide workers with the flexibility they need to create and collaborate.

Autodesk Fusion 360 is the only integrated, cloud-based, CAD, CAM, CAE, PCB, collaboration and data management platform for product design and manufacturing professionals. It empowers teams to connect and communicate in real-time and manage projects with team members around the world. And because it’s cloud-based, when a team member makes a design update, it becomes available to all team members in real time, avoiding version control issues while maintaining team productivity.

Leaders in design and make industries are committed to offering flexible work arrangements—they benefit employees and the organization and, by extension, customers. Now, they must provide employees with the tools they need to do their best work, wherever that work gets done.

Read the full 2023 State of Design and Make survey by Autodesk here. Are you ready to access the benefits of a truly integrated design and manufacturing solution? Try Fusion 360 here.


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