Several studies conducted in 2021 show that many employees prefer to work in a hybrid arrangement with only two to three days spent in the office and the rest of the week spent working remotely from home or wherever they choose. They also want the flexibility of determining when they will be at the office and when they will work remotely. There is also a certain portion of employees who want to work in the office full-time.
The Future of Work Study 2021 of Accenture, published in April, shows that 83 percent of employees worldwide want a hybrid work arrangement. The 2021 Work Trend Index of Microsoft also shows that global employees want a hybrid experience, with more than 70 percent wanting to have flexible options for remote work and more than 65 percent seeking more face-to-face time with teammates.
The August 2021 Return to Work Study of Medallia shows that 96 percent of American employees want a hybrid work arrangement. Among them, 36 percent want to be at the office two days a week, 32 percent prefer three days a week, 12 percent prefer one day a week, 10 percent prefer four days a week, and six percent prefer to go to the office less often than one day a week.
The State of Remote Work in 2021 survey by GoodHire, published in October, shows that 74 percent of American employees want to work in the office for a maximum of just two days a week to stay in their job while 32 percent want to return to work in the office.
The 5th Annual State of Remote Work report, a collaboration between Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) that collected data in September 2021, shows that 73 percent of employees have already returned to the office for a minimum of one day per week. Among them, 78 percent stated that they feel more involved when they are in the office. The study also found that 29 percent of employees want to be in the office full-time and 27 percent want to work in a hybrid arrangement.
A survey by IWG cited by Forbes in September 2021 shows that after the pandemic, 74 percent of employees whose work can be done remotely want to be in the office for at least one day every week, while 70 percent want to be in the office two to three days a week.
Advantages of Days in the Office
Employees who do not want to completely stop going to the office acknowledge the benefits of being with colleagues in person some of the time. They also acknowledge that working from home full-time has its disadvantages.
One of the downsides of working from home is having to juggle work tasks with household chores and childcare. Because of this, a small percentage, or 12 percent said they work fewer hours at home compared to when they are at the office. Multitasking also causes more stress.
On the other extreme, 55 percent of employees working from home full-time said that they spend longer hours working, extending work time by more than two hours. They find it difficult to disconnect from work and this leads to burnout.
Global employees working from home are experiencing digital overload, resulting in a feeling of being overworked for 54 percent and exhaustion for 39 percent. Microsoft reports that from February 2020 to February 2021, online meetings increased more than twice over, with each one lasting 10 minutes longer reaching 45 minutes. Chats have increased by 45 percent a week, with a 42 percent increase in work chats occurring after work hours. Many of the meetings and calls are unscheduled and unstructured.
According to the report from Owl Labs, 70 percent of employees working remotely find it hard to engage in discussions on video calls and 72 percent find it hard to identify each speaker. Furthermore, 63 percent are not able to see the faces of people in the call. When there is a shared whiteboard, 62 percent are unable to see it. All these are hindrances to a fruitful collaboration.
Having some days working at the office will cut down on the digital overload and give employees a chance to be away from home tasks. It also gives them the chance to engage with co-workers and managers in person and collaborate better, as well as cement relationships.
Preparing the Office Space
Some employees miss the benefits offered by certain companies, such as free meals and snacks. Many miss having conversations by the coffee machine or the pantry. With employees coming back for hybrid work arrangements, companies need to ensure that pantries are well-stocked again. For safety during the pandemic, appliances such as the ice dispenser must be replaced with a touch-free model like that of Scotsman. This is also convenient because Scotsman ice maker parts are readily available.
Companies bear the responsibility of preparing a safe workspace for employees returning to the office. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has guidelines for keeping the workplace safe from Covid-19. These include improving air ventilation and keeping the environment clean and disinfected. It also means providing all means to have employees fully vaccinated.
The pandemic has completely upended the workplace scenario. Companies must adapt if they want to retain their best talents. Employee loyalty is very important especially at this time when millions have resigned from their jobs.