Current hybrid work statistics seem to be pointing towards a more common hybrid working model. However, here is the critical question to ask: is this going to be the case in the long term? Is the future of work hybrid?
As we come out of lockdowns and the pandemic is more widely accepted as likely to stay longer than expected, many businesses are returning to the office. However, many companies also believe that sticking to a hybrid structure is exactly what their business needs and that they will continue to work that way.
The great thing about the pandemic is that it forced businesses into a pressure cooker environment where they were forced to try methods of working, which they perhaps wouldn’t have tried at all in the past. Many businesses who would have claimed that remote working didn’t work for them in the past actually realised by force that more of their work than they thought could be performed remotely.
As a result of this pressure-cooker environment, employees have had their eyes opened to the potential of a future workplace where they have more flexibility. This has been especially the case in busy city environments, which are high-stress environments. Employees have managed to avoid lengthy commutes and control their work patterns to suit themselves more.
However, to what extent will this all continue? What are the hybrid work statistics and the future of work? Is hybrid working set in stone to be the future archetype for work?
Do People Want Hybrid Work?
As we know, people were forced into hybrid work initially, whether they liked it or not. The transition was sudden and somewhat jarring, and poorly planned. However, working from home has proven to be incredibly popular. But what are the hybrid work statistics today?
FlexJobs surveyed more than 2,100 people who were working remotely during the pandemic, and 58% of workers said they would “absolutely” look for a new job if they couldn’t continue to work remotely in their current role.
An additional 31% responded with not knowing what they would do, and only a small 11% stated that they viewed remote working as “not a big deal”. 33% from the same survey said they would like to continue in a hybrid working setup. While the most glaringly important stat is that only 2% of respondents stated that they would like to return to the office full time.
So, based on the above, the question doesn’t seem to be around returning to the office anymore. The two core popular opinions are either work from home full time or work in a hybrid setup. The people who want to work from the office solely are in the severe minority.
Regardless of whether the pandemic has slowed in many areas of the world, it is certainly still a concern. Another study performed by FlexJobs found that 49% of individuals were concerned about exposure and infection, and 46% of respondents said this was directly tied to a return to the office.
Why is it such a popular thought? A survey from Buffer cited that 32% of respondents believe the added flexibility for their schedule is the top benefit for working from home. Another 22% cites the removal of a commute as their number one reason. Hybrid Work Statistics are proving that people want options and opportunities to control how they work.
Does Hybrid Work Impact Professions?
There is a pretty common belief or concern that working in a hybrid or completely remote setup may hinder your career projection going forward. Will those who are returning to the office be in a better position than you, even if their work is inferior? What are the hybrid work statistics that support this belief?
39% of people in a Robert Half study said they were concerned that the relationships they have with their co-workers may suffer in a remote setup: with 21% believing that they may not have as many opportunities for their career if they were to work remotely, or in a hybrid model.
What is the reason for this? It is primarily down to two things—exposure to people and opinions in the media. In specific industries, the top dogs have been talking about how vital working from the office is and how people who choose to work from home won’t be doing good things for their career.
Hear this enough times, and you are going to start believing it. The reality is that there will always be “hybrid-sceptics”. These are generally people who have worked in an office 15 hours a day for the last 40 years of their life. It is what they know and what they think everyone else should experience.
The other side of the coin is the exposure to your colleagues and your superiors. There is validity in saying that you may be less exposed to people if working remotely. People may not see or appreciate the work you do quite as much. However, this is only if you continue to work in the same way as when you worked from the office.
The key to remote working is that both employers and employees must adapt their way of working to suit a remote environment work. As an employee you need to show your employers your progress, what you’re working on, and how well you’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with showing off in this scenario! And you need to put your work in front of people to shine. When doing this, the impact of a lack of exposure to people in person is made redundant.
Social/Personal Impacts of Hybrid Work
Many who have worked remotely during the pandemic have found that it has majorly impacted their mental health. There have been struggles with boundaries and work-life balance.
In a study by Buffer, they found respondents to have the following views from their remote lifestyle:
- 27% found it difficult to unplug
- 16% had trouble collaborating
- 16% reported feeling lonely
- 15% had problems with distractions at home
- 12% had trouble staying motivated
The key takeaway from the impact of the pandemic is that employers need to be flexible. There are two insights here. Firstly, it is essential to note that not everybody suits a hybrid lifestyle at its core, and that is okay. If someone wants to work remotely, fine. But equally, if working remotely doesn’t suit someone, then don’t force them to do it either.
The second insight is that employees often find issues with remote/hybrid working when they maintain the same attitude towards working as they did when they commuted and worked in an office.
The reality is, we all need to re-programme how we approach work. Whether that be creating a more suitable setup at home or talking to your wife and kids to make sure it is important that they do not distract you.
Are Employers Ready for a Permanent Change?
A survey by McKinsey found that hybrid work will most likely become the standard approach to working for many businesses. 90% of employers that they interviewed said that they would allow some form of hybrid working going into the future.
Interestingly, they also found that most businesses found that the productivity in their work has actually increased, both from an individual and team level. This has been cited as potentially being related to an increase in focus, energy and a rise in satisfaction.
However, it was also noted that not every business has seen benefits; a third of business owners stated that productivity has not changed, and 10% of companies believe that individual productivity has declined during the pandemic.
There is also a correlation between individual and team productivity. C-Suite executives who state individual productivity as being on the rise are five times more likely to report that the productivity of their entire teams is also on the rise.
Interestingly, outside the domain of employee productivity, McKinsey also found that most executives found that customer satisfaction had also gone up due to the pandemic and hybrid working. Perhaps the reduction in stress levels and work flexibility for everyone was spilling over into their personal lives, and therefore their satisfaction for other areas of their lives too?
The Future is Hybrid; The Future is Now
It is clear from these surveys that hybrid working should be, and is, here to stay. Many business owners think it is excellent, and they are the ‘gatekeepers’ to whether hybrid working can proceed. It doesn’t matter how much employees love it if the decision-makers think it is a bad idea.
Everyone is looking forward to getting back to normal after the pandemic is over, but in a post-pandemic world, the reality is that the working environment will likely never look the same again. The new normal is most likely to include a majority of hybrid working across the board. We may even see significant retention of fully remote working in specific industries (this is likely within tech, for example).
What about you? Have you enjoyed remote/hybrid working, or do you look forward to getting back to the office full time? If your employer were to move back to a standard way of working from the office, would this lead you to look for a new role? We would be interested to hear your thoughts.