- Owls Labs recently released its fifth annual State of Remote Work report in collaboration with Global Workplace Analytics.
- The report drew attention to employee work arrangement preferences and expectations, as well as the roadblocks these transitions come with.
- The report found that there appears to be a near-even split between preferred workplace arrangements.
Video conferencing solutions firm Owls Labs recently released its fifth annual State of Remote Work report in collaboration with Global Workplace Analytics, which drew attention to employee work arrangement preferences and expectations, as well as the roadblocks these transitions come with.
Of the 2,050 full-time U.S. employees who responded to the survey, 73% have returned to the office, with 25% of those having returned in just the past month.
Notably, 78% said that being in the office gives them a better sense of inclusion in the workplace.
There also appears to be a near-even split between preferred workplace arrangements: 34% of respondents said they preferred full-time remote work, 29% preferred full-time in-person work, and 27% preferred coming into the office between one and four days every week.
What this highlights is that society is at a collective crossroads and now is the time to enhance communication channels between employees and employers.
The past two years have provided workers with a first-time look into what a remote or hybrid workplace could look like, but the driving force behind these new policies have complicated future business plans.
The Remote Work Transition Has Been Complicated
Shifting to remote and hybrid arrangements was always the expectation among analysts and experts, but the pandemic’s acceleration of this process has muddied how businesses adopted the transition.
Because the pandemic caused schools to shut down and caregiving facilities to limit their reach, 63% of respondents said they needed to provide care to children or a dependent during the pandemic.
While bearing multiple responsibilities under one roof could seem distracting, 90% still said they maintained the same productivity level or even higher when working from home.
Despite this number, over one-third of leaders still remained skeptical about hybrid and remote working.
More specifically, 36% of managers said they were concerned about employee productivity and 36% were worried about decreased focus.
But the data just doesn’t seem to support these concerns.
In fact, 55% said they worked more hours at home, so perhaps the real worry is the increased risk of burnout, which has been linked to long work hours and lack of resources.
Even more concerning is that only 11% of managers stated being worried about employees experiencing burnout.
Meeting the Expectations of Employees
The report touches on the differences between employer and employee expectations, finding that the variation in what these two parties want from the workplace could throw a wrench in business operations.
For instance, take the idea of coming back to the office.
While 39% of employers are requiring their workers to return to the office full-time post-pandemic, about 1 in 4 respondents said they would quit their job if they did not have remote working options in the future.
Employees aren’t bluffing, either.
Dissatisfaction has been the crux of labor shortages over the past year as workers leave their positions to seek employment that aligns more with their values and expectations of the workplace.
But, no, the office isn’t dead.
Workers want to come into the office for parts of the week to collaborate with their colleagues, but returning to pre-pandemic “normalcy” is doing a disservice to the hard lessons learned in the last two years.
Still, 42% respondents said they felt stressed about the uncertainty around their employer’s post-pandemic office policies.
Where’s the middle ground?
Seeking Balance amidst Turbulence
Identifying the best possible workplace arrangement is not linear.
There are several factors to consider when deciding what works best for both employees and the company.
For example, 27% of workers said they relocated during the pandemic to accommodate the needs of their personal lives, whether that be caregiving responsibilities or financial restrictions.
This indicates a need for more flexibility and agility in their work schedule.
Additionally, the report also highlighted ongoing issues with current virtual meetings, such as:
- 72% unable to tell who is speaking
- 70% finding it difficult to contribute to the conversation
- 67% feeling disengaged
- 63% missing visual cues
- 62% unable to see the presentation
Knowing this, it’s up to business leaders to accept what real challenges are facing their employees, address them accordingly, or risk losing top talent.
Among those who changed jobs during the pandemic or are seeking new positions, 90% said they wanted more career opportunities, while 88% said they sought a better work-life balance and better compensation.
The pandemic single-handedly disrupted everyday business operations, and navigating around that is no easy feat.
However, among the changes that have occurred in the last few years has been the shifting dynamic between employers and employees.
For once, employees are expressing what they want from the workplace, and now it would be wise for employers to listen.