Remote Work Is Here to Stay. But How Much?
As companies that went remote begin to reopen, employers are beginning to wonder “How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm” now that workers have enjoyed the benefits of flexible hours and no commuting.
The simple answer is, they’re not. Every survey done on the subject – most recently by Envoy and PwC – found workers are not eager to return to a 5 day a week in-office schedule. The Envoy survey, in fact, found 3-in-10 workers were “very likely” or “definitely would” go looking for another job if they had to return to an office full-time.
We may never find out if they actually do since the surveys tell us the majority of companies are planning to offer hybrid work schedules. 70% of employers told PwC researchers they’ll offer at least some form of limited in-office schedule. Only 17% said it will be “back to the office as soon as feasible.”
With workers and employers for the most part agreeing that workplace flexibility is here to stay, it will be up to human resources professionals to find the balance between what workers as a group and individually want and what managers and executives think is best.
“There is a disconnect between U.S. executives and employees over how many days workers will be in the office when they do return,” an article on the SHRM website points out.
For executives in the PwC survey, the concern is how to maintain a company culture if too many people work remotely too often. 68% said that to keep a strong culture workers needed to be in the office at least 3 days a week.
However, 55% of employees in the PwC survey said they wanted to work remotely at least 3 days a week; 29% said they never want to go into the office.
That tracks with what workers have been telling researchers for months. A survey last summer said 70% of the surveyed workers would be less happy if they were forced to give up working remotely entirely. Half would look for another job that gave them that flexibility. In February, CHG Healthcare reported that 54% of workers in its survey want a hybrid schedule.
With that powerful worker sentiment in mind, the Society for Human Resource Management provided a blueprint of issues for HR professionals to consider in formulating a hybrid work plan. Weigh the following factors, says the SHRM article:
- The nature of the employees' work and the specific jobs they perform – Some jobs can only be done onsite. Team collaboration is also best done in person.
- Personality – Not everyone wants to work remotely and some don’t function as well outside the office.
- Employee tenure or experience level – New hires and those new to a job need to be in the office to learn the ropes and, for the new employees, the culture.
- Age – In surveys, the youngest workers most want to be in an office. “Their social life often is intertwined with work,” SHRM says.
- Timing – Vaccinations, school reopenings, childcare, and similar matters need to be factored into when employees return to at least some in-office schedule.