Surveys show that the war over hybrid, remote, and office-based work continues. It is a conflict that about two-thirds of current remote and hybrid workers are willing to quit over. And the number of employees working remotely or in hybrid form is increasing.
The quit rate continues to accelerate.
Remote work uncovered but didn’t create problems.
Before Covid and the instant transition to remote work, the US had faced a labor shortage for years. The workforce also suffered from poor engagement, high stress, employee-employer mistrust, crowded unproductive office space, and poor cultural connection. The pandemic uncovered these multiple issues. But too few companies are paying attention to them. Remote work is the lightening rod they are focused on. Fixing the underlying issues will require re-examining the work experience and the future of work for the rest of the decade.
But too few companies are paying attention to these issues or trying to solve them.
For solutions to be successful, companies need to address the full experience of work.
Every year Global Workplace Analytics and OWL Labs’ release their State of Remote Work Report 2022. With this year’s report, they note the following:
Overnight shift to remote work and subsequent return-to-office transition didn’t create the problems organizations are struggling with right now, it revealed them—talent shortages, poor engagement, high stress, ineffective and underutilized space, poor productivity, employee-employer mistrust, cultural disconnection, and more. These problems won’t be solved by simply adding flexibility to where and when people work. That’s a step in the right direction, but the who, what, why, where, and how of work are evolving too. For a solution to be successful, it needs to address the full experience of work.
I highly recommend downloading this report. Kate Lister, the President of Global Workforce Analytics and a co-author of this report, is an expert on remote and hybrid working and is frequently quoted by business publications.
In case you don’t have access to the report, let me highlight the top findings and also provide insights from other currently released studies to provide a fuller perspective on these issues. At the end, I will give you a free link to figure out the who, what, why, where, and how of work to help your organization improve your worker retention and motivation and profitable growth.
1- Work Style Preferences. The number of workers choosing to work remotely in 2022 increased by 24 percent since 2021. And those choosing hybrid work went up by 16 percent. Interest for in-office work, however, dropped by 24 percent. Note, while the Workforce Analytics and Owl Labs survey shows workers want more remote and hybrid work, others studies in 2022 show that 50 percent of companies want workers to return to the office five days a week. It is like two ships passing in the night.
Companies are making progress in getting employees to return to the workplace. Forbes reports that in the first week following Labor Day, office usage in 10 major metro areas neared 50% of 2020’s pre-pandemic attendance, reports Kastle Systems, a key-card property management company that tracks entries into office buildings. There were more workers in the office during the fall than there have been since the pandemic started. However, in-office attendance is still lower than before the virus outbreak. But the disconnect between what employees and employers want from work continues.
2- Turnover. Almost one in three workers surveyed changed jobs within the past year. As well, an additional nine percent are looking for their next role. According to Zippia, in 2021, some 47 million employees decided to up-sticks and leave. It’s a trend that has continued well into this year, where every month a staggering 4 million people have left their employers. On average, 4 million Americans are quitting their jobs each month in 2022, and 40 percent are thinking about leaving their jobs within the next three to six months.
3 -Flexible working drives turnover. If the ability to work from home was taken away, 66 percent of workers would immediately start looking for a job that offered flexibility, and 39 percent would simply quit. Job seekers also want remote or hybrid work at essentially the same percentages. A recently released iCIMS Workforce Report shows the importance of offering the ability to work from home among job seekers. ICIMS found that 63 percent of job seekers say a top factor in their decision to accept a job offer is whether the job is remote, hybrid or in-person.
4- Employer Size. Smaller companies are more likely to want workers to return to in-person work. Some 41 percent of small companies (10 to 50 employees) are requiring employees to return to the office compared to only 27 percent of enterprises (employers with 10k or more employees).
5- Technology. Only one-third of employers have upgraded their video meeting technology since the start of the pandemic. This is a lost opportunity because younger workers want helpful and relevant technology that improves work experience.
6- Money Saved. Hybrid workers save $19.11 each day when working from home rather than at the office.
7- Stress. Almost half (45 percent) of workers say their level of work-related stress has increased somewhat or substantially in the past year. This is important because worker stress often caused by repeated unrealistic expectations at work and poor work-life balance leads to reduced productivity. Stressed employees exhibit 60 percent higher absenteeism and are significantly less effective when they’re at work. Researchers claim that presenteeism—when employees come to work suffering from conditions that cause them to underperform—can cut an employee’s productivity by up to 77 percent. While employees take, on average, four sick days per year, research suggests that time lost while on the job—by being present but not working productivity—results in a loss of 58 days per employee per year. However, we don’t know how much is directly attributable to stress.
8- Benefits Employees Prefer. When it comes to benefits, employees feel the following are most important. Note: good technology is third on the list:
- Compensation at 79 percent.
- Health insurance at 75 percent.
- Good technology at 66 percent.
- Flexible location at 65 percent.
- Career opportunities at 63 percent.
- Flexible hours at 59 percent.
- Professional development at 59 percent.
- Having a dedicated desk at 53 percent.
- Office perks at 40 percent.
About the State of Work Report 2022.
In this 6th annual State of Remote Work Report, a collaboration between Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics, researchers surveyed more than 2,300 full-time workers in the U.S. to learn their preferences, requirements, concerns, and more – when it comes to all-things work: in-office, remote and hybrid.
If you are interested in how to resolve the where, what, when, and how of remote, hybrid, and in-office work, I suggest you read this article and download this complementary tool to get you started. You will love the improved employee morale and productivity — and how this will help improve your organization’s financial performance.
Remote work uncovered but didn’t create problems. The issue isn’t as easy and simple as deciding whether to call all employees into the office or to allow them to continue working remotely. There is a deeper crisis relating to different expectations about the future of work.
Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and managing partner of InnovationOne. He works with organizations to transform HR and recruiting, implement remote work, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and innovation cultures. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Hack Recruiting: the Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at www.VictorHRConsultant.com.