Owl Labs, a company that built an AI-powered, 360-degree video conferencing solution, in collaboration with leading remote work research and consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics, released its sixth annual State of Remote Work report. Owl Labs surveyed more than 2,300 full-time workers across the United States to uncover the latest trends and perspectives around remote and hybrid work, from employee tracking software to the four-day week.
The report reveals what drives employees to quit (and “quiet quit”), the amounts of money that in-office workers shell out on everything from lunch to pet care, the decline of the open plan office and the rise of task-based hybrid work. It also explores burnout and stress, particularly about a possible recession.
The data show flexibility versus fully remote work is the new norm and what employees really want. Employers are delivering on staff members’ requests to work where they want by allowing a range of in-person and remote options, resulting in more inclusive hybrid environments.
“Workplace trends are continuing to evolve rapidly, even three years after the pandemic began,” said Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs. “Priorities and preferences have evolved for both workers and employers in the past year, bringing flexible and hybrid work to the forefront, even as some companies have continued to attempt a ‘return to the office’ push each fall since 2020. This new data shows that successful businesses need to present a range of hybrid options and technologies to keep workers happy and productive, as one-size-fits-all remote or in-person policies don’t allow everyone to do their best work. Listening to employees is crucial as companies iterate on their policies, practices and product solutions to align with team members’ needs.”
Some companies may be trying to lure workers back to the office again this fall, but employees want the flexibility they’ve become accustomed to over the past few years. The percentage of workers who want to be remote full-time increased by eight percentage points since last year to 42 percent, and 36 percent of employees now want to be hybrid, up five percentage points. The vast majority (86 percent) say remote work would make them happier and 62 percent feel more productive when working remotely. The call to come back to the office is loudest among smaller companies – 41 percent of small businesses (10 to 50 employees) are requiring people to return to the office, compared to 27 percent of enterprises (with more than10,000 employees).
The flexibility that employees want is slowly becoming the norm – workers reported that prior to the pandemic, only 8 percent of their companies had flexible policies whereas today, almost two-thirds (62 percent) say their company has implemented at least some degree of flexible work. Mid-sized companies (501 to 5,000 employees) are leading the way with 70 percent offering flexible work policies – more than any other size company. Some employers remain unprepared though, with only half (50 percent) training managers on how to lead remote and hybrid teams and 54 percent teaching workers how to hold effective and inclusive hybrid meetings.
Task-based hybrid work, where your location depends on the type of task you’re doing, gives people the freedom to choose their locations based on their own individual schedules and tasks, allowing teams to get the best of both worlds and optimize productivity. Nearly half of workers (49 percent) say they can meet deadlines better when remote, versus 31 percent who like to reach deadlines in-office. When it comes to meetings, more than half of workers (51 percent) say team meetings are more productive at the office, while a quarter (25 percent) prefer joining team meetings remotely. Additionally, 39 percent of workers say they are more productive when brainstorming and innovating at the office, while 37 percent prefer remote brainstorms.
Since the pandemic began, many companies have transformed their physical office spaces, from square footage to location to design, and 37 percent have hired someone to manage the workplace experience for on-site or remote employees. More than 1/3 of employers (37 percent) have closed offices or decreased office space and 13 percent have opened smaller satellite offices, while 14 percent of employees say their company provides access to a “third place,” like a coworking space, as a middle ground between home and office.
More than 1/4 of employees (28 percent) feel that they should be paid more to work remotely, with another 57 percent saying they should be paid the same regardless of where they do their jobs.
Employees spend twice as much money at the office ($862/month) versus working remotely ($431/month). The top costs for in-office workers per day include commuting ($14.60), lunch ($13.07), dinner ($10.98), and breakfast or coffee ($6.29).
Amid all these changes, almost half (45 percent) of employees say their work-related stress has increased. Among workers experiencing more stress, the leading cause is being back in the office, with 53 percent saying it’s their biggest concern. About half of these workers (49 percent) with higher stress levels are concerned they will not be given the flexibility they want, and 45 percent are worried they will be forced to go back to the office full-time.
Another source of stress, which affects 45 percent of workers, is being monitored by employers. While 75 percent of employees say that working from home would make them feel more trusted and 62 percent feel more productive when remote, 60 percent of managers think remote workers are less productive. Due to this mistrust, more than 1/3 of companies (37 percent) have added or increased their usage of employee activity tracking software since the pandemic began.
Considering some companies pulling a “bait and switch” by offering hybrid and remote options and then requiring people to come to the office instead, 9 percent of workers believe their employer is likely to get rid of their flexible work policy and 11 percent are completely unsure of their company’s plans.
To review the full report and detailed findings, visit http://owllabs.com/state-of-remote-work/2022. To learn more about Owl Labs and its ecosystem of video conferencing solutions for hybrid organizations, visit www.owllabs.com.