Remote Workers Have Higher Degree of Psychological Safety Than On-site Employees

Remote employees have enjoyed better work-life balance, however, a meQuilibrium survey of 3,900 employees found an additional reason people are reluctant to return to the office — remote and hybrid employees have a higher degree of psychological safety at work than on-site employees.

On-site employees said they are 66 percent more likely to feel like mistakes are held against them, they are 57 percent more likely to say that people are rejected for being different, and 36 percent more likely to find it difficult to ask teammates for help.

“There is a real difference in psychological safety among work settings,” said Brad Smith, PhD., Chief Science Officer, meQuilibrium. “In many remote-for-the-first-time environments where everybody is the same size square on the video call, it’s often easier to speak up and be heard.”

The survey found those working on-site are less likely to feel at ease discussing difficult topics, less likely to feel safe taking risks and less likely to feel that the team respects and values each other. Nearly half (44.5 percent) of the employees surveyed said they would quit if there was a requirement to work on-site without a remote or hybrid option.

A lack of psychological safety at work can have repercussions on a business. Teams where members don’t feel comfortable taking a risk to raise a new idea or suggest a new approach will have difficulty innovating. For organizations to be successful, their people need to feel comfortable speaking up, asking questions, and disagreeing with team members and managers.

Considering psychological safety across different levels of resilience, the study found that 60 percent of employees with low resilience and low psychological safety feel burned out and 34 percent are thinking about quitting their job. Just 5 percent of highly resilient employees who feel psychologically safe reported feeling burned out and just 3 percent were thinking about quitting.

“As employers continue to consider how best to structure the workplace, leaders will need to address this very real gap in psychological safety across work settings in order to ensure that innovation, creativity and change-readiness is not compromised in the return to on-site work,” Smith said.

The full meQuilibrium study can be found here.