Over the last ten years, as technology has improved and organisations have begun to realise the benefits of flexible work arrangements, there has been a gradual shift to hybrid and remote work. The COVID-19 pandemic then forced remote work on large parts of the population.
So, with the easing of restrictions in many countries, are employees returning to the office or has the shift to flexible work been accelerated? Let’s take a look at what data has to say…
Completely Remote Setups
Even after the pandemic and lifting of lockdown orders, 16% of companies around the globe are operating completely remotely. When considering the number of industries where remote work is impossible, for example manufacturing, logistics, hospitality etc, this is an impressive number, especially when compared to the figures 10+ years ago. Since 2009, the number of people who work from home has risen by 159%.
The transition to a remote organisation comes with a host of benefits, including a worldwide talent pool to recruit from and zero office costs. It seems like a trend set to continue.
This is an opinion shared by management, with 85% of managers believing that teams with remote workers are becoming the norm. From an employee’s perspective, remote work also seems to be a huge advantage, with 74% mentioning that having the option of working remotely will considerably reduce their chances of leaving a job.
Flexible Work/Hybrid work
A key barrier to hybrid or flexible work is the planning and systems needed to ensure that each employee has what they need to carry out their job effectively and that communication and task management are seamless. However, the pandemic forced this onto many organisations and, as per this Forbes article, organisations and workers have become better adjusted to hybrid work arrangements.
It appears that a hybrid approach offers the best of both worlds: the community and enhanced effectiveness on certain types of work that one receives in the office, with the focus, productivity boost and control associated with remote work.
Data would also suggest that hybrid work is fast becoming a preferred model. According to a 2021 report by OWL lab, of the people who worked from home during the pandemic, most have started returning to the office at least once a week with 62% saying that they still work remotely at least occasionally.
Another report by Accenture showed that 63% of high revenue companies have incorporated hybrid working models and 66% of executives have expressed an intention to reorganise their office space to better accommodate a hybrid system.
A Full-Time Return to the Office
Returning fully to the office doesn’t seem to be a popular choice for employees, with some studies indicating that only 2% want to return to a completely office-based setup.
Despite this, the data suggests that 44% of companies still don’t allow remote working at all.
Given the pressure from employees, with 33% stating that they will consider quitting their jobs if they are forced to work full-time in the office, combined with hybrid work becoming the norm, this number is likely to fall.
Although a surprising number of organisations (44%) appear to have maintained a fully office based setup, increasing pressure from employees, market forces and the fact that hybrid work carries a host of benefits, all seem to suggest an accelerated shift towards remote and hybrid work.