92: Percentage of employees who want flexibility around where they work
Just 8% of those surveyed this fall would prefer to work either at home all the time (6%) or at an office all the time (2%), according to Smartway2‘s global Returning to Work Survey: How do professionals really feel?
The remaining 92% would prefer one of the following:
- to work mostly from home with occasional office time (40%)
- to share their time equally between home and office (31%)
- to work mostly at the office with occasional time at home (21%)
As the survey authors wrote, the 200 professionals, primarily office workers across all industries, who were surveyed “expressed an overwhelming desire to mix it up.”
What it means to HR leaders
Although CEOs might look at those numbers and see opportunities to reduce real estate costs and boost sustainability, for HR leaders, the takeaway is autonomy, says John T. Anderson, CEO of Smartway2.
“It’s important that people are given the autonomy to choose where and when they work,” Anderson says. “There are many nuances in each individual’s situation, depending on their job role, whether they have children or are caring for relatives, whether they have health issues, whether they’re equipped to work from home and many other variables.”
That makes it crucial that organizations are ensuring safe workplaces with automated procedures for social distancing and contact tracing to limit COVID-19 exposure for those who are in the office, he says. That’s where HR’s role is key.
“We are seeing senior HR leaders very involved in the decisions of how to bring employees back to work in a safe manner, particularly as it applies to evaluating the use of technology. This is an increasing trend since COVID,” he says. “HR will continue to play a core role in any ‘returning to work’ team, particularly around eliciting employee feedback in order to improve processes and adapt policies to protect the safety and wellbeing of their teams.”
Data suggests that many organizations will adopt a hybrid model going forward so employees can find the ideal balance between in-office and remote working, according to their ever-changing needs and preferences, Anderson says.
“When the office is just one of many workplaces, it must compete with home, the café or the co-working space to be the best place where people do their best work, whether that work involves deep focus or creative collaboration,” the study authors wrote.