What do employees want? This is the future of work

Can you believe it was over two years ago that many of us bade farewell to the office, turned loungewear into everyday fashion, panic-bought toilet paper, and fired up our ovens for home baking projects? Now, in a post-pandemic world, companies are continuing to fine-tune what the new normal looks like for them; many are opting to maintain a hybrid work environment indefinitely. They’re all grappling with questions that seem to lack straightforward answers: what is it that employees of today really want? And what does the future of work look like?

In 2021, Zoom partnered with Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey) to find out how workers felt about hybrid work. They repeated the survey in 2022 to see how those opinions had evolved. The 2022 report released by Momentive included data from a national sample of 4,912 adults, who were selected from the more than two million people who take surveys on the Momentive platform each day. Data were weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States aged 18 and over. The results were then compared to those from a similar survey conducted in 2021.

Perhaps the most insightful finding from the survey is that people desire the autonomy to choose where they work, and many are unafraid to leave jobs with strict location requirements. The finding highlights the prerogative of organizations to fully support hybrid work with resources and initiatives that enable teams to collaborative productively.

Where do knowledge workers want to work?

Interestingly, more employees would prefer to work full time from the office in 2022 (38%) than in 2021 (20%). More would also prefer to work fully from home (19% in 2022, vs 15% in 2021). Of those already working remotely, 28% said they would prefer to stay remote, up from 15% in 2021. What’s clear from these data is that more employees know what they want, since the hybrid options of working mostly from the office and working mostly from home decreased by 13% and 12% respectively, in favor of the fully on- or off-site options.

What influences the choice of work environment?

When asked about their ideal work environment—remote, on-site, or hybrid—some workers tend to choose the work environment that their colleagues are choosing:

  • 64% of workers whose colleagues are working remotely full-time say they would also like to work from home
  • 48% of workers whose colleagues are working on-site full-time say they would also like to work from the office

Employee choice is paramount

Regardless of preferred work settings and styles, Momentive’s report demonstrates that employees would like to have the option—69% of respondents said they want to be able to decide where and how they work. Of those already working remotely, 85% said it’s essential for their employers to let them choose where they work. 

And what if they are not allowed to work in their preferred locations? Almost half (45%) of workers said they would likely look for a new job, a number that jumps to 55% for those already working from home.

How would they like to attend meetings? 

Those who have been working remotely would prefer to attend most meeting types remotely. However, there are some exceptions: 

  • Meeting one-on-one with people you supervise
  • Meeting new clients or customers
  • Team bonding activities
  • Interviewing job candidates

Training resources are crucial 

When preparing employees in hybrid or remote environments, access to resources and technology for training and development is essential for employee and company success. In the survey, 42% of respondents said they’d received training or educational materials on how to work in hybrid or remote environments. From our experience, we feel that this number should be higher, and that every company should prioritize employee training to prepare them for the new way of working. 

One of our clients, a large pharmaceutical company, was navigating the new hybrid working environment with a mix of on-site and remote working arrangements. The client needed to prepare leaders to address common challenges, lead hybrid teams effectively, and avoid proximity bias.

To help them achieve this, we used Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design and delivery platform to produce two robust simulations made up of a total of twelve of the most likely dilemmas that leaders would face, including issues such as:

  • Ensuring equality of opportunities and information
  • Preventing proximity bias 
  • Dilemmas that may arise and how to fix them
  • Giving feedback
  • Monitoring performance when you’re not working in the same place
  • Concerns individuals were likely to have about their work arrangements

The participant response to the immersive and collaborative learning experience has been overwhelmingly positive. The client continues to use the simulations we developed to enhance their hybrid working environment dynamics. 

Empower your workforce as the world of work transforms

As the world of work continues to evolve in 2022 and beyond, organizations will need to decide how to support their employees and customers. One of the best ways of doing this is to provide opportunities for training and development that equips leaders and employees with the skills they need to navigate the dynamic work environment. 

Get in touch with the Blueline Simulations team to learn more about how we can help your organization become future-fit for the new world of work. 

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