As we begin to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, employees and employers alike face one major question: What will the office look like when we return to normalcy? Has the past year of working remotely changed the way offices will function forever? Or will we eventually all end up back in our lumbar-supporting seats in the office?
The answer largely depends on who you ask.
So, we surveyed nearly 500 employees working at small businesses in the U.S. and more than 500 decision-makers at small businesses in the U.S. about their feelings and opinions on remote work. (See the survey methodology at the end of this piece.)
Our goal was to identify key remote work statistics to help employers determine the best plan for their employees as we move out of the pandemic.
Based on the results of those surveys, here are five remote working statistics you need to see before making a decision about where your employees should work.
In our survey, 66% of employees and 64% of employers say a hybrid working model (where some employees work from the office and some work remotely) has had a positive impact on their business.
This result was especially interesting when taken into consideration alongside another stat. We asked decision-makers at hybrid, remote, and in-office businesses to rate their performance for several business metrics on a scale of 1 (poor) to 7 (excellent). Employer ratings for profitability, growth, and customer loyalty were all comparable (averaging around 5 for each, regardless of the work model being used).
It’s clear that a hybrid working model has had a positive impact for the majority of both employees and employers—this is a strong argument for continuing remote or hybrid work after the pandemic ends.
We asked employees and decision-makers which of the following hybrid work models they prefer:
At will: Employees can choose when and where they work during the week.
Work-based: Some employees work on-site full time and some employees work remotely full time.
Split week: All employees work on-site part of the week and remotely part of the week.
Remote first: Remote working is the default option aside from a handful of selected employees that work on-site.
On-site first: On-site working is the default option aside from a handful of selected employees that work remotely.
We found a bit of a discrepancy in their answers.
Decision-makers largely prefer a work-based approach, where employees’ working location is determined by their role and responsibilities. Employees want an at-will hybrid model in which they have the ability to choose when and where they work during the week.
We also found that 69% of decision-makers want workers to be in the office at least three days a week, whereas only 48% of employees say they’d like to be in the office the same amount of time.
The key here is compromise. Of course everyone wants to be in charge of their own schedule—who wouldn’t want that? But in situations where workers must be in person to complete at least some of their responsibilities, a compromise (in the form of a hybrid work model) may be the best approach.
We asked decision-makers at fully remote, in-person, and hybrid offices about their post-pandemic plans, and found that at least some of each group intend to allow their employees some flexibility with hybrid working options.
Likewise, some percentage of each group intends to resume fully on-site office structures.
The biggest takeaway here, though, is that the majority of employers in each group intend to keep doing whatever they’re currently doing in terms of workplace structure.
We also found that 30% of small businesses planning to go hybrid will factor in a worker's COVID-19 vaccination status when deciding if they will work on-site or remotely, so the health and safety of employees is still a consideration in determining where they should be allowed to work.
We’ve been in this pandemic for over a year now, so the businesses that are still open have likely found a situation that works for them and they’ll stick to that even after the pandemic is over. If you’re still trying to decide what to do post-pandemic, the clock is ticking. Waiting too long to make and announce your decision could lead to confusion or unnecessary turnover.
We asked decision-makers who are planning to either stay with or transition into a hybrid working model after the pandemic what that means for their current worksites.
A majority of respondents (64%) say they have either already made changes to their worksite or plan to before employees return to work. These changes include redesigning their current office space or finding an entirely new one.
Hybrid working models allow for more flexibility when it comes to the size of an office, desk availability, and other in-person amenities. It’s likely the changes in worksites being made have to do with optimizing the workplace for the requirements of a hybrid workforce. For example, companies that are able to downsize their space may want to adopt hot desking practices to better optimize the space they keep.
Office amenities and workplace benefits are still important for hybrid workforces, but they’re going to look different from those of fully on-site offices. Survey your employees to understand what makes remote work appealing and see which factors can be reasonably implemented in a hybrid work model.
Perhaps the most compelling data point out of all the remote work statistics our survey revealed has to do with the level of enthusiasm employees have for flexible work arrangements.
We found that over half of employees surveyed are moderately or extremely likely to consider looking for a new job if their current employers fail to offer some sort of flexible work arrangement that allows them to work from home at least part of the time.
Note that only 15% of employees say they would be not at all likely to consider leaving their job in this situation. This clearly illustrates how important it is for employers to listen to their employees and offer at least some kind of compromise on flexible work options.
The past year of remote work has shown exactly how easy it is for most jobs to be done at home, and there’s really no going back from that completely. Employees recognize the value in having greater flexibility with their schedules, so employers should come to terms with the fact that this is going to be an expectation to some degree from now on. Regardless, employers should brace for at least some turnover as decisions about working models are made.
Based on the remote work statistics we’ve covered here, hybrid work is a hands-down favorite model for employees—and it has it’s advantages for employers as well.
If you’re considering hybrid work for your office, you may find these resources helpful:
The GetApp Hybrid Work Survey was conducted in April 2021. We surveyed 503 decision-makers and 488 employees at small businesses (2-250 employees) in the U.S. We used screening questions to narrow down our respondents to ensure they fit these parameters.