Over the past year, the world of work has changed dramatically as organizations across the world were forced to rethink their operations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This change prompted businesses to employ new strategies and tools to continue serving customers and driving revenue with a remote workforce.
Of late, there has been a lot of information on the future of hybrid work, and as we begin returning to the office, organizations must adapt their work styles to operationalize this future, to ensure employee satisfaction, expand access to talent, and maximize productivity.
Recently, Zoom teamed up with SurveyMonkey to survey more than 1,500 US-based remote workers to better understand what people think, feel, need and expect about the future of work and returning to the office. Questions were included about the impact of collaboration tools on their role, their preferred work models, and how they would like to approach traditionally in-office activities in the future.
Hybrid work is going to be a reality
Although the survey found that the majority of workers are eagerly anticipating returning to the office (66%), according to the report:
- About two-thirds (65%) of respondents who have been working from home over the past year said that a hybrid work environment was their ideal work model
- Of that 65%, 33% said they prefer to work mostly from the office, while 32% prefer to work mostly from home
The survey also says that employees’ preference of where their work takes place varied significantly by age. According to the results of the survey, younger remote workers between 18-34 prefer to work mostly from the office, while older remote workers that are 65+ prefer to work mostly from home.
Although fewer respondents preferred a strict in-office or at-home work model, they also made up a significant percentage of respondents (35%):
- 20% of respondents preferred to work fully from the office
- 15% of respondents preferred working fully from home
What do these results tell us?
It’s clear from this data and other reports that most surveyed employees prefer a hybrid approach to work. However, employees have different preferences as to where they want that work to happen. With people almost evenly split on working mostly from home and working mostly from the office, companies need to plan for flexibility while ensuring their office spaces are outfitted accordingly. They need to equip their teams with tools to connect, collaborate, and get more done, no matter where they’re working from.
Remote workers will also need access to the resources, equipment, and solutions that empower them to do their jobs effectively and efficiently in tandem with their in-office counterparts.
Employees differ on which meetings they want in-person vs online
While the results show that employees prefer some form of a hybrid work model, they also suggest that employees may prefer to come into the office or work from home based on their activities for the day. According to the report:
- For large group meetings, 61% of remote workers would prefer to attend virtually compared to 31% of workers who would prefer to come into the office
- For small teams project meetings, remote workers were evenly split between working from the office (51%) and working from home (49%)
- For meeting new clients or customers, remote workers were more likely to prefer in-person (69%), as opposed to a third who preferred taking these meetings virtually from home (31%)
|If you had a choice, would you prefer to perform each of the following work activities in person at your workplace or virtually from home?||In the office||Practically at home|
|Attend large group meetings||39%||61%|
|Work in small teams on projects||51%||49%|
|Meeting face to face with your supervisor||53%||47%|
|Present in front of a group||54%||46%|
|Meet physically with the people you supervise||59%||41%|
|Meet new clients or clients||69%||31%|
There were also notable differences in responses when filtered by men and women for this section of the survey:
- 44% of men said they prefer to attend large group meetings in the office compared to 33% of women
- 54% of men and 48% of women prefer to work in small teams on projects in the office
- 60% of men and 47% of women prefer to present in front of a group at the office rather than from home
How to interpret these results?
To meet these employees’ needs, organizations must support flexible work models. By allowing employees to choose whether they come into the office or attend activities virtually, businesses can give employees more autonomy in how they structure their workweek, helping to improve productivity and create a better work-life balance as a result.
However, if organizations provide their employees with that flexibility, they also need to ensure that their remote employees have the ability to complete these activities as effectively in a remote environment. Whether it’s attending an all-hands, meeting with a new client, giving a presentation, or leading a team meeting, providing employees with dynamic video conferencing, phone, webinar, and chat solutions that give them the same communication capabilities ensures your teams will be effective, regardless of whether they choose to come into the office or not.
This SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted February 24-28, 2021 among a national sample of 1,560 employed adults who have been working from home. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey 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.