The Future of Work, Revisited: Employees Want Even More Flexibility in Where They Work
With the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic approaching, so too is the two-year anniversary of working from home for employees across many different sectors. While the pandemic continues to unfold, companies are fine-tuning their return-to-work plans, with many opting for a hybrid work policy where employees work both remotely and in person.
As a company that creates solutions to help enable teams to do their best work from anywhere, Zoom wanted to check back in with workers on how they feel about their work environment.
We partnered with Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey) in 2021 to find out how workers felt about hybrid work and did so again this year to see how those opinions have evolved. Here are a few of the key insights from the 2022 report.
Where do they want to be?
Absence appears to make the heart grow fonder regarding workers’ feelings about returning to the office. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said that working full-time from the office or workplace would be their ideal choice. Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) remote workers say they’d prefer to stay remote, almost twice as many compared to 2021 (15%).
However, when asked about their ideal work environment — remote, in-person, or hybrid — workers tend to choose the work environment that their colleagues are choosing. Sixty-four percent of workers whose colleagues are working from home full-time say they would also like to work from home, and 48% of workers whose colleagues are working from the office full-time say they would also like to work from the office.
Workers want to choose where they work, and they might leave if they can’t
Regardless of preferred work settings and styles, the report demonstrates employee choice is paramount. Sixty-nine percent of respondents want to decide where and how they work. The choice is even more critical for those already working remotely — 85% say it’s essential for their employer to let them choose where they work.
How important is this choice? Almost half (45%) of respondents said they would likely look for a new job if they’re not allowed to work in their preferred location. The percentage increases to 55% for those already working from home. It’s no surprise that remote and hybrid employees feel strongly about picking and remaining in their preferred work environment, as the vast majority (92%) of remote workers feel that they can succeed in their current work environment.
Year-over-year comparison of desired work environment
|If it were up to you, which would be your ideal choice for your workplace?||2021||2022|
|Working fully from your office or workplace||20%||38%|
|Working mostly from your office or workplace||33%||20%|
|Working mostly from home||32%||20%|
|Working fully from home||15%||19%|
Team building is better in-person, but relationships can be built from home
Throughout 2021, many of us continued working from home full-time and were only able to meet new colleagues virtually. Fortunately, remote work does not appear to inhibit these critical workspace connections.
In 2022, 63% of respondents found that building new relationships with colleagues was either somewhat or very easy over the past 12 months. While bonding virtually seems to be facilitated well by platforms like Zoom, there appears to be a significant desire to participate in team bonding in person — 62% of respondents would rather participate in team bonding activities in person.
For those who have been working remotely, here is a breakdown of how they’d like to attend their meetings in the future:
|Attending large group meetings||31%||59%|
|Working in small teams on projects||41%||50%|
|Meeting one on one with your supervisor||45%||46%|
|Presenting in front of a group||42%||46%|
|Meeting one on one with people you supervise||45%||36%|
|Meeting new clients or customers||53%||33%|
|Team bonding activities||58%||29%|
|Interviewing job candidates||44%||39%|
*Totals do not equal 100% because respondents who selected “not applicable” are not shown above.
Resources are key to preparing employees in hybrid or remote environments
Regarding workforce preparedness for hybrid and remote work, 42% of respondents said they’d received training or educational materials on how to work in hybrid or remote environments. Should work continue to remain distributed in one way or another, such resources will become crucial for employee and company success.
Read more on how employers prepare their employees and themselves for what Zoom CIO Harry Moseley calls the era of flexibility.
Empower your workforce as work transforms
As the world of work continues to evolve, organizations will have to decide how to best support their employees and customers. Zoom is working through all of this as well; here are a few resources that can help you understand our perspective:
- Read a post from Zoom CFO Kelly Steckelberg on the future of work at Zoom.
- View our Work Transformation Summit recordings, held Jan. 19, 2022 on our Zoom Events platform.
- Visit our hybrid work solutions webpage for more thought leadership on the changing world of work.
From Momentive: This Momentive online poll was conducted January 11-14, 2022, among a national sample of 4,912 adults. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the Momentive platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 2 percentage points. Data have been 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 age 18 and over.
Editor’s note 2/23/22: We have updated this blog with additional information from the Momentive study.