Navigating the Future of Hybrid Work
Updated: Apr 4, 2022
“The future of work isn’t either remote or office-based—it’s both.” - Brian Elliott, executive leader of Future Forum As we continue to navigate work in a “world with COVID,” many client advisors have appreciated the perspective of how others are currently navigating work arrangements as well. A recent global survey from Future Forum Pulse (January 25, 2022) looked at working trends, preferences and concerns among full-time “knowledge workers” (defined as employees who “work with data, analyze information or think creatively”). Some of the findings were not surprising:
Hybrid work models have become the standard; 58 percent of global respondents were working in hybrid arrangements, and less than 30 percent were working from the office every day (as of late 2021/early 2022).
52 percent of women, compared to only 46 percent of men, wanted to work mostly remotely.
Parents had a stronger preference for remote or hybrid work arrangements than nonparents.
72 percent of workers who were dissatisfied with their current work flexibility said they were likely to look for another job in 2022 (versus 58 percent of total respondents).
Other findings were less anticipated:
While 78 percent of survey respondents said they wanted work location flexibility, the larger ask was for schedule flexibility with 95 percent wanting flexibility when they work.
People of color (POC) are disproportionately opting into remote and hybrid work (with the following percentages of respondents currently working in either a remote or hybrid model—Hispanic/Latinx: 84 percent, Black: 76 percent, Asian/Asian American: 74 percent and white: 67 percent.
Some results were encouraging:
Employee experience scores rose across the board compared to prior Future Forum surveys; these spanned work-life balance, sense of belonging at work, sense of productivity, feeling good about stress or anxiety, access, ability to focus and overall work satisfaction.
Scores for hybrid and remote employees were higher than in-office workers across criteria.
Much of these gains were driven by POC respondents, with double-digit improvement for Black and Hispanic/Latinx in “sense of belonging at work,” “valuing relationships with co-workers” and “being treated fairly at work.”
While the new normal of redesigned working arrangements seems to be settling into a reliable pattern, there are still challenges ahead. Gaps still exist in experience scores by race/ethnicity, but there is evidence that the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are having a positive impact. Survey data shows a direct correlation between employees' rating of their firm’s DEI investment and strength in employee engagement and experience scores—which is promising for continued and strengthened DEI investment. The growing concern for leadership, as we forge forward in a hybrid work world, is proactively addressing the potential for proximity bias, or the preferred treatment or additional opportunities in-person workers might receive relative to their remote or hybrid peers. With white men disproportionately working in the office, leaders will have to be proactive in protecting diversity and retaining top remote and hybrid talent by ensuring that those workers have equivalent visibility, access, opportunity and resources as their more heavily in-office peers.
Christy Charise, Founder & CEO of Strategic Advisor www.strategicadvisor.co