What is Hybrid Work? Statistics You Can’t Afford To Ignore

We had the technology to enable remote work years ago.  What we didn’t have was the corporate will to make those possibilities a reality.  That all changed in early 2020 when a dangerous respiratory virus changed our office culture as we know it.

Overnight, everything changed.

Companies that were built on watercooler culture and cluttered workspaces – suddenly became all about Zoom meetings and cloud-based collaboration.

What Is The Hybrid Workspace Model?

The hybrid work model consists of a strategy where teams are free to work in varying environments, which can range from working from home [WFM], the office part-time, or even local coworking spaces.  The hybrid workspace was adopted as a way to unify both employer and employee demands.  Employees are free to perform their job outside of the office on some days but commute to the office or local workspaces for in-person meetings.

It’s important to note that remote work is not the same as hybrid work.

Remote work refers to work that is fully independent of a geographical location.  Remote employees never have to be in the office and can perform their job entirely outside of the office environment with just a connection to the internet.

Before we get into remote work statistics and hybrid work statistics in a lot more detail, we need to understand why it’s important. 

According to Owl Labs (a leading video conferencing platform), 16% of employees around the world are working fully remotely, and 62% of remaining adults say they work from home some of the time. This means right now, we only have about 22% (a huge minority) of employees that work in the office full time.

How Often Do Employees Work Remotely?

Some studies indicate that 61% of employees prefer to be fully remote.  They might be willing to make a trip to the office on the odd occasion, but for day-to-day purposes, they want to spend their time working from home offices.  Here are some hybrid workplace statistics:

·         18% of the workforce, globally, currently works from home all the time.

·         2.9% of U.S. workers work from home half of the time.

These statistics have been rising for years – long before the pandemic started.  But the pandemic has supercharged work from home, and now that employees have seen the possibilities, it’s highly unlikely it will ever go back to what it was before.

How Do Employers Feel About Hybrid Work?

We’ve seen all kinds of headlines splashed over the media about how companies have taken varying stances on the hybrid model.  Mega corporations like Twitter have allowed their employees to work from home forever, while other companies with real-estate portfolios have pushed for a return to the office approach.

About 44% of all companies in the world (according to Owl Labs again), don’t allow for remote work options.  They might have to rethink their stance though. Early news reports out of Europe indicate that there are several countries there that plan to make remote work a legal right, even after Covid. 

So how do employees feel about all of this?

Attracting Talent

Employees have embraced remote work so much that in the U.S. alone, 39% of adults surveyed said they would consider quitting if it was taken off the table.  That figure goes up to 49% if you talk to millennials and Gen Z employees.  Due to this,  remote work has become one of the top factors in attracting and retaining talent in the workforce today.

Cutting The Commute

If you could devote less time in traveling to your office, wouldn’t it make sense that you could be more productive?

People are also waking up to the fact that commuting is the second largest cause of emissions in the world.  As countries work towards green goals, it’s likely that more will go after this low-hanging fruit.

Less Micromanagement = More Productivity

By switching from the idea that long hours are better, companies have seen a massive increase in productivity by instead focusing on agreed deliverables from their remote teams.

PwC, another global leader, surveyed a variety of business leaders, and 83% say the shift to remote work has been a success. 

Gartner, the world-renowned research, and consulting company ran a survey asking whether employers planned to continue remote or hybrid situations permanently – 80% said they did

Why Have Employers Embraced The Hybrid Model?

The reduction in costs related to remote work is not something we just learned.  Work from home advocates have been touting these savings for many years.  It’s just that we had to have mass uptake of the “work from home experiment” to really test those figures.

Most businesses who have embraced remote work have found that they do save a lot of money this way.

Some of the studies that have been conducted in the past indicate that remote workforces save employers something between $7,000 and $16,000 per year.  That’s on top of savings of about $5,000 to each employee. 

Reduction Of Office Space Related Costs

One of the big cost savings to employers is in office space.  If most of their workforce is not working from the office, they can choose smaller spaces where they store important documents and information, have a few “hot desks” for employees that are working on a hybrid model, and some space for core employees who cannot work remotely.

Office rental alone can cost between $595 per square foot at the top end and $61 at the lower end, so even eliminating a few hundred square feet could cut thousands off business overhead costs.

Increased Profit

Companies don’t only save on costs.  A study by Stanford indicated that companies earn, on average, $2,000 more in profit for every remote worker.  So, there are some real bottom line financial reasons to choose a remote or even a hybrid work model.

Headlines have trumpeted “The end of the office as we know it”, but we’re not quite there nor is that realistic.  Companies still need office space and teams need to reconnect to enhance company culture.  It’s going to be the “traditional office” of one headquarter, 9 am-5 pm that will disappear as we know it.

Regus compiled a comprehensive report on their statistics related to these big changes, but there are a few key takeaways:

·   Giant corporate offices are probably going to be the first to go.  Not only are they the biggest real estate costs for companies, but many remote workers are moving out of cities – so smaller, satellite offices will start to make more sense.

·         Corporate and commercial space rental costs are going down sharply.  This is the single greatest shift in supply and demand the industry has ever seen, and there’s no end in sight!

There are other reports too.  Some indicate ominous consequences for building owners and landlords who will not adapt to the future of work.  In fact, in an article about the situation in New York in April, the New York Times points to 25% vacancy in the city’s most in-demand commercial and corporate districts.

There are similar statistics around the world.  In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a major city anywhere in the world where their commercial property vacancy rate is less than double digits.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – at least not for everyone.

Many companies that could only afford to rent before have now been able to negotiate the purchase of commercial space that they could never afford before.

Several cities are also finding that companies who own commercial buildings – especially in sought-after central business districts – are converting them into living or Coliving spaces. Combined with the remote worker exodus from cities, this is changing the way we use cities and could be a positive change for local economies.  People might not be traveling downtown to work, but they’re making them their home, and that will always stimulate local business.

The last time we saw such a monumental change in how we live and work was the industrial revolution.  So, while we can’t predict just yet what the outcome of all this change will be, there’s no denying that we’ll find a way to make it work.  Even in the commercial real estate market.

The Benefits Of Hybrid Work

It’s not hard to see why they asked if they prefer working from home to working in the office, nearly every employee polled chose remote.  In fact, in an official study by Buffer, 99% of people would choose remote work if they could even if it was part-time or if they had to give up other things.  Given the choice between commuting 1 hour to 1-½ hours one way to sit in a crowded office in uncomfortable clothing, including bad coffee and office politics, I’m betting we’d make the same decision.

But there are some very interesting remote work statistics and hybrid work statistics that aren’t quite as obvious.

·         The Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago asked 10,000 people if they thought they were as productive when working from home.  They all said they were.  In fact, 30% of those polled felt that they were more productive working from home than in the office.

·         On average, employees save 40 minutes of commuting time every day.  That is 3.33 hours per week, or nearly seven days per year, assuming you work a five-day work week!

·         77% of people who work remotely – even occasionally – have improved productivity.  Of those, 30% work more in less time, and 24% do the same amount of work in less time.

·         Distractions are another big problem in the office, and 75% of people working remotely say they can avoid them more.  This makes sense because they have more control over their working environment.

·         69% of millennials, according to CBRE, would give up other benefits – if it meant they would be able to work from home.  Some are even willing to take pay cuts if they have to.

·         Not only would most workers jump at a remote work opportunity, being able to work from home also makes them 74% less likely to leave their job, and even before the pandemic, there were 50% less resignations from people who were allowed to work remotely.

·         With more time on their hands, many employees are spending more time studying and learning skills that can be of use in their current jobs.

The Negatives Of Hybrid Work

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses.  The other side of the remote work coin is that not all remote employees are getting the support they need.

Isolation

Buffer reports that employees who work remotely feel disconnected, with 17% indicating a lack of communication, 19% loneliness, and 22% having trouble defining the line between work and non-work hours.

Security

54% of IT professionals worry more about remote workers in terms of the security risk they pose to the company.

Lack of Communication

70% or fewer remote employees feel they are getting sufficient training from their companies.

Remote employees feel less connected to management, and only 16% feel their manager includes them in goal-setting exercises.

With the right policies in place, employers can easily overcome these small hurdles.

The Corporate Dilemma

As shown in this article, most remote work and hybrid workplace statistics are overwhelmingly positive.

Employees are happier, they get more done, and are less likely to take sick days.  They also save money and time commuting to and from work (and are willing to be more flexible to get work done because of it.)

Employers save money on office space, get more work done in less time, don’t see productivity drops, and can attract and retain a better workforce.

So why are some companies still opposed to working from home?

  1. Older companies are sticklers for tradition – they’ve always done things a certain way, and are resistant to change.
  2. The company relies heavily on social relationships and office politics – so middle managers might not like the idea that they get less “face time” to build their brand.
  3.   There’s a lack of trust, and managers want to be able to “check in” on employees throughout the day.
  4. The company’s technology infrastructure isn’t up to the change – and they lack the will or interest in upgrading to more modern systems.
  5. Companies are worried that employees are either less engaged or might be “moonlighting” on company time.

As you can see from this list, most of the reasons companies who oppose working from home or hybrid work models are based on insecurity and resistance to change.

Yes, employees who work from home might take some time off to go to the dentist or run to the store.  Some might start their own business or leave the company – but they probably would have whether they worked from the office or from home.  Others might not deliver the results the company requires.

But, the vast majority of people who do work from home are not only more productive and get their tasks done on time and correctly, but they also want to keep the arrangement going.  So, provided they have clear goals and instructions, they are far more likely to work harder and deliver better results, so they can keep working from home.

If they have to take some time off to do something, they’ll make double sure to make it up so they can keep delivering to the required standard.

Work from home and the work-life balance it brings is the single greatest motivator of employees we have seen in centuries.  There is nothing else that comes close in terms of a desirable perk. People are willing to go above and beyond to keep this arrangement going.

So, instead of resisting this change, smart companies should be (and are) using it as leverage when hiring and discussing promotions and role changes.  Work from home and hybrid work situations are, without a doubt, a win for everyone involved.

Where to from Here?

The hybrid workplace model is likely to remain in the long term.  Most people want to do it, at least some of the time, and it’s become one of the top things top talent look for when they are job hunting.

Companies that want to attract and retain the best people will have to embrace a work from anywhere approach.  If not as their primary working situation, then certainly in some kind of hybrid or flexible solution.

It was understandable, in March 2020, that everyone was nervous about this “new” approach. But productivity stats support this as a viable business choice, and the cost savings for companies and employees can’t be overstated. If you are looking to go hybrid DropDesk can help.