Study: Small Companies Are More Flexible with Hybrid Work

According to a new report, 75% of tech companies are fully flexible when it comes to office working.

When remote work became a mainstay of 2020, a new era of employment was ushered in. Instead of commuting, employees could spend their time between home and work life more efficiently, and companies realized they didn’t need the large overheads of office and equipment.

All in all, it seemed that both parties celebrated this new approach to the traditional work-life model. Well, most did.

What we’re seeing now, three years down the line, is a clear divide in how companies approach flexible working. Many tech giants are scrapping their WFH policies, which is at odds with how the new Gen Z workforce prefer to do their jobs.

It’s a mammoth and complex topic, but a new report has shed a little light on the trends of flexible working. Let’s dig in.

Small Companies Are More Accommodating With Flexible Work

According to the latest Flex Index by Scoop — a robust source of company in-office requirements — there’s a clear divide happening between big and small tech.

The report, made up of 4,500 companies and over 100 million people, found that 65% of big tech companies (categorized as having 25,000+ employees) now enforce a structured hybrid model, which means they’ve set expectations on when employees work from the office. This could be the number of days, specific days or a minimum percentage of time.

Giants such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and Meta have either implemented or announced their plans for structured hybrid working, which is the fastest rising model.

In contrast to this, 88% of small tech companies (those with 500 employees or less) are fully flexible, with no rules or parameters on whether their employees come into an office or not. Similarly, 67% of companies under 100 employees are fully remote.

With a smaller workforce likely comes smaller HR procedures and policies. The need for by-the-book onboarding and mentorship can decrease as it’s seemingly easier to keep up with one another.

What Else Did The Report Find?

Those working within a structured hybrid company are usually required to be in the office for 2-3 days a week. The most common days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with only 15% of companies requiring staff to show up in person on a Monday.

For what it’s worth, very few tech companies of any size require their staff to be in the office full time. In fact, only 8% insisted, which is the lowest percentage across all industries.

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What Does This Mean For The Tech Industry?

It’s in the industry’s nature to lead in innovation, so it comes as no surprise that companies’ workplace practices are ahead of the game. Tech was found to be the most flexible industry, with media and entertainment then professional services following closely behind.

However, this innovation isn’t limited to big companies. In fact, it’s the smaller startups born out of the pandemic that have often pushed technical boundaries and capabilities.

All of this then poses a couple of interesting questions:

  • Can big tech companies retain top talent with more rigid working models, or are they likely to lose them to smaller companies with more relaxed policies?
  • What happens when these small companies grow into larger entities — will the policies remain the same or is a tighter rein required over a larger workforce?
  • When a small and scrappy startup matures into a slicker operation with software out in the wild and shareholders to answer to, does the need to ensure a working and usable product outweigh the employee-need to work fully flexibly?
  • Are in-person, hands-on collaborations more valuable and effective than those done over video calls and Slack?

Whatever the future workplace trends, right now for those who wish to remain flexible and working wholly on their terms, smaller companies appear to be the way to go.

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Written by:
Ellis Di Cataldo (MA) has over 9 years experience writing about, and for, some of the world’s biggest tech companies. She's been the lead writer across digital campaigns, always-on content and worldwide product launches, for global brands including Sony, Electrolux, Byrd, The Open University and Barclaycard. Her particular areas of interest are business trends, startup stories and product news.
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