With many companies being forced into a remote/hybrid work arrangement due to the pandemic, research has found that employees have quickly become accustomed to the new way of working, so much so that reportedly over half would leave their jobs if they were forced to return to the office full time.
The report, a collaboration between the UK's YouGov and Microsoft, also found that a hybrid approach had a positive impact on employee wellbeing.
While HR professionals reported that some tasks, such as onboarding were made more difficult by hybrid working, they also reported that tech, such as web conferencing software, was able to bridge the gap considerably.
People Would Rather Leave than Return to the Office
The numbers are in. Research born from a collaboration between YouGov and Microsoft shows that employees have happily taken to ditching the commute and cubicle, with 51% of workers polled in the survey stating that they would leave their job if the hybrid option was removed.
The research is based on UK workers, but it's a sentiment we've seen echoed worldwide. In a similar survey of US workers conducted earlier in the year, nearly 50% of respondents stated they would take up to a 5% pay cut to continue working from home. Incidentally, the same survey also found that people working from home were more likely to put in extra hours, with 30% of men and 22% of women claiming to work an additional two or more hours a day.
It's become such a concern that it's been dubbed “The Great Resignation,” with the pandemic seeing record numbers of job leavers (4.4 million in November alone) ditching their companies in search of better roles. In addition, companies report that recruitment has become harder too, with some struggling to fill the gaps left behind. The YouGov/Microsoft survey itself states that HR professionals claim lack of hybrid options is the number one risk to retaining staff.
The Downside of Hybrid Working
While the survey tells us that the majority of workers have embraced hybrid working, that's not to say it isn't without its downsides.
A third of those polled that had started a new job during the pandemic said that they had never physically set foot in the office, and as a result some reported they had struggled to form relationships with colleagues (42%), engage in company culture (21%), and learn new software and applications (24%).
There are also dangers in less obvious places. Nearly 60% of dermatologists in the US have seen a rise in the number of cosmetic consultations since the pandemic, with constant video calls causing many of us to spend more time studying our face reflected back at us than is natural.
Navigating Hybrid Work Issues with Tech
While the reports some hybrid-related complications have affected recruitment, HR professionals polled stated that the long-term effect of hybrid working negated early teething problems. 37% stated that while onboarding new recruits remotely could be challenging, using technology made most issues resolvable.
There's no doubt that we've seen a surge in remote tech in the past 18 months. At the end of 2019, very few people knew what Zoom was — now it has its own dictionary definition.
Web conferencing software has enabled teams and companies to continue collaborating face to face, and tools like the aforementioned Zoom, as well as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have revolutionized the very concept of the work meeting, letting us catch up with colleagues wherever they are.
Other tools, such as remote desktop software, which enables used to log into a physical PC in another place, remotely, have also been leaned on heavily by employees, and password managers and VPNs have ensured that sensitive company data has been less compromised.
Many businesses have had to adjust to a hybrid working model practical overnight, and there are still some teething issues that need to be worked out. However, with employees enjoying the freedom it gives them, and companies that don't offer it struggling to recruit, it very much appears to be here to stay.