A US-based poll found that only 31% of respondents say that someone in their organization has asked for their input when it comes to their remote and hybrid work preferences.
The research commissioned by management consulting firm, Eagle Hill Consulting, included 1,350 survey respondents from a random sample of employees across the US in October 2023.
The study comes at a time when return to workplace mandates have been coming in thick and fast, much to many employees' dissatisfaction. This polarizing debate rumbles on, as the pros and cons of each side are clear and valid, it now looks like a case of who can hold their nerve longer until a middle (or hybrid) ground is reached.
Bosses Prepared to Lose Talent
As well as almost 60% of respondents not being asked for their preferences, the Eagle Hill Consulting study also found that nearly half of the workforce (47%) say they would consider looking for a new job should their employer reduce remote and hybrid work flexibility, up from 43% just six months ago.
According to this study, it seems as though those companies rolling back on flexible working environments are hellbent on implementing a return to office policy regardless of the potential regret that comes along with it.
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Millennials currently make up the majority of the US workforce, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they will make up 75% of the US workforce by 2030.
Of the respondents who would consider alternative employment opportunities if their working environment were to become office-based, 60% of Millennials and Gen-Zers were among them, whereas only one third of boomers felt the same.
This demonstrates that there is an ongoing power struggle between employees who enjoy the freedom of remote or hybrid working, and their organizations, who wish to buck the trend despite the lack of support from the biggest section of the workforce.
The “Genie’s Out the Bottle”
This study shows that many workers’ opinions regarding working environments are not being heard, which can often be damaging to productivity and loyalty, particularly because many become accustomed to the benefits of remote work.
“Many workers learned during the pandemic that two things can be true at the same time: they can get their job done and have improved work-life balance via hybrid or remote work. It's hard to put that genie back in the bottle, so work flexibility often is a way to meet in the middle. Our research finds employees deeply value in-person work, but they don't want strict mandates, nor do they want long and expensive commutes every day.” – Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting
There are many nuances to this debate. While on one hand there are many valid concerns about increasing in-person work requirements, the survey respondents cited that work-life balance (43%), higher costs (34%), stress (34%), and commute times (33%) were the main issues.
On the other hand, two thirds of respondents also said that those who work more in the office rather than remotely are more likely to be successful in their jobs.