- More than two-thirds (68%) of U.S. workers would prefer a hybrid workplace model after the pandemic ends, according to Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker survey, conducted by Morning Consult in March. Of those surveyed who have been working remotely, 87% want to continue to work remotely at least one day per week post-pandemic.
- Employees indicated a flexible work situation is becoming a must-have. Close to half of remote employees (42%) said they would seek a different job if their employer refuses to offer remote work options long term. Among the benefits of working remotely, employees listed saving money, cutting out their commutes, spending more time with their families, getting more sleep, improving their health and reducing their overall stress.
- The desire for a hybrid workspace does not mean employees want to work remotely all the time, however. Forty-one percent of respondents said they would not want to work for a company that is entirely remote. Workers listed “feeling disconnected” and pressure to constantly remain online as challenges of the remote work model. More than half (54%) reported taking less time off and 35% said they were working more hours.
The pandemic has hastened remote work’s evolution from a perk offered by some employers in certain circumstances to an option employees expect. As Prudential noted, 35% of respondents to a similar survey question from September 2020 said they wanted their employers to offer remote-work options after the pandemic subsides. As Americans adapt to a year of remote work, it appears a “new normal” has set in — and with it, a new set of expectations.
The findings are more than a one-off; they align with those of other recent surveys, such as that conducted by global staffing agency Robert Half, which found that nearly half of workers prefer a hybrid-work model and that one in three employees would seek a new job if required to return to the office.
Employees may be setting their expectations based on news that most companies are considering hybrid-work options after the pandemic and already-announced commitments to future remote-work options from Twitter, Google, Spotify and other major companies.
Employees’ willingness to leave their jobs for more flexible workplaces may add pressure for HR professionals, who are already under significant stress due to changes caused by the pandemic.
But employees’ interest in more flexible work environments also offers an opportunity for employers willing to keep or extend hybrid and remote options. A majority of HR professionals (66%) surveyed by XpertHR last fall reported that “hiring and recruiting” would be their biggest challenges in 2021, saying “attracting top talent” was their greatest concern (83%). For those that are equipped to do so, offering a variety of flexible work options may help to reel in those top hires. According to the Pulse survey, one-third (34%) of workers who said they plan to look for a new job post-pandemic said they want to find a job where they can work remotely.
HR professionals may need to convince skeptical executives of the changing tides in workspace expectations and the role flexibility will play not just in attracting new talent, but in keeping current workers. Notably, one-fifth (22%) of the Prudential survey respondents who said they planned to look for a new job said they’d rethink that decision if their current employer offered remote-work options.
With the pandemic resetting worker expectations and many workplaces shifting toward at least a hybrid model, HR leaders also will likely continue to focus on the same concerns accelerated by the pandemic even after it’s over: building and maintaining company culture, ensuring employees feel adequately trained on technology, and hiring for traits like independence and good stress management.