- Innovation was a top-cited reason for bringing employees back to the office in a VMWare survey of 5,300 HR, IT and business decision makers; that finding comes despite employers saying they recognize the positive effects of remote and hybrid work on employee sentiment.
- About two-thirds of leaders said their organizations were more innovative when employees were in the office, yet 82% said they had higher job satisfaction when they were able to work from anywhere. More than half of those with flexible work policies said they saw increased morale, creativity and collaboration within their teams compared to pre-pandemic.
- “With growing economic uncertainty, business leaders could be driving employees back into the office with hope that it will enable greater employee innovation and productivity, but with little certainty on its real benefit,” VMWare said in a Nov. 29 press release accompanying the survey results. It noted that companies with flexible work policies were more likely than their office-only counterparts to have formal metrics in place for measuring innovation.
After a period of general consensus around the role of flexibility in the future of work, more than a few high-profile organizations have sought to bring back a taste of pre-pandemic life.
Some, like Bank of America, have required senior leaders and other positions that require in-office work to be based entirely in an office, while allowing for some flexibility where appropriate. Others, like Twitter, have rolled back remote work entirely with very limited exceptions.
Yet mandates alone may not be enough to restore what made offices effective more than two years ago. A study earlier this year conducted by Advanced Workplace Associates found that, among organizations mandating two days per week in an office, employees only showed up in person 1.1 days per week on average.
Even HR staff appear to view hybrid work in a mostly positive light, according to an IWG survey published last month. The workspace provider found that 55% of organizations were using hybrid arrangements to help workers with child care concerns, a key factor in voluntary turnover. Most respondents also said hybrid options were an effective recruiting tool.
The benefits of flexibility are not necessarily universal, however. A November Unit4 survey found that 62% of organizations said they have had inadequate tools to support flexible work, which some said led to turnover as employees looked for better flexible options elsewhere.
In-person gatherings and events can still hold value, even for organizations that went entirely remote during the pandemic. But HR and leadership teams may need to be intentional about how and why they decide to bring employees together, sources previously told HR Dive.