As we enter 2022, it’s evident that both the standard work environment and employee perspectives on work have shifted dramatically over the past few years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within only the first three weeks of Mar. 2020, the percentage of white-collar employees working remotely doubled from 31% to 62% according to Gallup research. When asked about preferences, 59% of these employees stated that they would like to continue working remotely as much as possible.
Halfway through 2021, additional polling discovered that about 72% of employees who typically work in an office were performing their jobs from home at least some of the week. These statistics vary by job role, with the highest proportion of remote work reported in the computer/technology (86%), physical and social sciences (86%), arts and media (81%), and financial and consulting (80%) fields.
At the conclusion of 2021, strategicHR published the Generations at Work report in which they shared insights about the different generations’ perspectives on work location and productivity throughout the second year of the pandemic. The most notable statistics showed a slight preference for having the option to work from home in the majority of the surveyed generations, with Gen X and Gen Y having the strongest preference (63% and 64%).
When asked about productivity levels in a remote setting, many within each generational group reported that their productivity stayed the same as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic or even slightly improved. Additionally, more than half of each group (55% - 60%) reported seeing an increase in effective collaboration in their remote setting vs. their previous in-office setting.
The Importance of Flexibility
As for the future of remote work in 2022, Gallup predicts that 37% of desks that would have been normally filled in 2019, will be empty as the shift to remote work continues throughout this year. Many factors contribute to this estimate, primarily the finding that 60% of employees prefer a hybrid work environment, where they come into the office for 2 to 3 days and work remotely for the remainder of the week.
Gallup also reported recently that 54% of employees working remotely wish to have a hybrid schedule, and 37% wish to be completely remote. Around 3 in 10 employees even reported that they would seek other job opportunities if their company removed the option of remote work entirely. These shifts surrounding work location and employee perspectives, mean that there is an undeniable need for flexibility among employers. As we enter the new year, it’s vital that employers are open, adaptable, and flexible in order to maintain a happy and dedicated workforce.