Local Response | Adaptive Spaces, Evolving Workforces
How is Hybrid Working Contributing to Employee Satisfaction?
March 14, 2023
Many major corporates are facing the challenge of introducing or refining new working arrangement policies that must fulfil multiple objectives. These might include raising office occupancy, ensuring sufficient interpersonal contact and collaboration, and protecting company culture. But it also includes understanding and satisfying employee aspirations, or at least not hindering them. Some may feel that they don’t need to acquiesce fully to employee requirements, but in a tight labour market, few would want to ignore them completely.
But what do these preferences actually look like? CBRE’s Global Live-Work-Shop survey canvassed the views of over 20,000 people to understand their take on the changing world of work. A key finding was that flexibility – in many forms – is a highly regarded commodity. Understanding its various elements, and seeking to incorporate them into hybrid working policies, should therefore be a priority area for corporates.
Firstly, flexibility is a key factor in job selection decisions, particularly flexibility about when and where work takes place. Around 40% of respondents globally, and the same proportion in Europe, highlighted these aspects as primary factors in assessing job opportunities, while a company’s commitment to work-life balance was also important. Providing an appropriate level of flexibility in working arrangements is a key component of a company’s Employee Value Proposition and ability to compete for new talent. It is also notable that, for Gen Z respondents, learning and development opportunities ranked slightly higher than flexibility as job choice elements – these also need to be part of the offer to that cohort.
Primary factors in assessing future job opportunities: Total compensation most important job selection factor, but aspects of work-life balance play an increasing role
Source: CBRE Research, 2022
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the experience of working flexibly has generated positive consequences for workers across several areas such as wellbeing, productivity and connectivity. Significant numbers, around 40-50%, of European respondents stated that the flexibility gained from remote or hybrid work improved their own and their team’s productivity, their own work-life balance and levels of job satisfaction, and their perceived connectedness to both their immediate teams and the wider organisation.
% who agree with the following statement
Source: CBRE Research, 2022
Thirdly, there are both positive and negative reasons for organisations to weigh these findings in their decision-making. The positive angle is that half of respondents, and more than half of remote and hybrid workers, reported an increased level of trust in their employer compared with pre-pandemic levels This suggests that there is a position of strength to build from. Less positively, nearly half of respondents indicated that they were more likely to leave their current job if they become dissatisfied, so there is an incentive for organisations to get this right.
Fourthly, the desire for flexibility - as represented by hybrid or remote working - also appears to be permanent. The proportion of European workers who want to work solely from the office falls from 37% currently to around 21% in the future. And the number wanting to work as “predominantly remote” rises from 17 to 29%.
Current and future split between office and home working
Source: CBRE Research, 2022
This does not mean that companies should abandon attempts to encourage workers back to the office or to seek to boost occupancy levels. Many regard this as a priority and the survey findings support this. Nearly 90% of European respondents stated that they want to spend at least some of their working time in the office, but only 21% want to be office-based all the time.
Striking a balance
So how can CRE leaders balance these different aspects? In an environment where company leaders are concerned about potential loss of connectivity and challenged by the complexities of designing an optimal solution, it appears that hybrid working is better for connection than either being fully remote or fully office-based.
Employee discussions held to understand this research revealed that many participants believed that the informality and insight into personal lives that come with hybrid working helps you see the person you work with as a “whole human” rather than just a colleague. The sharing of personal stories that is almost necessitated when a child, pet or neighbour interrupts a call, helps people become closer than they would if they met as colleagues at the office café. Hybrid seems to be an unexpected gift for team leaders if they can harness it.
There are various mechanisms being used or considered for incentivising office attendance. These range from a traditional approach of more enticing food and beverage, or on-site events; to the more advanced, such as childcare facilities on-site, or pet care allocations; to the truly radical such as beekeeping, or sensory deprivation pods. This is consistent with the finding that nearly two-thirds of European respondents attached more importance to the overall quality of their working environment than they used to, with hybrid and remote workers most likely to hold this view.
However, not all companies are seeing the benefits of hybrid. Many are still trying to define the degree of flexibility that should be provided, how it will be managed and most importantly, how they will help people thrive in this setting. For example, only a quarter of Financial Services and Professional Services companies have an in-place blanket policy for hybrid working, and over 10% have no policy at all.
Companies must take conscious action to see the benefits of hybrid working. Attention needs to be paid to the organisational infrastructure required to deliver hybrid working effectively. Many companies have dedicated leaders to support the adoption of this way of working. This responsibility can be taken on by either a dedicated Head of Hybrid or an HR leader. Whoever undertakes it should be aware, that, with the right set up, hybrid can be an unexpected gift for connection, collaboration and innovation.
Read our Global Live-Work-Shop Report to find out more.