Flexible Work Hours Surpass Remote Work As Employee Priority

Data collected in November 2021 from a survey of more than 10,000 knowledge workers offers a snapshot of just how popular hybrid arrangements have become. In the survey, about 95% of people want flexible hours, compared with 78% of workers who want location flexibility. Many people would rather work whenever they can than at home or in an office. The survey also found that 72% of workers who were not happy with their level of flexibility, time, or location, are more likely to seek out a new opportunity in the next year.

Many employers have reluctantly embraced long-term hybrid and remote work arrangements after repeatedly postponing return-to-office dates or finding that workers pushed back on going to the office. That has some executives thinking differently about in-person arrangements. Some employers believe that their workers should meet in person only for necessities. Employers are also seeing agreements between team members about when people in the group will work are growing in popularity. Many also believe flexible schedules are likely to endure beyond the pandemic.

The Future Forum survey, which was conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30, also found that the share of people working in hybrid models, where they split their time between an office and a remote location, increased by 12 percentage points since May, as more workers have returned part-time to their traditional workplaces. More than two-thirds of those surveyed said a hybrid setup was their preferred working method. Many workers have found their productivity surged while working from home, and they achieved the work-life balance they had been seeking. 

While many large companies have decided that most of their employees will combine remote work with in-office days, hybrid work has downsides. Executives have growing concerns that hybrid work could increase inequity among rank-and-file employees, especially women, working mothers, and people of color, who said they were more likely to prefer flexible arrangements when surveyed. Among executives surveyed, 71% said they work in the office at least three days a week; 63% of non-executive employees said they go in just as often. Executives working remotely were far more likely than non-executives to say they wanted to work at least three days a week in the office. Some employers have concerns about large meetings since it will be harder to conduct if some people are in the office and some are remote. Many people inside companies complain about the lack of energy in the workplace when it is sparsely populated. Forcing a one-size-fits-all solution across a large workforce can also seem risky to managers.

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