After getting a taste of remote work and hybrid work environments, many employees are not eager to return to a pre-pandemic 5-day workweek and completely give up the aspects that improved their quality of life and work/life balance.
But as the world has now “reopened for business”, we look at how the workplace has transformed and what it will look like moving forward for both workers and employers.
The Flexible Workplace is Here to Stay
For knowledge workers, some variation of a remote and hybrid work structure is likely to become the standard in 2023 and in the coming years.
According to a 2022 survey by McKinsey and Ipsos, 58% of Americans were allowed to work remotely at least one day a week, and 38% were not required to come to the office at all. Though the biggest discovery from the survey revealed when workers had the chance, 87% chose to work from home over the office.
Post-pandemic employee expectations for more hybrid work models will impact how companies approach the workplace. Non-flexible work arrangements are now a dealbreaker for many workers.
For companies to attract and retain top talent, remote work possibilities need to be on the negotiating table as workers increasingly look for positions that offer flexible models.
The Four-Day Workweek
The idea of the four-day workweek has been floating around since the 1970s, and in recent years, many countries, including England, Belgium, Sweden, and Iceland have tested out the concept. In 2023, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and areas in the US like Maryland, along with several individual companies, will be adopting the shorter workweek.
Workers taking part in a four-day workweek trial reported less stress and less burnout, and better physical health. In the United Kingdom, a pilot program led by 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit that supports the four-day workweek, also saw great success. Over 90% of the participating companies decided to permanently adopt a four-day workweek.
Companies who switch to a four-day workweek expect employees to maintain the same workload and receive the same salary as they did working a five-day workweek.
New Challenges in Security & Productivity
The work-from-home model presents companies with potential security complications. For those working with sensitive data or information, taking it home and working on a personal computer could result in a security risk for the company.
Monitoring Employee Productivity
Another challenge for companies is monitoring employee productivity, walking the fine line between ensuring workers stay on task and invading an employee’s privacy. While a number of studies show remote work and workplace flexibility increase worker happiness and lead to higher productivity, outdated approaches and ideas surrounding working from home have led to more employee tracking software and monitoring. Companies will need to work with their employees to find a balance, ensuring any workplace monitoring doesn’t get out of hand.
Pre-pandemic, a Gensler Workplace Survey revealed that workplace effectiveness was in decline and those with unassigned seating struggled the most. Workers who didn’t have their own space and privacy saw their productivity decline.
And now, post-pandemic, remote workers want to maintain the privacy and dedicated workspace they have grown accustomed to while working from home. In fact, according to a two-year study conducted by Great Place to Work, the transition to remote work during the pandemic resulted in an average increase of 6% in worker productivity.
Offering Perks & Incentives
Companies asking employees to return to the office will likely need to offer workers additional benefits.
According to a ResumeBuilder.com survey of 1,000 business leaders, 88% of companies are offering incentives to encourage employees to return to the office, including catered meals, commuter benefits, and better pay.
Additional perks companies may offer are:
- Flexibility around childcare
- Parental leave
- Educational opportunities related to their position
- Increased vacation days
- Commuter benefits
- Support around physical and mental health
And as inflation and higher living costs continue, increased pay will likely be the most influential incentive for employees.
New York City and Colorado already have laws surrounding pay transparency, requiring companies to disclose salary ranges in job descriptions, significantly decreasing pay discrimination and allowing potential employees to better discern if the position is a good fit.
Workplace Trends Moving Forward
While new values are entering the workplace, and many (especially younger generations) employees will be asking for more benefits and a flexible workplace, the same ResumeBuilder.com survey reported 90% of companies will require employees to return to office in 2023, meaning nine in ten companies will require employees to be in the office with some frequency.
Even as more companies require workers to come into the office, they will likely operate on a hybrid model as 74% of companies still plan to hire remote workers, allowing employees to continue enjoying the benefits of remote work.