As the United States tries to return to some semblance of normalcy post-pandemic, both workers and employers have been trying to figure out the most appropriate way to work. Some industries, like Wall Street, have required their bankers, brokers and traders to come back to their respective offices in New York City.
Some companies have elected a remote-first approach with no physical office locations at all. The tech sector has rallied around the hybrid work model, which involves having people return to an office only a couple of days out of the workweek.
Surveying How Generations Feel About The Hybrid Work Style
Mark Dixon, the CEO of IWG, best known for Regus, is the original pioneer of the co-working space. Dixon commissioned a study of over 1,000 Americans to find out how each generation feels about hybrid work.
The results of the study, by the world’s biggest provider of flexible workspaces, showed that Millennial hybrid workers are most likely (53%) to look for another job if their employers ceased hybrid working and wanted them back in the office.
Baby Boomer hybrid workers felt similar, but to a lesser extent compared to their young cohorts (33%). Gen-Z hybrid workers were the most likely to be ambivalent (40%). This could be because young adults are relatively new to the job market and don’t have much experience to compare and contrast work styles.
At a time when hybrid work is becoming mainstream, the findings reinforce how this new work environment impacts generations differently. There are also notable benefits regardless of age or where people are in their careers. Hybrid working has brought significant benefits, improving work-life balance for 62% of American hybrid workers, regardless of generation, as well as their productivity at home (48%), overall personal wellness (46%) and productivity at work (45%).
Workers Need A Reason To Go Back To An Office
In a wide-ranging conversation with Dixon, the CEO said there must be a solid value proposition to entice people to come into an office setting. One of the attractive elements of going into an office, especially if you live in a suburb and need to commute into a large crowded city, like New York, is to have an office close to your town. Your company could underwrite the costs, and you’ll be able to go into a co-working space for a few days a week. This offers the ability to see some of your colleagues and meet folks at different firms.
Dixon said that large city buildings can be retrofitted to look and feel like a cool, hip boutique hotel. There is ample room for meeting with co-workers to accommodate more of a company meetup, greet clients and also have a private room for you to concentrate and get into the flow.
Dixon, who has been in the real estate business for about three decades, gets that people are tired of being cooped up in their homes for the last two years.
It could serve as a relief to take a break from the kids, your partner, pets, the landscapers running their noisy leaf blowers, the hammering of construction workers on a couple of homes on your street, the doorbell incessantly ringing with your Amazon packages, Instacart and DoorDash food orders.
Commuting Is An Issue
After two years of not having to squander three hours on a roundtrip commute, there’s no interest in hopping back on a train or bus. You’d think that you should be awarded a degree in IT over the pandemic, but the internet still glitches out and you’re left alone to troubleshoot your laptop when it gets wonky. Having a local co-working space for a few days can come as a welcomed relief. If there are problems that arise, the location has the staff to take care of them for you.
One thing almost everyone shares in common is that people are not fans of long, torturous commutes. Baby Boomers (68%) and their younger Gen-X compatriots (63%) are motivated by the cost savings afforded by not having to constantly schlep into the office. Millennials, however, are concerned with having less stress in their lives and would rather not embark on aggravating commutes (49%).
Millennials (73%) self-reported that their career growth has benefited from working in a hybrid environment. Gen-Z hybrid workers are less likely to say their personal career growth has advanced from hybrid work (50%). Notably, hybrid work has benefited the career advancement of 74% of C-level hybrid workers.
The study took place before tech companies started laying off workers and enacting hiring freezes. U.S. employees expect to be compensated if asked to go back to the office daily. You have to wonder, if the economy and stock market keep sliding, people may not ask for transportation compensation, as they won’t want to rock the boat during an uncertain time period.
While Gen-Z and Millennials both feel strongly about a raise being necessary to compensate for a change to full-time, in-office work, they differ in the amount they would require from their employer. The majority of Millennials would expect more than a 10% raise and nearly half of Gen-Z would be likely to expect up to 10% raise to compensate for the change.
Wellness And Facetime
There seems to be a correlation between wellness and hybrid work. The hybrid work style has had a positive impact on employee well-being with all generations finding a connection between the two.
Going to the office daily isn’t required to form strong working relationships. Overwhelmingly, 93% of Americans said that you don’t need to see co-workers in person every day to form strong relationships. Unsurprisingly, it’s the most established workers that feel the strongest on the topic with 68% of Boomers saying up to two days together in the office are needed to form strong relationships.
Distilling The Results
Dixon said about the findings, “Hybrid working is universally popular amongst all generations who have been quick to embrace the many benefits the model offers.” He pointed out, “By splitting their time between home, a local workspace and their company headquarters, employees are benefiting from a significantly improved work-life balance with substantially less time and money spent on commuting.”
Dixon added, “The study highlights that there are important generational differences and one size doesn’t fit all; rather, there are many different flavors of hybrid working and the needs of employees will differ according to where they are in their careers and personal lives.”
In addition to the hybrid model, there are also compelling reasons for working remotely or returning to an office setting. For recent college graduates, going to an office might be the smart thing to do. You will be able to build a network that can last you throughout your career. There is a chance of finding a mentor who could offer their wisdom, guidance and advice.
With the recent downsizing and job cuts within the tech sector, concerns over job security arise. It may be advisable, even if it’s an inconvenience, to go into an office. A proximity bias exists. This term refers to the theory that if you are in front of or around people, they’ll become more fond of you. When it comes time to decide who may be laid off, the odds are high that the in-person worker who everyone knows and likes will remain, while the remote worker who was only seen on the occasional Zoom call would be selected for receiving a pink slip.
In large urban centers, such as New York City, there have been an alarming number of crimes and violence taking place. For many people, it is not worth the risk to go into the Big Apple and have to be concerned about their safety. Another deterrent from going into an office, even if it’s on a hybrid basis, is the long commute. For those who live in the suburbs of Manhattan, a daily roundtrip can take up to or more than three hours. If you take mass transit, the ticket prices are high and so are the food costs, once you’re in the city. People who prefer driving will spend a small fortune on gas, as prices have dramatically risen due to inflation.
A large number of people feel that there is a better quality of life working at home. You can spend time with your family and friends and attend all of the milestone events in your children’s lives. There is less stress without a commute and greater autonomy and freedom to structure your day. You’ll also have to take walks, exercise, contribute time to helping the community and engage in hobbies that you had to put off because you never had the time, until now.
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