- Eight in 10 remote-capable employees expect some long-term flexibility
- For highly collaborative work, being on-site three days is optimal for employee engagement
- The person who determines your hybrid approach is as important as the approach itself
As employees return to the office from their pandemic-induced remote work arrangements, they are quickly discovering that life at work is very different and may never be the same.
For one thing, remote work flexibility seems to be quickly becoming a permanent feature of the workweek for most employees working remote-capable jobs, as nine in 10 prefer some degree of long-term remote flexibility going forward and nearly eight in 10 expect it from their employer going forward.
Given this transformation in where and how remote-capable employees work, the next big concern becomes how to best coordinate hybrid work schedules with employees who are dividing their time between remote work settings and the office.
Naturally, hybrid work allows employees the flexibility to work in ways that are best for them individually. Although, unless hybrid work is well-coordinated, it can potentially create barriers to teamwork and organizational culture because people are often apart from one another.
The long-term implications of various policies, schedules and practices are unknown. But data collected in 2022 gives us the opportunity to begin studying what is and isn't working.
Using a nationally representative dataset of 8,090 remote-capable U.S. employees, Gallup explored the experiences of hybrid workers in today's work environment.
In this study, we examined current hybrid work policies, how they are affecting employees, and what employees want going forward. Gallup specifically sought to answer the following five questions:
- How many days per week are hybrid employees working on-site and how many do they prefer?
- Which days of the week are most popular for on-site work?
- How many days per week on-site are optimum?
- Which hybrid work policies are being implemented?
- Who should set hybrid work policies?
Insight No. 1:
How many days per week are hybrid employees working on-site and how many do they prefer?
The current state:
Hybrid workers vary widely in how many days they typically work from the office:
- one-third are on-site one day per week
- one-third are on-site two to three days per week
- one-third are on-site four days per week
Preferences for time spent on-site also widely vary with the nuance that very few want to work on-site four or more days per week:
- Only 12% of hybrid employees want to spend four or five days on-site in the typical week.
- Of the 88% of hybrid workers who prefer three days or fewer on-site, slightly more prefer two days on-site (29%) compared with one (19%) or three (22%) days on-site.
Notably, employee preferences for how often they work at the office are shockingly similar across roles:
Insight No. 2:
Which days of the week are most popular for on-site work?
Fridays and Mondays are the least popular days to be on-site both in terms of voluntary attendance and employer-required days on-site.
- The daily mood shift from Sunday to Monday is the starkest in Gallup's historical tracking. So it's no surprise that Monday is a less popular day to be on-site than Tuesday through Thursday.
- In contrast, Fridays are decisively the most popular day to work from home so employees can focus on wrapping up their work assignments and quickly transition to their weekend plans.
Tuesday through Thursday are the days of the week hybrid employees work on-site most often and are also the days when on-site work is most likely to be required by employers.
Insight No. 3:
How many days per week on-site are optimal?
Working two to three days in the office each week tends to be optimal for employee engagement, but it's not a universal solution.
The "right number" of days on-site varies greatly by job and type of collaboration each role demands.
- Independent roles where most work activities are completed individually and asynchronously -- that is, primarily done separately from others, then brought together -- tend to benefit from two to three "collaboration days on-site" each week.
- More collaborative roles naturally require more time working together interdependently, and the relationship between days on-site and employee engagement was even more pronounced for this group. Employees in highly collaborative roles had much higher employee engagement when they worked on-site three days per week.
Notably, job requirements vary greatly by role and team, and hybrid work is a relatively new concept for most people. At this point, we would advise teams requiring significant "real-time" (synchronous) collaboration to discuss when and how much time on-site is most effective for them.
Requiring a set number of days on-site relates to lower employee engagement:
- The optimal number of days on-site disappears entirely when being on-site is "required" by the employer.
- Hybrid employees who are not required to be at the office currently have higher engagement and are more likely to believe their organization cares about their wellbeing. These hybrid workers also have lower burnout and say they are less likely to leave their organization in the near future than those who have requirements to be on-site a set number of days.
Insight No. 4:
Which hybrid work policies are being implemented?
What's the policy? Three of the most common hybrid policies:
- 29% say their employer requires office attendance on specific days of the week (e.g., Tuesday through Thursday)
- 28% say their employer requires a minimum number of days on-site (e.g., one to four days per week), but doesn't specify which days are required
- 43% say there are no universal on-site work requirements set by the employer
- 57% of hybrid employees say their employer sets office attendance rules -- about half of those with attendance rules are required to be on-site a specific number of days and half are required to be on-site on specific days of the week (i.e., Tuesday through Thursday)
- 43% of employees report that their employer does not require a minimum number of days on-site
The most preferred and the most engaging policy:
- Many hybrid workers (60%) do not want their employer to set a universal scheduling policy.
- Employee engagement is highest among hybrid workers when their company does not require a certain number of days on-site.
Insight No. 5:
Who should set hybrid work policies?
The type of policy being set today is one thing -- who determines and adjusts your personal work schedule going forward is even more important.
Required attendance policies for hybrid workers are decided by:
- top leadership of the organization (26%)
- team managers (24%)
- work teams (13%)
- entirely on my own (37%)
The most engaging approach is the least common:
- An astounding 46% of hybrid employees are engaged at work when their team determines their hybrid work policy -- despite only 13% of employees saying their team does this.
- Employee input is notoriously effective, from collaborative goal setting to innovation -- and now in determining hybrid work schedules.
- The practice of asking team members to collaboratively craft their hybrid work policy is one of the most engaging single work practices Gallup has studied among employees who are returning to the office.
How much are remote-capable workers willing to give up for remote work flexibility?
Remote flexibility has become an expectation. Remote-capable employees will change their jobs for it, but they aren't willing to give up more salary in exchange.
The Discoveries Continue:
The hybrid work experience is here to stay. Its effects on important organizational outcomes will continue to emerge over time. Gallup will continue to study and post timely insights to inform leaders about emerging best practices to create high engagement, retention and wellbeing (reduced burnout). Inevitably, every organization -- and teams within organizations -- will need to adopt practices that are aimed at high individual performance, team collaboration, and customer value.
Determine the details of your hybrid work strategy:
- Read A Guide to Hybrid Working and Managing Remote Teams.
- Discover what remote-capable employees want in terms of where they work.
- Contact us to help connect employee engagement to your hybrid work strategy.