Hybrid working has become the top preference for workers in 2022, according to research from workplace platform provider Envoy, with flexibility empowering workers and keeping them happy. However, despite the spread of Omicron, 73% of UK workers would choose to work in the office most of the time.
Envoy partnered with Sapio Research to survey 1,000 full-time UK adult employees over the age of 18 who have returned to the office at least one day a week. Survey responses were collected in December 2021, during the Omicron surge.
The report revealed that given the option, most UK knowledge workers prefer to work from the office in some capacity. Of the workers who have returned to the office, more than half (57%) would choose a hybrid work model, splitting work between in-office and home. Meanwhile, 38% indicated they preferred to work in-office full-time, and only 5% want to work remotely all the time.
In contrast, an overwhelming majority of workers (73%) want to work in the office100% or most of the time, demonstrating that the workplace experience is better than many expected, according to Envoy.
People working for smaller companies were more likely to want to go into the office five days a week (42%), compared with those working for companies with more than 1,000 employees (31%). Of those who prefer hybrid work, 61% chose Wednesday as their go-to office day, followed by Tuesday (57%).
Schedule flexibility was the top reason as to what makes workers happy and increases employee retention. Some 30% of respondents said they wanted the freedom to choose which days to come in. A very close second is hybrid work options (29%). Flexible work options were found to be just as important as traditional benefits, such as matching pension and paid holiday leave or therapy and mental health days (29%).
The biggest return-to-work deal-breakers are long or expensive commutes (35%), a disregard for Covid safety precautions (31%), no flexibility in work hours or days spent in the office (28%), and dealing with challenging or chatty coworkers (21%).
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Some 12% have no dealbreakers, while two-fifths of older workers (55 to 64-year-olds) are concerned about lax safety protocols, compared with only 29% of their younger counterparts (25 to 34-year-olds).
“The numbers show that folks are aching for community and want to come back to the workplace,” said Larry Gadea, CEO and founder of Envoy. “And once they go back, they like it. The draw is the in-person interaction that makes socialising and work collaboration so much easier.
“They want their autonomy, too,” he said. “They want control over when and how they work. When you think about creating a great workplace that people love, we’re more than halfway there. We know what employees want – and how to make their experience better. We just need to do it.”