Digital HQs fundamental to making hybrid work successful, say UK workers

Business messaging app provider finds cost-of-living crisis is eased by hybrid work, but 66% of employees would look for a new job immediately or within three months if hybrid or remote working was not an option

Over the last two years, the case for hybrid working has almost been cemented within UK corporate bodies. Now research from business messaging app provider Slack has further revealed the need for hybrid work in today’s climate, including the cost-of-living crisis, how both virtual and in-person office etiquette has changed, with new workplace habits forming, and why businesses must operate in a digital-first way as a result.

The survey was conducted among 1,003 office workers in the UK and the interviews were conducted online by Sapio Research in July 2022 using an email invitation and an online survey.

The results revealed that almost three-quarters (73%) of office workers believe hybrid work is here to stay and 53% think businesses should operate on a digital-first approach. Spending more time at home is a must for most, with almost two-thirds (66%) likely to start looking for a new job if hybrid or remote working was not offered.

That is no surprise, with 70% believing that hybrid work has helped them with the cost-of-living crisis, with less being spent on transport and lunches. However, the report observed it was not just a case of location flexibility, but time too, with almost nine in 10 (86%) saying they would prefer to work more hours in fewer days – mirroring the growing popularity of the four-day working week in the UK. 

The research found that technology plays a defining role in creating a strong hybrid work environment. Some 84% of respondents said technology is enabling hybrid work, and has provided them with more location and time flexibility. As such, Slack proposed that the importance of a digital headquarters (HQ) that connects teams, tools, customers and partners all on one platform, has been established.

Almost three-quarters (74%) said a digital HQ was fundamental to making hybrid work a success, while 73% agreed that digital HQs could give businesses a competitive advantage.

In this new world of work, the research revealed that asynchronous work – where communication doesn’t need to happen in real time – was gaining popularity. Slack stressed that the benefits of asynchronous work could not be clearer, with many (69%) office workers claiming it gives them time to perfect ideas and responses before communicating, and 64% believing it maximises their productivity thanks to not having to wait for others to complete their tasks.

Asynchronous work was also said to save office workers an average of two hours 53 minutes a week by replacing real-time meetings. 

Read more about the new normal of work

The survey also suggested that the shift towards hybrid work and a digital-first approach for many businesses means the design and role of the physical office has changed. It reported that 72% had made changes to their office design and set-up to suit hybrid work.

It also found that work etiquette has changed, with a number of virtual or hybrid meeting habits irritating workers. One of the top annoyances was colleagues not going on mute during meetings, especially when they have background noise (38%).

Workers themselves have even admitted they have not fully readjusted, with 34% speaking to themselves out loud while in the office and the same number forgetting how to make small talk. 

“The way we work has changed, and we are never going back,” said Chris Mills, head of customer success, EMEA, at Slack. “That’s why all businesses should be introducing and prioritising a digital HQ. Companies that embrace a digital HQ and create an environment where culture can thrive for all employees are best placed to retain talent and thrive in 2022 and beyond.”

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