What does the future hold for remote workers? And what will post-pandemic workdays look like—back to the office, working from home or a hybrid? While the light at the end of the tunnel seems within reach, companies across the globe are scrambling to create the future workplace. One way to predict the future of work is to understand people’s remote work experiences over the last year. And based on recent reports, one thing is clear: remote work has left an impression. The Limeade Institute’s Employee Care Report 3.0 found that 100% of formerly onsite workers said they’re anxious about returning to the office, 71% said they were concerned about less flexibility and 77% said they’re worried about exposure to Covid-19.
Preference For Remote Work
FlexJobs ran a survey of more than 2,100 people who worked remotely during the pandemic from March 17, 2021 through April 5, 2021. They found that, not only do employees want remote work post-pandemic, 58% say they would absolutely look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely in their current position. Plus, 65% want to work remotely full-time post-pandemic, and another 33% prefer a hybrid work arrangement. Top concerns of returning to the office include Covid-19 exposure, less work flexibility and worse work-life balance. Some other top level findings include:
“I’m not surprised to see that more than half of people working remotely during the pandemic, even under these strained and unusual circumstances, appreciate its benefits to such a strong degree that they would leave their current jobs in order to keep working from home,” said Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “The landscape of remote work has permanently changed as a result of Covid-19, and its impact will be felt in the job market and the workplace well into the foreseeable future.”
Is Hybrid Work The Status Quo?
According to JLL’s Human Experience survey of 2,000-plus global office workers, the current crisis is forcing companies to decouple traditional work and work styles from the corporate office, and 66% of employees expect to work in a hybrid model post-pandemic. Companies like PwC, Microsoft and IBM are hedging their bets on long-term hybrid work models to satisfy employee demands for flexibility, but prioritizing mental health and wellness will also be critical to appease new workforce priorities in the office of the future.
I spoke with Cynthia Kantor, Chief Product Officer of Corporate Solutions at JLL, a Fortune 500 company with revenues of $16.6 billion in over 80 countries. Kantor spoke about how employers can ensure a future hybrid workplace with wellness in mind. According to her, three out of four employees expect health and well-being perks post-pandemic, and 72% favor work/life balance over securing a comfortable salary (69%) in terms of post-pandemic importance. “As vaccination rates continue to climb across the country, it feels like we’re finally starting to turn a corner on better times,” Kantor said, “however, the mental health toll of the past year can’t be underestimated and employee health and well-being needs to continue to be front of mind as companies plan their return to the office.”
The Human Experience Report revealed that workers say the Covid-19 pandemic has been the most stressful time in their careers—more so than even the Great Recession (69%). According to Kantor, “As hybrid work quickly becomes the new normal—with 66% of employees expecting to work in a hybrid model post-pandemic—companies will need to be bold and proactive in re-imagining their workplaces, both physical and remote, to support employee health and well-being in the future.”
Responding to the very real dilemma that employees are not feeling their best due to a more distant connection to the office culture when working remotely, one of JLL’s bold moves, according to Kantor, is the launch of Experience/Anywhere designed to seamlessly connect employees across the office, at home or anywhere that work happens. “This includes ‘The Hub,’” she said, “a digital portal that integrates directly with employees’ calendars to block time for micro-habits to combat work-stressors felt throughout the day, providing customized on-demand well-being services like yoga and meditation that match each individual’s interests and needs.”
I am the author of 40 nonfiction books, including #CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow) and the long-selling CHAINED TO THE DESK: A GUIDEBOOK