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WCI, Inc
April 9, 2021

Working From Home Drives Happiness

A majority of U.S. workers' job satisfaction is back to pre-pandemic levels, according to a new survey from Hibob. With ongoing remote work, the allowance of flexible work schedules, the ability to be autonomously productive, and time saved without a commute are contributing and shaping the next normal where a hybrid working model leads the way. The study also showed that with strong job satisfaction while remote, the rollout of the vaccine will not prompt employees to run back to the office five days a week. Some even say an obligation to return to a physical workspace would push them to look for a new job.

"There's been so much emphasis on the vaccine and a 'return to normalcy' that is supposed to restore happiness and business as usual. Many companies are failing to see the tremendous benefit that working from home has provided its people—flexibility, work/life balance, adjusted hours, and more time with family. Employees have established a strong rhythm with this structure, and it's going to be really hard to shock people back into the workplace 5 days a week just because they are vaccinated," says Hibob CEO Ronni Zehavi. "Not only has the virtual workplace changed, but the physical workplace will be taking on a new form as we ease back into socializing with others. We should not take a step backwards but instead, companies must create flexible, hybrid workplaces to keep their employees happy and engaged."

Job satisfaction tied to flexible work models. Hibob's study found that job satisfaction is back up to pre-pandemic levels as people have adjusted to the benefits of working from home.

  • When surveyed about overall job satisfaction, 62 percent of individual contributors, 66 percent of middle managers, and 79 percent of senior managers answered they were presently highly satisfied with their jobs. Similarly pre-pandemic, 68 percent of individual contributors, 68 percent of middle managers and 80 percent of senior managers reported being highly satisfied with their jobs.
  • Only 10 percent of employees surveyed want to return to the office full time, showing that flexibility to work from anywhere is key.
  • 73 percent of managers said two or three days in the office and the rest working from home would be the preferred hybrid work model, while 54 percent of individual contributors preferred either a flexible 2-3 days a week or an "at-will" hybrid model.

Additionally, data reveals parents and working females preferred working from home at higher rates, as it allows for more time with family and flexibility with childcare.

  • Women are enjoying working from home more than men; 65 percent of respondents who preferred a permanent five-day work from home model were female.
  • The survey found that 35 percent of senior managers enjoyed "flexibility with family time" as the best benefit to working from home, compared to 42 percent of individual contributors who felt that eliminating the commute was the biggest benefit.
  • Of parents with children under the age of 18, 84 percent found that benefits of a hybrid/remote work module outweighed the cons.
  • A forced return to work is a controversial idea, especially for working parents; employees with children are twice as likely to quit and look for a new opportunity if forced to return to an office full-time as those without children.

With a shift towards hybrid work, the office purpose has also changed -- it's evolving from an everyday work space to a place designated for socialization, collaboration, and company culture. Companies implementing hybrid models may use in-office time more for meetings, get-togethers, and onboarding, and less for individual work and clocking in and out. However, how it's viewed now differs for employees based on their roles.

  • Nearly one-third of individual contributors (30 percent) ranked socialization as the most important purpose of the office.
  • Managers felt that collaboration is the most important purpose of the physical office with 37 percent of senior managers and 36 percent of middle managers feeling this way.

Why vaccines might not be the workplace panacea. Data proves that flexibility is key to employee success. Even with vaccines helping mitigate safety concerns, they are not a reason for pushing fully in-person work 5 days a week given the proven success of hybrid.

  • Those in senior positions skewed more towards advocating for the vaccine and returning to the office. In fact, half of senior managers prefer to require all team members to get the vaccine before coming back to the office, whereas only 26 percent of individual contributors and middle managers feel this way.
  • More than half of individual contributors (58 percent) stated that they expect their company not to take any stance on people getting vaccinated.
  • In general, more men felt strongly that companies should require all employees to get vaccinated.

Vaccination expectations and protocol are going to be difficult to streamline and implement in a way that appeals to all employees Everyone has a different view on what should and shouldn't be allowed, and it's clear that a mandate won't placate employee concerns and offer the best solution for work/life balance and job satisfaction.

"Hibob's study proves again what we've already known—flexibility leads to productivity and employee happiness. While it may have taken a few months to adjust, the past year has shown that a combination of in-person and remote work has a broad appeal to employees of all job levels, genders, and parental standings. Companies need to realize that the next normal is here, and make sure their policies put people first and help them perform at their best," added Zehavi.

About the survey. The national survey was conducted online by Pollfish on behalf of Hibob on February 25, 2020. It includes responses from 1,000 full-time employees ages 25 and up in the United States.

From WCI's HR Answers Now ©2021 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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