Even though the great hybrid work experiment is not yet in full swing, we may already be witnessing a shift in the balance of power between employers and employees.
Emphasis on “may,” because the fact is, we simply don’t know which way that shift will go.
What employees want vs. what employers want
A recent PwC report, It's Time to Reimagine Where and How Work Will Get Done, describes the mismatch between senior management and employee expectations.
According to the report, 55% of employees say they prefer to stay home 3 days a week. Meanwhile, 68% of executives say they want employees to come into the office 3 days a week. Granted, it’s only a difference of a day, but think how far we’ve come since pre-covid days. Back then, everybody agreed that work happens at the office, 5 days a week. Less than two years later, the bulk of employees are saying they only sort of agree with that scheme.
Is it the demands of caretaking for kids and parents that drives this desire for hybrid work? Perhaps, but even Gen Z – at this point less likely to have kids at home – wants to go hybrid. A survey by Tallo, a talent development platform, found that 63% of these younger workers were most interested in working in a hybrid setting, with only 27% wanting to work in the office full time.
What’s at stake?
Combine the above findings with this little tidbit from Eagle Hill Consulting: that more than half of employees plan on getting a new job in 2021. According to the consulting firm’s president and CEO, employers are facing a “talent tsunami” and had better act quickly. Some have dubbed this impending onslaught of quit notices the "Great Resignation."
Is it true? Can companies expect a major reshuffling of talent in the next year? Think about your company. Which employees do you imagine are most likely to shop around for a better deal? Which ones are most likely to stay? As in all talent wars, the most skilled and sought after employees know their value because they’re constantly hounded by recruiters. How long before a recruiter calls with a job that pays better and offers more work freedom than your company?
Freedom: more valuable than money?
As employees reconsider their employment options, workplace freedom is a major factor. Having enjoyed 15 months of autonomy during the pandemic, it seems many employees are reluctant to let go of that freedom. According to a study by WeWork and Workplace Intelligence, 75% of employees are willing to give up at least one benefit or perk for the freedom to choose their work environment. The survey even showed that employees valued workplace freedom over health care coverage, bonus and PTO.
Even cold hard cash appears to be less coveted than workplace freedom. A survey of 30,000 Americans showed that job hunters would consider a 5% to 10% pay cut if they’re allowed to work remotely. Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom, one of the authors of the study wrote, “…firms not offering a couple of days a week WFH will have to compensate their employees with significantly higher pay to stop them quitting. If firms really hate WFH, they can pay their employees 8% more to keep them -- but if they don't, they should expect to see rising quit rates.”
What’s an employer to do?
While some financial services firms have outright rejected hybrid work, the reality is that most companies will adopt some form of it. Of course, the details will vary, but if prospective employees want to switch jobs, they shouldn’t have trouble finding a company that offers some flexibility.
If everyone’s hybrid or kinda hybrid, then how will employees decide between competitive offers? We posit that two factors will come into play:
- Number of flexible days - If 3 flex days per week is better than 2, then 5 flex days per week beats all. “Work from anywhere” will be the trump card that companies will play in order to interest top talent. Added bonus: by going fully flexible – in other words going fully remote – companies will in effect expand their search footprint from local to global, which will result in significantly more qualified candidates.
- Workspace alternatives - One thing that gets missed in discussions of hybrid work is that even though employees want to ditch the commute, that doesn’t mean that working at home has been a bowl of cherries. Fortunately, a massive network of flexible workplaces (i.e., coworking) are already in place and available for employees who need a professional work environment close to home. Employers who subsidize employee access to these workplaces will have an edge in recruitment and retention. Employers who help employees find, book and make the most of these workspaces will have an even greater edge.
LiquidSpace Enterprise is the industry’s only enterprise-grade workplace management platform. It lets employers empower their employees to work from anywhere. It’s a single platform that gives employees the freedom to choose where and with whom they’ll work – whether that’s at HQ or close to home – while giving employers visibility and control over workplace quality, cost and amenities. Learn more and request a demo at LiquidSpace.com/enterprise.