Nearly 90% of companies to remain open in 2022, Density study showed.
For all the debate around hybrid work schedules and remote work, one study finds that most employers continue to embrace a traditional approach to work, with two-thirds (63%) of large companies remaining open throughout the pandemic and more than half of all companies (59%) neither closing during the pandemic nor offering any hybrid working option (55%).
This is in addition to 88% of companies saying that they are keeping their offices open in 2022, with only 10% limiting the number of employees allowed back at one time.
Density, an analytics platform for measuring workplace performance, commissioned the survey and study with YouGov, which was conducted in mid-December.
Of course, this is one data point in a sea of data that is emerging about the future of work. Another point, just to highlight the wide range of views on the subject, comes from a new survey by CoreNet Global that found that 57% of corporate real estate professionals said their companies were using anywhere from the same amount of space to up to 20% less than in March 2020. Another 28% were using between 20% to 30% less space, while 15% had taken on more.
The Density survey makes it loud and clear how employees feel about traditional office work schedules. When asked about the quality valued most in a hybrid workplace, more than half of employees (57%) said a flexible work schedule. This is especially true of employees (59%) at large-scale companies (500–999 employees). The study also showed that one in three employees (32%) want the flexibility to choose where they work day-to-day, despite 39% saying they were working full time from the office.
Employees Need a Reason to Return
But even companies that plan to forge ahead with return-to-office policies should have a plan in place on how to communicate that decision with workers. It also wouldn’t hurt to sweeten the directive with an emphasis on safety and comfort. Michael Casolo, Chief Revenue Officer at Unispace, tells GlobeSt.com that companies that focus only on return-to-office policies miss the point: Employees will need to want to come back to the office, and there has to be a reason to come back to the office.
“To entice them, the office has to be something new, because the way we now work has evolved to be something very different to what it was pre-pandemic.”
He said that there has been no other time in the history of work where so much has changed in a two-year period, and forming return-to-office policies thinking that employees can come back without missing a beat is unrealistic.
“Increasingly, our clients are looking for ways to experiment and innovate in their workspace to quickly incorporate elements of comfort, safety and collaboration,” Cosolo said.
The Before, After and In-Between Meetings
Steelcase started working in a hybrid way in early 2021 and has been able to safely continue with that strategy despite the virus waves, Donna Flynn, VP of Global Talent at the company, tells GlobeSt.com.
“We’re back in the office because we believe we work better when we’re together—it’s what builds our communities of belonging and helps us make meaningful progress. Together doesn’t necessarily happen over video—it’s the before, after and in between meetings that we continue to learn from one another.”
Steelcase also recognizes the risk and varying comfort levels that have accompanied the pandemic and believes in empowering employees to choose what the best place to work is for them, which may change from day to day, she said.
“We continue to move forward empathetically, recognizing everyone is tired from the constant adaptation and challenges brought by the pandemic. We trust they make the right decisions for their work and for their physical and mental wellbeing as well as that of their households.”