According to the latest American Opportunity Survey from McKinsey, 58% of Americans are now working from home at least one day per week, while over a third are working from home up to five days per week. What makes these figures notable is that they include employees in all kinds of jobs, those traditionally labelled “blue collar” as well as “white collar” professions. But not everyone believes hybrid is the way forward. Is America is ready for the hybrid revolution?
A hybrid world
Since the start of the pandemic, workers have experienced every type of working model imaginable. Many switched to 100% remote working during the height of the pandemic, while most office workers now favor some ratio of home and office life.
Now, in a nation virtually free of COVID restrictions, hybrid working has become the favored option, with 91 per cent of the US workers working at least some of their hours remotely hoping the ability to work at home persists moving forwards.
Further evidence, this time from The Pulse of the American Worker Survey, found that 68% of American workers agree that the ability to work both remotely and on-site is the perfect work model. More specifically, the hybrid model of three days in the office and two days working from home is the most popular solution, according economic professor at Stamford University, Nicholas Bloom.
Has hybrid run its course?
Despite its popularity among the workforce, many businesses want workers to return to the office full-time. In fact, some report that it’s a near 50/50 split between those who are happy for hybrid to continue and those who plan to have workers back on-site, full-time, in the next year.
In recent months, the distaste some business leaders have for home working has been well documented. You probably saw that communication from Tesla boss Elon Musk, who demanded workers return to the office full-time or quit, while Goldman Sachs employees have already been told to return to the office full-time.
This executive-employee disconnect, as it’s been coined, is down to several causes, according to Brian Elliott, the Future Forum’s executive leader and business communication tool Slack senior vice president. Elliot believes that executives’ lives are simply not the same as those of their employees. They often have a better set-up at work with a private office and do not always experience the same childcare issues as many working parents face.
However, businesses may want to take note of how employees feel about returning to the office. A report from global analytics and advice firm Gallup found that three in 10 remote workers say that losing the option of working from home, would make them extremely likely to look for employment with another organization. This increases to 49%when factoring in those rating their chance of leaving four on the five-point likelihood scale.
Making the most of hybrid
While hybrid working still faces skepticism, the statistics speak for themselves. So, how can business leaders keep their employees happy, without the concern that they’re not productive at home?
One of the biggest remote working gripes is communication. Data collated in 2021 revealed that collaboration and communication are the biggest challenges for remote workers — as stated by 36% of survey respondents. Many communication failures don’t just result from people, but also from their access to effective communication tools.
Choosing a communication software that allows workers to log in from a range of devices gives employees the greatest possible degree of flexibility when joining video calls to select a device that suits their location. A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system can provide quick onboarding for hybrid workers and a reliable connection that is supported by internet connectivity and not a landline. Using this type of connection removes the cost of setting up multiple remote phone lines and means that employees can always remain connected, as the connection is not impacted by weather conditions, like a traditional landline
Investing in VoIP can make life easier in the long term. It eliminates ongoing manual tasks such as hiring engineers to install the system, waiting for deliveries of physical handsets, and setting up the equipment at home and having to invest in maintenance of the lines. With minimal disruption to get started, businesses can focus on important work, maintaining operational efficiency.
So, is America ready for hybrid working? The fact is that hybrid work is very much here, but it’s now a case of America maintains this model and makes sure it delivers value. With nearly all working Americans hoping for some form of hybrid work in the future, it’s crucial that businesses make sure they have the right technology set up in place. After all — a happy worker is a productive one.
Renaud Charvet, Ringover
Renaud Charvet is CEO of Ringover, a leader in cloud communications that seamlessly combines unlimited calling, group messaging and video conferencing into one easy-to-use app.