During the early days of the Pandemic, the narrative was that young workers were stuck in cramped apartments and seniors were happy in airy home offices. The superiors of the juniors were more focused on how to spend the savings from fewer train tickets than on in-person learning.
The attitudes to remote working are not all that different from each other.
The majority of office workers value the chance to work from home at least one day a week. It’s not large or consistent enough to make a difference.
If your employer doesn’t offer a hybrid work arrangement, you’re more likely to leave than if you do, according to a recent study by McKinsey.
More nuanced findings are presented in the larger Survey of Working arrangements and attitudes. If their employer denied them hybrid working, workers in their 20s were most likely to start looking for a new job. Over-50s were more likely to quit. Older workers may have an eye on retirement, while younger workers may have itchier feet.
A lot is dependent on how you ask it. People in their 30s will give the highest value to the option of a pay rise for two or three days, if they are invited to think of it. It’s the over-50s who want the biggest pay rise, so ask what pay rise would be needed to work five days a week.
It is important to point out that support for a hybrid arrangement is high. The most cited benefit of remote working is reduced commute time. Younger workers may feel the hit of transport costs on their disposable income more acutely; the more central parts of public transport networks are often the most crowded. The younger generation has had a couple years to get used to co-working and negotiating with housemates.
What does this mean for the workplace? Due to the tight labor market and the need to attract up-and-coming talent, most large firms will continue to offer the option of at least some remote working. The long-term impact of this shift is unknown at this time.
The loss of on-the-job learning should be a concern. Less knowledge transfer between generations and weaker internal relationships can be caused by lower office occupancy. The ability to attract talent can be seen as a source of competitive advantage, as well as sources of competitive advantage. Culture is the reason why things go wrong at companies.
Even if activity can be neatly divided into solo tasks best done remotely and collaborative tasks best done in the office, something inevitably gets lost in the divorce – learning by imitation and the ability to tap on a coworker’s metaphorical open door. These benefits don’t disappear with hybrid working.
Employers will be expected to offer a hybrid option while encouraging use of the office. Flexible working hours could help on this front by avoiding peak travel times and dealing with non-work commitments. According to a survey of London workers by King’s College London, the ability to manage domestic and social responsibilities is the second-biggest reason thatWFH is attractive. The salary negotiations may become more explicit aboututing costs.
The prevalence of distraction and the drawbacks of office work should be considered by companies. People will be given more room in future offices of Google. Corporate tenants are looking for higher-quality space in prime locations. In central London, the vacancies for top-grade offices were 4% compared to 8% for the whole of the UK. A building in London’s financial district was pre-let by British Land four years ahead of schedule.
It will take time to upgrade the offices of the world’s major cities for the post-pandemic era. The hybrid experiment is going to have plenty of time to show results, unless attitudes change or the balance of power between employers and employees changes.