SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Future foruma consortium launched by Soft with founding partners Boston Consulting Group, MillerKnoll and TLM to help companies rethink working in the new digital workplace, today released key findings from its latest overall pulse studywhich shows that employees continue to want flexibility, both in terms of workplace and work schedule, and that they are willing to change jobs to better control where and when they work.
The Future Forum Pulse is a quarterly survey of over 10,000 knowledge workers in the United States, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. The data shows that full-time office workers report significantly lower employee experience scores than hybrid and full-time remote workerswhile the number of knowledge workers who want to work full-time in the office has fallen to 20%, the lowest point in two years of the survey.
“Today’s work environment is all about flexibility, and employees without it remain at high risk of attrition,” said Brian Elliott, executive director of Future Forum. “Companies looking to build productive, high-performing teams need to think about how they provide flexibility, not just in where but also when people work.”
This summer snapshot of the Future Forum’s latest global Pulse survey answers key questions business leaders ask as they navigate how to implement flexible working policies and create a workplace where all employees can flourish:
Where do people work?
The trend of knowledge workers being drawn back into the physical office continued this quarter. Thirty-four percent of knowledge workers report working full-time from the office, a continuation of the record set in February 2022.
The number of people working in a hybrid arrangement increased by four percentage points, from 45% to 49%, while the number of people working full-time remotely increased from 21% to 18%.
How do people feel at work?
The preference for flexible working reached an all-time high this quarter, with 55% of knowledge workers preferring to work less than three days a week in the office. Full-time office workers are the least satisfied with their work organization: They report significantly lower employee experience scores than hybrid and full-time remote workers, especially for work-life balance and work-related stress and anxiety.
The executive-employee disconnection first observed in fall 2021 continues; executives show significantly higher scores for employee experience, including 1.3 times higher scores for overall satisfaction with their work environment compared to non-executive employees. And non-executives reported 1.5 times lower work-related stress and anxiety scores than executives.
The desire for flexibility is growing among employees around the world
Flexible work policies, not only in terms of where people work, but also when people work, are a priority for employees around the world, and flexibility still ranks second only to pay in terms of job satisfaction.
What do knowledge workers think about flexible working?
80% of all knowledge workers now want flexibility in where they work, a majority (53%) of them full-time office workers.
94% of employees want flexibility in when they work, a trend continuing from Future Forum’s previous quarterly survey, but more than 57% of employees say they have little or no ability to adjust their hours from a predefined schedule.
55% of employees surveyed are open to looking for a new job in the coming year, and among those who say they are dissatisfied with their level of flexibility, 70% will seek a new opportunity.
Lack of schedule flexibility has a huge impact on employee experience scores. Compared to those with moderate schedule flexibility, knowledge workers who say they have little or no ability to set their own hours report:
3.4 times worse for work-related stress and anxiety
2.2 times worse work-life balance
Employees with rigid work schedules also say they are 3 times more likely to “definitely” look for a new job next year (compared to 2.6 times in February).
Flexibility remains a powerful driver of inclusion
Flexible working practices are a key part of creating inclusive workplaces. While diversity, equity and inclusion has been a priority for executives over the past two years, it is important to recognize that the future of work planning and practices that promote belonging instead of work must go hand in hand.
“Underrepresented knowledge workers, who are crucial to the success of any organization, want flexibility in both where and when they work. They feel a stronger sense of belonging and feel more productive when given choice in how they want to work,” said Sheela Subramanian, vice president and co-founder of Future Forum. “Flexible working policies are fundamental to a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion priorities.”
How does interest in flexibility differ by race/ethnicity? (Only U.S)
This quarter’s results demonstrate that underrepresented groups continue to benefit from and prefer hybrid or fully remote work arrangements. The percentage of US respondents by race/ethnicity who prefer these environments:
88% Asian/Asian American (vs. 82% in February)
How does interest in flexibility differ by gender/parental status?
Additionally, the preference for location flexibility continues to be valuable to parents, including an all-time high of 83% of working moms. The percentage of working parents who want to work flexibly three to five days a week:
60% of working mothers (compared to 58% in February)
50% of working fathers (compared to 48% in February)
Employees are looking for creative ways to connect in the new workplace
To foster connection in a distributed work environment, leaders must rethink the role of the office and rethink the role of technology to better encourage collaboration in a flexible work environment.
What motivates people to want to come to the office?
The office remains an important anchor point for employees, but the primary purpose of office space is changing. Two-thirds of employees (66%) say they prefer a hybrid arrangement with the ability to access a physical space. When asked which drivers bring employees to the office:
74% say they collaborate with colleagues/clients, create camaraderie and facilitate in-person meetings
16% say they have a quiet space to focus on their work
10% say they spend time with management
How does perception of technology affect employee sentiment?
Embracing digital tools is a key element in connecting with employees. Consistent with quarter-over-quarter results, people who work at companies they describe as tech innovators continue to have higher employee experience scores across all dimensions (compared to those who describe their employers as technological laggards), including:
1.5 times higher scores on productivity
2x higher scores on sense of belonging
Scores 2.5 times higher on overall satisfaction
How does perception of transparency affect employee sentiment?
Knowledge workers who believe their employer communicates transparently have significantly higher scores for employee experience and engagement.
Employees who perceive their company to be transparent are 12 times more satisfied at work than employees who have the opposite perception.
Employees who don’t think their company is “very transparent about post-pandemic remote work policies” are 3.4 times more likely to “definitely” be looking for a new position in the coming year.
Among executives, 66% consider themselves to be “very transparent”, but only 43% of employees agree.
For more results, see the full Future Forum Pulse Q2 Report. In October 2022, Future Forum will release detailed results from its quarterly survey, including an analysis of emerging trends in the knowledge worker experience.
This Future Forum Pulse surveyed 10,818 knowledge workers in the United States, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom between May 2 and May 16, 2022. The survey was administered by Qualtrics and did not target Slack employees or customers. Respondents were all knowledge workers, defined as full-time employees (30 hours or more per week) and performing one of the roles listed below or stating that they “work with data, analyze information, or think creatively”: top management (e.g., President/Partner, CEO, CFO, C-suite), senior management (e.g., executive vice president, senior vice president), middle management (e.g., director of department/group, vice president), junior managers (e.g. manager, team leader), senior managers (i.e. non-managers), skilled office worker (e.g. analyst, graphic designer ).
The Future Forum Pulse measures how knowledge workers feel about their professional life on a five-point scale (from “very bad” to “very good”) across eight dimensions on an index of -60 (most negative) to +60 (most positive). ).