Almost nine in ten work meetings (87%) are now either fully virtual or hybrid, with only 13% occurring completely in person, according to a new report by Jabra. The company states that, as a result of these numbers, employers need to “think very carefully” about how virtual collaboration technologies can help employees feel a sense of belonging both in the office and outside of it.
With the pandemic coinciding with many Gen Z professionals starting work, remote and hybrid work is all they’ve ever known, and as such 64% of Gen Z globally consider their “office” to be their laptop, headset, and wherever they can get a strong internet connection. This highlights the growing importance of technology in defining the employee experience.
Jabra’s 2022 edition of the Hybrid Ways of Working Global Report goes on to explain that these Gen Z “hybrid natives” are also twice as likely as Millennials, and almost three times as likely as Gen X, to say that their usual workspace is a “third space,” such as a co-working space, café, or library. As Gen Z continues to take up a larger proportion of the workforce, organisations must understand, says the report, these key generational differences in location preferences.. Only by providing employees with relevant technology and support can they maintain productivity, employee wellbeing, and the reputation of true professionalism from any environment.
“We’re two years into the greatest work experiment of all time. What began as a necessary shift to remote work has evolved into a long-term exploration of hybrid ways of working,” said Holger Reisinger, SVP at Jabra. “As we enter the third year of this new era of work, we must think about hybrid work and our physical working spaces differently to retain and attract talent. Leaders need take a step back to ask, listen, and understand what employees truly need to enhance their hybrid work experience. Critically, we need to find a way to create a sense of belonging to a workplace that is virtual first. Give employees the power to choose their desired working space and offer them the technology, tools, and support to be productive no matter their environment. Let’s move beyond thinking solely in terms of WFH or WFO to a work-from-anywhere future.”
Carried out amongst 2,800 knowledge workers across six countries worldwide, the report analyses employee sentiments and motivations around the physical workspace in this hybrid working era, and confirms that employees with full autonomy to choose where they work are happier in their job.
Although work contentment is informed by the ability to choose where one works, with employees saying that being able to decide where and when they work positively impacts their wellbeing, happiness, and productivity levels, only one in five workers are currently able to do so, says the report. And though 60% of all employees prefer hybrid working, only 39% are able to flexibly split their time between the home and office.
Employees with full control over their work arrangement (where/when) unanimously report a higher work experience score (76%) than their medium (66%) and low autonomy (58%) counterparts. According to Jabra, these differences are most apparent when it comes to feeling a sense of belonging, productivity, trust in leaders, work-life balance, and mental wellbeing. Globally, there is also a split in opinions across generations, as Gen Z and Millennials are more reluctant to work full time in the office, with only 19% preferring a full office week, compared to 26% of Gen X and 30% of Boomers.
Organisations are redesigning offices for collaboration, but the report shows that there are further considerations to bear in mind. Across all types of workers, there’s a desire to have a dedicated personal space in the office. Almost four in ten workers (37%) say they’d feel less loyalty and commitment to their company if they didn’t have a regular, permanent workspace. Meanwhile, seven in ten (71%) workers confess they’re creatures of habit: if they didn’t have a regular, permanent workspace in the office, they would still try to sit and work in the same spot every day.