Home, hybrid or office? The results of our survey on changing work patterns

Remote and hybrid working to continue for most of the workforce worldwide with only a small minority returning to their former office full-time, our survey suggests

A global survey of Praxity member firms has revealed the shift to home and hybrid working accelerated by the pandemic is set to become the norm for a large proportion of employees but the communal office will remain an important hub.

The survey was conducted in June 2021 when over a quarter of respondents were still working exclusively from home (27%). However, 16% were already back in the office full-time in countries where this was possible.

The findings reveal hybrid working – where employees work some of the time at home and some of the time in a communal office – is the preferred option for the majority of accounting professionals.

However, the hybrid model is not for everyone and some of the 172 respondents voiced fears over trust and performance.

The survey results provide a snapshot of where you work, how you want to work in future, and your attitude to remote and hybrid working.

Key findings include:

Only 15% of employees wish to return to the office full-time.

Just under half of employees (44%) feel very confident to return to the office at least some of the time when safe to do so.

The most popular hybrid solution is two days a week or less in the office when safe to return (43%), followed by three days a week (29%).

Younger employees want to spend more time working from home than their elders.

Of those at Senior Partner level and above, a slightly higher proportion wish to return to the office full-time (19%) while the most popular hybrid solution is three days a week (30%) amongst senior partners.

Country differences

The survey threw up some interesting differences between countries. The largest number of respondents are based in the US (27%), more than half of whom are currently not going into the office at all. When safe to do so, just under half (45%) would like to work in the office two days a week or less.

This contrasts with the UK, home of the second largest group of respondents (16%) where a much larger proportion (61%) prefer the two-day a week or less hybrid solution, indicating a greater desire in the UK to spend more time working from home.

Home working is also more popular in Japan where most respondents would prefer only one day a week in the communal office when safe to return. In South Africa, the preference is two days a week while in Mexico, Canada and Australia it’s three. In Germany, the preference is to return to the office four days a week, which represents only a slightly more flexible arrangement than pre-pandemic working patterns.

Age differences

There are also marked differences based on age. Most employees aged 25-34 would prefer to return to the office just one day a week whereas the preference for older age groups is three days a week.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on employees’ attitudes to the workplace, with 68% of respondents saying their opinion of working from home has changed. More than three quarters (77%) say their firms are ready to adopt a hybrid working solution although 62% have not been asked for their opinion within their firm.

Opinion is divided on the merits of home and hybrid working. Here is a selection of employee comments:

“I didn't realize how much I would enjoy it.”

“Working from home is still not as effective and efficient as working in the office, but there are circumstances in which working from home creates employee satisfaction. On the contrary, working from home for long(er) periods of time took an enormous toll on team building and firm loyalty.”

“It has now become a much more plausible way of working for my role and after adapting throughout the lockdowns it has demonstrated how working from home some of the week would now be doable.”

“I used to hate working from home until I was forced to do so. When the pandemic hit and was evident it wasn't changing, I updated my home space to allow for a very productive, functional work setting. Now I have no desire to go back to the office.”

“I miss the interaction with colleagues. In fact, the thought of hybrid working as the new normal going forward has made me decide to retire early.”

For more information on the pros and cons of hybrid working, and how to make it work for you, please read our Going Hybrid article.

On behalf of Praxity by Ian Lavis thewritingroom