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Hybrid working here to stay, yet posing challenges for businesses and employees

Market conditions and employee attitudes suggest that hybrid working is here to stay, yet this is presenting obstacles for organisations and workers alike. Effective communication and collaboration channels that bridge the physical and virtual divide still remain a key challenge. At the same time, many employees also find it difficult to achieve the right balance between work and personal life, as boundaries between the two become blurred.

Building on its research from 2022, Futuresource Consulting has now conducted a new round of interviews, to investigate current working arrangements and focus on the technologies, solutions and collaboration tools being used, as well as the types of work and meetings which are being carried out in each location.

The study, conducted with 3,000 interviewees across the USA, France, Germany, the UK, India and Japan, noted many global similarities, as well as some country-specific behaviours.

“For many organisations, uniting remote and office-based teams to achieve the best commercial results is still a hot potato,” says Alistair Johnston, Head of Collaboration, Futuresource Consulting. “Zoom has recently announced a shift back to hybrid working, telling employees who live within 50 miles of an office that they should commute at least two days each week. This underlines the need to fully integrate employees at all times, wherever they are operating.”

Despite some movement, this new Futuresource study shows that working patterns have settled down, with only small changes compared to last year’s results.

Regional differences in hybrid working

In the UK, around half of people are back in the office. Across the UK, France and Germany, hybrid work is more dominant than both fully remote working and fully office-based working, accounting for 48% of the workforce. In the USA, fully office-based work is the dominant mode, accounting for 51% of employees, while 11% of employees are fully remote, far higher than recorded for Europe.

In Asia, Futuresource found significant differences in practices and attitudes to technology and work between India and Japan. India has embraced hybrid work to a much greater extent, and its work patterns are similar to those found in Western Europe and North America, with more than half of employees adopting hybrid working practices. Conversely, in Japan, 59% are fully office based.

Benefits of working from home and the incentives of office work

Across all geographies, the main benefits of working from home were stated as flexibility in working hours, health benefits and time saved from commuting. The study shows that commute time for senior employees tends to be longer than for more junior employees.

There is a feeling among those who work from home that their employers would like them to spend more time in the office, with productivity given as the most common reason. However, encouraging employees to return to the office is a complex problem, and solutions are very country specific.

In the USA, employee behaviour is more likely to be influenced by company policy, and access to colleagues and managers, rather than financial incentives. In India, flexible arrival and leaving times were mentioned most often, whereas incentives such as free meals and travel subsidies ranked highly in Europe.

Consumer tech pervading the home office

In the USA, nine in every ten remote workers has a dedicated office, dropping to just over three in four across the European countries. Laptop use at home was most prevalent in in India and Japan, at 70% and 64% respectively, dropping to 63% in the USA and 56% in Europe.

Consumer tech is also becoming increasingly important, with many workers now favouring devices such as Apple AirPods over bulky headsets. In all regions, true wireless is the dominant form factor for people working from home, with India leading the way at 57% of headphone users choosing true wireless. In India, true wireless is also the key form factor when employees are using headsets in the office, at 60% of headphone users. Convenience, portability, improved technology, battery life and design trends are all cited as contributing to the form factor’s popularity.

Out-of-office working beyond the home

For the first time, Futuresource also explored remote work from locations other than the home. The report goes into detail about what people are doing in these spaces, what kind of work they are undertaking, the technology they are using, and whether the tech is being supplied by the space provider.

“In the USA, 71% of remote workers have recently worked in alternative spaces,” says Johnston. “More than 40% recently worked in a dedicated co-working space, 36% mentioned hotel meeting rooms and presentation spaces, whereas 32% worked from a coffee shop and 29% a library. Remote working is becoming far more than just a home-based phenomenon.”

For further information on Futuresource Consulting’s range of hybrid work survey reports, or to make a purchase, please

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Alistair Johnston

About the author

Alistair Johnston

Alistair leads the Collaboration team at Futuresource Consulting, researching and consulting on the ways we work together, both in the office and remotely.

With a background in both operations and marketing, Alistair is particularly interested in how individuals and companies adapt under conditions of technological and social change.

Alistair has an economics degree from the University in Cambridge, and has previously worked as a business analyst, particularly within the financial sector.

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