With remote work and hybrid arrangements driving post-COVID protocols, businesses that want to remain successful need to invest in an environment that provides options and flexibility.
At the beginning of the pandemic—when each day was “unprecedented”—employees were jolted with spur-of-the-moment short-term solutions. At UpCity, we realized early on that some of these short-term solutions shouldn’t be temporary in a post-COVID world.
To better understand these changes, UpCity worked with Pollfish to survey 600 business owners and employees across the United States and Canada. Their responses explore employees’ desire to work remotely, in person, or hybrid in the wake of COVID-19.
The survey revealed a bigger picture of needing to provide options and flexibility to employees, with an increase in the popularity of hybrid work models and working outside of the standard 9-5.
Hybrid Environments Post-COVID-19 Should Stay
Thirty-nine percent of surveyed professionals stated that they prefer working in a hybrid environment (half remote, half in-person), and 32% said they prefer to completely work from home. Only 15% said they would prefer to work in the office full-time just like they did pre-pandemic.
For many survey respondents, the pros and cons of working from home balance out. Working remotely gives employees more flexibility, options, and greater work-life balance. Employees can run errands in between meetings or spend more time with their families. At UpCity, we’ve even had some employees embrace our “work from anywhere” policy to travel internationally without using up all of their PTO.
Remote work doesn’t come without drawbacks, however. A majority of survey respondents cited at-home distractions as being the top challenge of remote work. Employers have also expressed dismay over the impacts on collaboration and culture.
As businesses are tasked with making a call, hybrid models have provided a best of both worlds situation—the flexibility of connecting with management and their teams as needed, but also maintaining the benefits of working remotely.
Employees Want More Flexibility Overall
Unfortunately, we live in a world where policies surrounding COVID-19 can be viewed as controversial or political, and everyone—regardless of their views—has pandemic fatigue. That said, it can be challenging for an employer to create a policy that pleases everyone.
At UpCity, we went beyond the hybrid model and decided to let employees choose for themselves what works best for them. We kept our office for employees to use as they wish, but no one is expected to be there. Employees can pick and choose when they want to use the office and how often, or not at all. Each employee is different, and we want them to flourish under a policy that best suits their needs.
For small business owners looking to go a similar – or hybrid – route, you may be wondering which coronavirus policies to implement at the office. Of course, that’s up to you, but for reference, 83% of survey respondents said they are required to have a vaccine card in their company’s office. At UpCity, we require employees that wish to use the office to be vaccinated so they can feel safe when they do come in, however it is not a requirement to be employed.
Desired options for employees don’t stop at allowing them to choose between the office and working from home. Survey respondents who were seeking new opportunities ranked the ability to work flexible hours as another top trait they’re looking for in their next role.
This was ranked above employee health benefits (although a close second), career advancement opportunities, insurance options, and more. Professionals argue this allows them to have a better work-life balance and can be beneficial in the long run because they’re working when they feel most productive.
How Small Businesses Can Adapt for the Future
When creating new company policies, again, it’s a challenge to please everyone. But when employees are given choices and flexibility, small businesses can show how committed they are to employee well-being.
More and more employees believe remote or hybrid work arrangements should be standard. People not only want to work for a company that helps them achieve their professional goals, but personal goals as well—and post-COVID policies help make that more possible for them.
Businesses that want to remain successful need to invest in tools to create a space in which these arrangements can flourish and implement workplace protections for the safety of employees and the integrity of company productivity, and those companies that have embraced the new way we conduct business are seeing great results. In fact, 87% of professionals in our survey reported that their workplace culture has improved post-COVID as their employers continuously make strides to meet the changing preferences of a now highly mobile workforce.
Business owners are in a tough spot, but working from the inside out to take care of employees is proving to have a positive impact on the business as a whole.
Dan Olson is co-founder and CEO of UpCity, a resource that connects millions of businesses with over 100,000 B2B service providers they can trust. He is active in the Chicago startup community and has spent his career building technologies that enable businesses to gain visibility, build reputation, and grow revenue. Dan was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ Notable Entrepreneurs of 2019. He lives in the Chicagoland area with his wife, children, and two lovable dogs.