Workers who spend most of their time in the office but have flexible working arrangements are happier and are more engaged their work, a global survey has found.

But those who are forced back into the office without any choice are more likely to seek alternative employment.

In the 2022 edition of its The Magnetic Workplace survey, international architecture firm Hassell interviewed 2,500 workers of mostly medium to large firms across Australia, China, Singapore, the UK and the US about their current work life.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that worldwide, the hybrid working model is here to stay.

All up, almost three quarters (73 percent) enjoy some flexibility regarding their working arrangements.

The survey also found that morale was greatest among those who spent most of their time in the office but enjoyed some flexibility.

Across those surveyed, those who spent 60 to 80 percent of their time in the office expressed greater levels of engagement, trust in their company and sense of belonging compared with those who spent either more or less time in the office.

Furthermore, those who are afforded flexibility are more likely to remain with their current employer.

Across all workers, those who are required to work at the office are more than twice as likely to consider quitting compared with those who are afforded flexibility.

The survey also found that:

  • Overall, compared with the previous survey in April 2020, workers in the latest survey were less likely to be engaged with their work (72 percent in 2022 v 67 percent in 2022), feel a sense of belonging at their workplace (46 percent v 37 percent) and were more likely to consider quitting 31 percent v 37 percent). Whilst this may signal what some refer to as the ‘great resignation’ worldwide, readings of the previous 2020 survey should be treated with caution as they were taken during the onset of the pandemic.
  • The traditional 9-5 working arrangement is dead, with less than four in ten of those surveyed wishing to spend their entire working day at the office on any given day of the week. (Not surprisingly, workers expressed a greater desire for flexible working on Mondays and Fridays but are more amenable to spending more time in the office during the middle of the week.)
  • Reasons why people either work from home or work at the office vary. Common reasons cited for working from home (in order) include work-life balance, a preferred working environment, concerns about COVID 19, greater productivity, a dislike of commuting, fewer distractions, not feeling safe at their company’s office and child responsibilities. Those who work at the office cite (in order) being required to do so, access to materials and equipment, ease of meeting with people, better technology, greater productivity, fewer distractions, preferring to work at the office, being around other people and feeling connected to the company.

The survey also considered important features which workers desire in their offices.

It found that many people wanted greater integration between their office life and home life.

Toward this end, it is important that certain features of the office mimic available at home.

Indeed, among those surveyed, the top five most common features which people would like from their office are free lunch and food, fresh air, gardens and green space, good coffee and enough space to focus without distraction.

Speaking about the overall findings, Daniel Davis, Senior Researcher and author of the report, said the best approach for employers is to encourage people back in the office whilst also offering flexibility.

Whilst encouraging the use of green space, Davis cautions that this alone is not sufficient and says employers should instead offer a range of amenities.

“While the target shouldn’t necessarily be getting employees back to the office 100 percent of the time, this report indicates that the sweet spot is really a hybrid mode of work where people are back 60 to 80 percent of the time,” Davis said.

“By publishing this report, we hope to provide solutions for adding flexibility to a workplace and create a magnetic culture and work environment.”


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