Where Are We At With the Future of Work?

Sarah HallamFuture of Work

Image credit: Unsplash.com

If the 2021 year-end superlatives included “Phrase of the year,” “future of work” would win in a clean sweep.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of think pieces, newsletters, LinkedIn influencer posts and even The Org articles dedicated to transformation occurring in workplaces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's a tired phrase, yes, but it's also crept into the everyday vernacular and mindset of business leaders. It’s even cemented itself as a new category of news for us on our website, Insights.

But almost two years into all the talk of what the “future” of work will end up being, what does working full-time in the U.S. actually look like now?

According to a Gallup survey, there are currently 125 million full-time jobs in the U.S. Of those — 50% or 60 million — report that their job can be done working remotely at home.

What do potential WFH employees want?

Of the 60 million full-time jobs that could work remote in the U.S., 30% of workers never want to come into an office again. Source: Gallup.

Thirty percent of those 60 million said they prefer “to never come into the office again.” 10% said they prefer working all 5 days in the office. The middle 60% want a blend of 1 to 4 days a week. The most common preference was 2 to 3 days.

Gallup is also predicting 37% of desks in offices will be empty going into 2022 — and that’s without accounting for the newest wave of COVID variants.

That means a 37% reduction of in-person working days from an office. Alternatively, think of an office building where all jobs can be done remotely. It will have 37% less desks filled with employees during the week.

37 percent

37% of office desks will be empty in 2022. Source: Gallup.

Of those who weren’t given an option to come back into the office, 70% are “happier than they thought they’d be” going in person, according to another study done by Eden Workplace. This is on par with the 66% surveyed who “expected” to be happy returning to the office.

But when it comes to being managed remotely, U.S. employees aren’t as enthusiastic. Only one in three of survey respondents said they would give their employers an “A” grade for managing the return to in-person work, according to the Eden Workplace study.

Fifty-seven percent of workers want their workplaces to require vaccine policies but only 44% of businesses are doing so.

Hybrid working is preferred

The majority of workers want the flexibility of a hybrid work model. Source: Eden Workplace.

And above all else - the majority of employees (62%) want the flexibility of a hybrid work model. Only 23% want full-time office requirements, and 15% want full-time remote work situations.

The rise of COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant has put CEOs and CHROs back at square one on making an in-office plan for 2022. Offices aren’t quite yet getting abolished forever and companies that plan on crafting a successful hybrid plan will draw in the 85% of workers who say they want access to some form of an office.

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