Why employees prefer hybrid working to a 10% pay rise – and what it means for business

Why employees prefer hybrid working to a 10% pay rise – and what it means for business

IWG research shows that 72% of office workers would prefer long-term flexibility over where they’re based to extra money, while two thirds would not apply for a new job unless it offered hybrid working. 

New research from IWG shows that the pandemic has had such an effect on employees’ priorities that they would forgo a 10% pay rise in favour of retaining the option to work remotely.

According to the survey, 72% of office workers would prefer a hybrid way of working to a full-time return to the office – even if reverting to the old Monday-Friday routine meant earning more money.

After long periods spent working from home - and proving that they can be just as productive outside the office as in it - it’s clear that employees aren’t keen on returning to arduous daily commutes. Instead, they want to lock in the work-life benefits and increased flexibility that’s offered by the hybrid approach.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 85% of adults who worked from home during periods of lockdown now want to split their time between working remotely and at the company office. 

Evolution becomes revolution

According to IWG Founder and CEO Mark Dixon, what was an evolution towards hybrid working has been turbo-charged by Covid-19. “The pandemic has certainly had a dramatic and permanent effect,” he explains. “But it’s merely accelerated a trend that’s been under way for several years.” 

Dixon points to the pivotal role of technology in enabling the shift – so perhaps it’s no coincidence that younger workers and digital natives are particularly comfortable with the hybrid approach. IWG’s research showed that 84% of 18-24-year-olds would prefer flexible working practices over adding 10% to their salary, indicating the value they place on having ownership of their work schedules and commuting habits.

Attracting (and retaining) talent

Of the workers IWG surveyed, two thirds of those aged 25-34 would not consider applying for a job if hybrid working was not on offer. Meanwhile, 83% of workers would now be more likely to apply for a position if it offered a flexible way of working. This data highlights the impact of the pandemic on employees’ attitudes to how and where they operate. 

In the new world of work, firms looking to hire the brightest and best talent will need to offer a way of working that’s built on trust, individual responsibility and productivity – not one that’s based on a set number of hours during which a worker must be desk-bound. 

Employers who embrace hybrid working will likely find they retain talent more effectively, too, according to experts. Reducing the need for employees to commute empowers them to achieve improved work-life balance, reclaiming ‘wasted’ time that can be spent with family and friends or on vital self-care.

Put simply, people who feel supported in looking after their own mental, emotional and physical health are likely to feel more loyalty towards businesses and stay with them for longer. Acas advises employers that “hybrid working can help businesses retain staff... as the flexibility allows them to balance work and personal responsibilities.”

What about productivity? 

For business leaders, the question of productivity is crucial. While it may seem counterintuitive for those executives who were reluctant to allow remote working before the pandemic, research from CIPD shows that remote working either had no significant effect or helped to improve productivity during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Meanwhile, Accenture has found that 63% of organisations with high-growth characteristics have enabled ‘productivity anywhere’ workforce models, whereas 69% of those with negative or no growth are still fixated on where their people work. The findings underline the point that happier employees are more effective employees, wherever they’re based. 

Not the end for the office

Giving employees the option to work from a nearby flexspace is a key way to ensure the long-term success of the hybrid model. Having a ‘third location’ to work from – neither the home nor the corporate HQ – combines the best of both worlds, removing workers from domestic distractions but also freeing them from the rat race. 

Flexible and coworking spaces also offer advantages in terms of their potential for hosting meetings and encouraging networking. NTT, which inked a groundbreaking deal with IWG earlier this year, is even developing an app to help employees find one another at flexspace locations.

However, the corporate HQ still has an important part to play in the hybrid future, with regular visits allowing for collaboration and connecting. Forward-looking businesses are already considering how office space can be reconfigured, as well as scaled back: old-fashioned rows of desks will be replaced by areas dedicated to creativity, active work and discussion. 

In IWG’s survey, 84% of 18-24-year-olds felt that collaboration was easier in an office environment, while 82% believed that having the opportunity to spend time with colleagues face to face would help them develop the core skills they need for career advancement. 

Meanwhile, 90% agreed that working from an office was helpful for maintaining work-life boundaries, with leaving the building a clear stopping point at the end of the day. The same can be said of working from a flexspace, with the physical departure for home a useful line in the sand for those who might otherwise allow the working day to stretch on.   

Better for people, profit and the planet

While it has clear benefits for people and profitability, it’s important to note that the hybrid approach can also reduce businesses’ impact on the environment. “Companies of all sizes see addressing the need for their people to commute as the single greatest contribution they can make to cutting their carbon footprint,” says Dixon. 

Overall, he argues, the advantages of the hybrid model are now too clear for companies to ignore. “Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen businesses recognise the benefits hybrid working has on their bottom line, but this latest research demonstrates the importance of hybrid working to the lifestyles and happiness of employees across the country. 

“The fact many are more concerned about a flexible work policy than a pay rise speaks volumes as to the permanent behaviour and mind-set shift caused by the pandemic.”

With thousands of smart flexible workspaces all around the world, IWG can offer the services your company needs to navigate the new normal.