As many as 7 out of 10 employees working in full-time remote, in-office or flexible work arrangements feel that too many calls and meetings are disruptive to their concentration and more than half of the employees say at least half the meetings they joined could have been emails instead.
These are the findings of HubSpot's 2022 Hybrid Work Report which analyzed feedback from HubSpot's hybrid workforce and surveyed over 4,000 full-time remote, in-office, and flex workers from companies in the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, France, Canada, and Japan on collaboration, culture, communication, mental health, and management in a hybrid world.
The past year has brought seismic shifts to how and where we work. In 2021, employees had the chance to experience the flexibility of working both remotely and in the office, leading many organizations to embrace and adopt hybrid work models.
As the pandemic continues to evolve, so does the way we work. Employees want flexibility and a culture that helps them grow personally and professionally, regardless of where they work from, however, it does come with certain challenges as there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
According to HubSpot, the customer relationship management (CRM) platform for scaling companies, while hybrid work is here to stay, 2022 will be about making long-term bets for a more sustainable future of work.
Here are the other key findings from the survey, fielded in December 2021.
Effective communication needs improvement for long-term productivity
Enabling employees to do their best work requires the right systems and tools for collaborating remotely. But the tools only go so far in a hybrid world. More guidance around workplace communication is needed to stave off meeting fatigue and drive long-term productivity, says the survey.
As many as 70% of those surveyed said that too many calls and meetings are disruptive to their concentration and 58% feel at least half the meetings they joined could have been emails, instead.
Only 32% of survey respondents say they have received guidelines around using unified communication and collaboration tools and 49% of flex workers go into the office to more efficiently communicate with colleagues.
Collaboration and connection a challenge with hybrid workforce
Employees around the world acclimated to the “new normal” of work during the pandemic, collaborating with colleagues remotely, and often without any guidelines or expectations in place. As some offices opened back up in 2021, employees globally felt disconnected from their teams, regardless of work preference.
As per the survey findings, 40% of remote workers miss spontaneous, in-person connections with their colleagues, despite feeling that the benefits of working from home (more time for family, exercise and household chores) outweigh their desire to return to an office.
While 49% of in-office workers found staying motivated and staying connected with their team to be the biggest challenges in the transition from remote work to in-office last year, 31% of flex workers cited relationship-building as a difficulty, with more women reporting feeling this way than men.
Culture thrives when it’s tied to employee experience, not location
Prioritizing the employee experience and helping employees stay connected to their company culture virtually is challenging, but critical.
The HubSpot reveals that 40% of flex workers see differences in the in-office and remote employee experience as an obstacle to success. 47% of those surveyed ranked work/life balance as the most important aspect of company culture and 31% of survey respondents said that opportunities to provide feedback anonymously would help them feel more supported and included at work, especially respondents who identified as Black or African American.
Addressing burnout and mental health requires holistic approach
Prioritizing work-life fit is more important than ever in building a future-proof hybrid workplace. That starts with providing opportunities for workers to truly unplug and investing in mental health and career development resources. For many employees, ambiguity about hybrid work policies and a lack of upward mobility are contributing to feelings of stress and burnout.
As many as 90% of survey respondents are dealing with some level of burnout and 75% cited feeling overworked or unsupported as drivers for wanting to change their career.
The survey found that 57% of respondents struggle to set boundaries between personal and work life. While 26% of remote workers are spending the time, they are not commuting to an office, doing work, 60% of parents and caregivers feel pressured to be “always on” during working hours, despite their current situation at home.
76% of respondents would rather have unlimited vacation than one day a week of no meetings, especially women, the survey adds.
Managers need more resources to better support their teams
When it comes to leading a team distributed across work preferences and locations, empowering managers with the appropriate resources, support, and training is crucial to setting them up for success.
As per the survey, 44% of managers surveyed believe they have the right tools to be an effective manager in a hybrid environment, but 31% remain uncertain.
Also, 23% of flex workers described management of remote employees as the biggest challenge of working with a hybrid team.
"One key learning over the past year is that caring and listening are table stakes. The companies who will be successful in 2022 and beyond will match that listening with action, setting bold strategies for the new future of work," says Katie Burke, chief people officer, HubSpot.