Owl Labs, a global collaborative technology company, today launched its annual State of Hybrid Work study which reveals that flexibility is key to retaining top talent in 2022 and beyond.

65% of British employees would rather be paid less than work a full 5-day week and over a third would choose to decline a job if flexible hours are not offered. Offering greater flexibility will prove key to preventing employees from driving the ‘Great Resignation’ – with nearly one in three employees changing jobs in the past two years and a quarter of employees actively seeking a new opportunity in 2022.

Proximity bias is an emerging concern for employees in hybrid environments with nearly half of UK employees believing that proximity bias exists in the workplace. What’s more, over half of employees are more likely to ask the opinion or engage with those they physically work with over those who are remote.

Flexible is the new hybrid

In 2022, UK employees are demanding flexibility rather than rigid working hours. Already, 26% of businesses have introduced flexible working hours. The choice of when, where, and how employees work should be a collaborative decision between employer and employee.

Flexibility is also a priority when considering a new job. Job seekers would most likely decline a job offer if they were not given flexible hours, if they were required to work in the office full-time, or if they were not given flexibility over their working location. On average Brits want to spend three days in the office and two days working remotely – but they still want the choice of when they do so.

Over a third of Brits say they are more productive working remotely, whilst a further 43% haven’t experienced a change in their level of productivity when working remotely. Interestingly, there is a gender divide with 40% of women stating that they are more productive working remotely compared to just 33% of men. Age is also a factor in productivity at home with 18-24 year olds report the least productive at home – only 26% of them stating they’re more productive working remotely.

The shift to flexible work takes thoughtful and purposeful planning, yet only 36% of employees believe that their managers received hybrid or remote management training. A further 16% believe they should receive more training in the future. Unsurprisingly, 30% of British office workers find building relationships with remote colleagues harder. As a result, 59% of managers (and 62% of executives) are more likely to ask the opinion or engage with those they physically work with over those that are remote.

The possibility of the ‘Great Retention’ in 2022

To prevent the ‘Great Resignation’ of 2021 spilling into 2022, employers need to implement thoughtful retention strategies. The pandemic has caused a shift in encouraging an employee-first mentality for businesses.

As a result, companies have started to introduce forward-looking work benefits: 14% introduced a four-day work week, 19% introduced condensed hours during the pandemic, and 26% introduced flexible working hours.

Keeping employees engaged with immersive technology

A robust tech stack will play a crucial role in retaining top talent. While the possibility of an office metaverse may seem a distant possibility, levelling up video conferencing tools can be an immediate first step to make online meetings more engaging, with nearly a third of employees saying there was room for video conferencing improvement. The top tech that employees were keen to adopt in their company include: improved video conferencing tech, an office metaverse, virtual reality, augmented reality, holograms or avatars (10%)

Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs says, “As we enter into this next phase of work, it’s clear that employers in the UK can no longer simply offer hybrid work as an option – they need to provide flexibility to retain employees and keep them happy. It’s also vital that managers take accountability to ensure they are properly trained on how to effectively manage hybrid teams. It’s clear from our research that employees are demanding more from their employers when it comes to overall job satisfaction. Offering a wide range of benefits has never been more important as workers are open to exploring alternative employers that offer a better balance. Technology will also play an important role in maintaining an immersive workplace that keeps employees engaged. While the office metaverse may be some way off, simple changes to enhance video conferencing will have a significant impact on overall team camaraderie and culture in hybrid working environments.”

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65% of UK employees would take a pay cut for a four-day work week

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