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Survey: Employees Want a Hybrid Workplace So Much They're Even Willing to Pay For It

Apr 19, 2021 by Barbara Zito
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Many employees faced with returning to the office after working from home for a year during the pandemic are dragging their feet. They're eager for a hybrid workplace, which offers the ability to work from home, the office, or co-working spaces, among other locations. They want that work flexibility so badly that they are willing to forfeit benefits, perks, and even their own money to do it. What's more is companies are ready to embrace their new hybrid workforce.

A recent blind study by WeWork and HR research and advisory firm Workplace Intelligence polled 2,000 U.S employees and C-suite execs about how a hybrid model could fit into the return to work. The survey found that the hybrid workplace was a hit with both employees and execs: 95% of employees want flexibility in where and how they work, and 96% of companies are ready to allow it.

What does the hybrid workplace look like?

The hybrid workplace model has staffers clocking in from various locations in any given work week. One day might be spent at the corporate office, a couple at the home office, and the rest spent in a co-working space or at another location conducive to work, like a cafe.

Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence, emphasized the desire on both sides of the office hierarchy to make it work with a hybrid work arrangement:

People inherently want more freedom in their lives, including control over when, where, and how they work. … We found that even if companies don't provide access to offices, many employees are willing to use their own income to have a hybrid arrangement. The sooner companies accept, promote and adapt to a hybrid work model, the better it will be for everyone.

Trading perks for flexibility

In fact, 75% of employees were willing to give up at least one benefit or perk -- including healthcare coverage, vacation time, and even bonuses -- if it meant choosing where they could work.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of employees would even pay for access to an office space closer to home -- or wherever they want, for that matter. Almost half (48%) of employees would be willing to fork over more than $300 a month as an investment in a remote office or coworking space.

The executive office is open to negotiation. 79% of higher ups are allowing employees to split time between remote spaces and the corporate office, if the arrangement is suited to the job. In fact, 76% of executives would even offer a stipend to employees wanting to work at home or in a co-working space.

What it means for investors

Empty offices during the pandemic was bad news for investors. Now, the move toward a hybrid workplace signals that many companies will be downsizing their office space -- many already have -- which is further bad news. But for investors in the co-working space, this is great news. Co-working spaces slumped during 2020, as did much of commercial real estate during the pandemic. But now that employees are staring down a return to daily life back at the office, they are more eager to explore co-working options that will keep them productive on more of their own terms.

"Now more than ever, these survey results reinforce what the pandemic has made clear: Covid-19 has fundamentally altered the way we think about the office," said WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani in a recent statement. He went on to talk about what's on the horizon:

Moving forward, employees and companies will need to adopt flexible solutions that support hybrid working styles in order to keep employees engaged and satisfied. As the results show, hybrid is the way of the future, and WeWork looks forward to supporting companies as they make these transitions.

The bottom line

People are more than ready to get past the pandemic and back to some semblance of normalcy. However, this doesn't mean they're willing to give up the flexibility of working from home or another remote location. By adopting a hybrid work environment, employees could start to flock toward co-working spaces -- especially if their companies are willing to foot the bill.

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