EmInfo Reader: Adjustments to the way people work were among the remote and hybrid schemes which were forced by the social distancing demands of the coronavirus virus over the past several years. How many of these adjustments have been made permanent and what is still on the table for current and future consideration?
Dr. Burtnett: This question must be answered in two parts, both of which can’t be considered final until the entire American and global workplace conducts a comprehensive assessment of which schemes are sustaining or enhancing worker performance and productivity. As a result, the jury is still “out” for many employees and employers.
Status of Remote or Hybrid Work
One would have thought that with the COVID19 crisis in our rearview mirror that most work and workplace schemes would have returned to their pre-pandemic state. An in-depth story by Alana Semuels on the TIME website suggests the opposite. Citing The Flex Report, the author reports that the percentage of workers engaged in work away from the office or workplace is actually declining.
This desired work characteristic was learned as the number of employers targeted by the survey rose.
Referring to the new schemes as “structured hybrids,” employers point to Tuesday as the day most required for office or business presence, followed by Wednesday and Thursday. Friday and Monday (in that order) were identified as the most prevalent remote days. Semuels also offers that workplace flexibility differs dramatically depending on the employer’s industry, size, and location.
Future of the Five-Day Workweek
A recent Washington Post story indicates that the workforce is equally concerned about the 40-hour, five-day workweek, a standard that goes back to the industrial and manufacturing emphasis of the early 1900s. Danielle Abril of the Post cited a poll conducted by the newspaper this spring that indicates that 75 percent of workers across generations, income levels, and partisan groups would prefer working four 10-hour days versus five eight-hour days, but including majorities across generations, income levels and partisan groups.
Abril also cites the employee concern that compensation not be affected and how changing the workweek would call for cultural and structural changes. Examples of the experimental undertaking of the four-day workweek were also cited.
TIME story: https://time.com/6281252/return-to-office-hybrid-work/
Washington Post story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/05/24/4-day-work-week-united-states/
The Flex Report
https://www.flex.scoopforwork.com/stats (Requires registration to access)