Note: This post is part of our Special Report: Top 10 people & culture trends for 2024.
Hybrid, remote, onsite. Yes, we will still be talking about where we work in 2024.
Here’s what we saw at the end of 2023, according to Statistics Canada:
- Remote work is falling. The share of workers who work exclusively from home declined from 24.3% in January 2022 to 12.6% in November 2023.
- Hybrid is growing. The share of workers with hybrid arrangements has more than tripled since January 2022, reaching 11.7% in November 2023.
- Hybrid work is especially popular among workers with small children. In November 2023, 30% of parents with at least one child five years or younger worked exclusively from home or had a hybrid arrangement, compared to 23.5% of workers without a child at home.
What lies ahead in 2024?
We expect the shift toward more onsite/hybrid work and less 100% remote work to continue this year, driven by multiple factors: employers want to make better use of office space and are concerned about mental health and loneliness, productivity, and challenges with learning and fostering connections in a remote setting.
Pros and cons on all sides
It’s no wonder we’re still talking about it. When it comes to hybrid, remote or onsite work, employers and employees differ based on their age and stage of career, job type, work location and more. Here’s what researchers have found:
- Productivity is hard to assess: While many employers complain of low productivity in a remote setting, a new study of 554 public companies in the US found that those that gave employees the choice of where to work saw a 16% increase in revenue over those with more rigid mandates.
- Among employers, on the plus side, it’s easier to attract candidates if you offer a hybrid or remote environment (it could be a good way for smaller companies that can’t afford big salaries to attract top talent from larger companies that tend to have stricter in-office mandates). However, on the downside, in a hybrid/remote setting, it’s harder to honour and lift mental health, teach and upskill, and lead a distributed workforce.
- Among employees, commuting is expensive—why buy a bus pass for only two days in office? Many who love hybrid don’t want to be told what days to come in. A 2023 Glassdoor study found that remote workers are the loneliest (31% vs. 23% of hybrid employees and 21% of in-person workers) and have the hardest time connecting with colleagues and building relationships with their manager or senior colleagues. And onsite workers? Many still find it isolating – because they’re still on Zoom or Teams even when in the office.
Tips for 2024
With hybrid continuing to grow this year, here are some considerations for employers:
- Cybersecurity will become more of an issue. One study found that 73% of executives think remote workers pose a greater security risk. So, as cyber threats are predicted to grow, consider offering additional education about safe digital practices in a remote setting in 2024.
- High-demand skills will dictate where people work—and what employers will need to offer to hire them. Especially if you’re looking to fill roles in the fields predicted to have the highest incidence of remote work in 2024 (according to FlexJobs):
• Computer and IT
• Accounting and Finance
• Project Management
• HR and Recruiting
• Customer Service
- To attract millennials, offer remote. This is the generation that wants remote work the most, according to Stanford research, possibly because this age coincides with the period when many people have small children at home. Another factor? During the pandemic, many millennials bought houses in cheaper, more distant communities. One study found their commute distance has since more than doubled, so it’s no wonder they don’t want to return to office.
- To attract Gen Z, offer hybrid. They are the least in favour of 100% remote work. They like choice. They want the experience of in-office work, want to be mentored in person and be seen, but don’t like strict in-office mandates. Data from Gartner suggests companies that make office attendance optional have a 10% higher engagement rate among Gen Zers than those that require it. And 65% say their willingness to stay in their jobs hinges partly on whether they can work flexibly.
- If onsite, make it count. In our experience, offering free food isn’t the best motivator to draw workers onsite. It’s better to be intentional about the reason to come to the office: to collaborate as a team. Organize in-person job shadowing and team brainstorming sessions, have in-person one-on-ones, etc. Don’t just get together for lunch.
Read our next trend to watch in 2024: Trend 7: Social media and the workplace: 2024 is the year to get clear.