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New Eagle Hill Consulting research finds reducing remote work flexibility will motivate large share of employees to seek other employment, especially younger workers

Workers recognize value of in-person work, but have concerns about work-life balance and commute times

Arlington, Va., May 18, 2023 – Nearly half (47 percent) of U.S. workers indicate that they will consider looking for a new job should their employer reduce remote and hybrid work flexibility, new Eagle Hill Consulting research finds. Remote work flexibility is substantially more important to younger workers. Sixty-one percent of GenZ and 57 percent of Millennial employees indicate they would look for other employment if remote flexibility were scaled back, with Baby Boomers at 29 percent.

These findings come as employers are announcing plans to end remote work for some employees, while other organizations are sticking with remote-first or employee driven work location decisions. At the same time, job market power is shifting back to employers amid layoffs and economic turbulence. 

The nationwide survey of U.S. workers also finds that employees see the value of in-person work. A large share of workers (60 percent) say those who work more in the office than remotely are more likely to be successful in their jobs. Eighty-three of workers say integrating new team members is managed better in person, as is team building (82 percent), managing teams and training (77 percent), onboarding and kicking off a new project (73 percent), getting a project back on track and performance discussions (71 percent), giving and receiving feedback (66 percent), and brainstorming (62 percent). 

“Employers are walking a tightrope when it comes to remote and hybrid work changes,” said Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Balancing the need for high performance while also retaining top talent isn’t easy. The research suggests that approaches to remote work must be nuanced and there is common ground.” 

“Workers know that some work is best accomplished in-person, especially work that requires collaboration. At the same time, workers don’t want to be forced to work fully in-person because of concerns about work-life balance and commuting time. This means giving employees flexibility is the key to success – perhaps permitting remote work for individualized tasks, re-thinking traditional work schedules, and having collaborative time in the workplace. The research is clear that most employees want a certain degree of in-person work, but they don’t like mandates and rigid rules on how they get their work done. Ultimately, organizations that successfully navigate remote work will have a high level of trust between employees and managers, an environment that fosters good communication, and effective processes for managing performance outcomes,” Jezior said. 

The research also finds:

  • Forty-two percent of U.S. workers say their job satisfaction would decrease if their employer mandated a return to in-person work, while 34 percent say their productivity would decrease with such a requirement. Thirty-five percent say a mandate would decrease how long they will stay with their current employer. 
  • Many workers (43 percent) prefer to work with an organization that offers hybrid and remote work flexibility, highest for Millennial (48 percent) and GenZ employees (46 percent).
  • Worker concerns about more in-person work include work-life balance (44 percent), commute times (37 percent), higher costs (33 percent), and stress (33 percent).
  • In terms of the benefits of required in-person work, employees say it’s more socialization (39 percent), the ability to leave work at the workplace (30 percent), improved collaboration (28 percent), and increased productivity (24 percent). 
  • Work that is better achieved remotely includes research (55 percent), deep thinking (55 percent), and focus time (51 percent). 
  • Employees are almost evenly split as to whether they are more productive spending a full day in the workplace (53 percent) versus spending only part of the day (47 percent).  
  • Sixty-seven percent of workers say remote work flexibility decisions lie with their immediate supervisors.
  • Most workers (77 percent) say they trust the person who determines where they work understands how employees can be most productive. 
  • When given the choice between either coming to the workplace or remote work, more employees (57) would choose the workplace over remote (43 percent). 

These findings are based upon the 2023 Eagle Hill Consulting Telework Survey conducted by Ipsos from April 27 – May 1, 2023. The survey included 1,013 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S. Respondents were polled about their views about working remotely.

Eagle Hill Consulting LLC is a woman-owned business that provides unconventional management consulting services in the areas of Strategy, Performance, Talent, and Change. The company’s expertise in delivering innovative solutions to unique challenges spans across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. A leading authority on employee sentiment, Eagle Hill is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with employees across the U.S. and offices in Boston and Seattle. More information is available at www.eaglehillconsulting.com.

Media Contact:  Susan Nealon | 703.229.8600 | snealon@eaglehillconsulting.com | @WeAreEagleHill