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Three in Four Workers Haven’t Been Trained for Hybrid Work

TechSmith Corporation, an industry leader in visual communication tools for the workplace, in partnership with workplace research-based consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics and Caryatid Workplace Consultancy, has released the 2024 Workplace Flexibility Trends Report, which examines the state of where, when, and how people work and collaborate. Based on a survey of 900 U.S. leaders in HR, real estate, IT, and product roles, the report reveals most employers have not adapted their practices to support their shift to flexible work. It also explores the importance of different wants and needs across generation, company size, and workplace experience.  

Just five years ago, less than 5% of employees had the option to work remotely on a regular basis. Today, the report finds 58% now have that option at least some of the time. But while most employers have embraced a change in “where” people work, many have not adopted the new practices they need to do it well. Nearly three out of four respondents indicated their employer has not trained its managers to lead a distributed team, established team or meeting norms, or adopted best practices to support working across distances. 

“The pandemic forced the majority of organizations into hybrid work practically overnight, with no time to consider how to support new practices,” says Wendy Hamilton, CEO of TechSmith. “Unfortunately, some businesses are reverting back to in-office because they haven’t committed to meeting the needs of a flexible workforce. Instead, organizations need to redesign meeting protocols, tech stacks, and collaboration approaches. Returning to office full-time instead of investing in flexibility will hurt productivity, recruiting and employee engagement.” 

Other key findings are below.  

  • Real-time communication outpaces asynchronous collaboration 55% to 45%, but the majority want asynchronous alternatives. Despite real-time communication slightly edging out asynchronous communication, nearly 70% of employees believe email could replace over a quarter of their meetings. Many respondents also believe video and images could enhance asynchronous communication with nearly seven in 10 respondents using video messaging sometimes or often in workplace communication and another 22% interested in trying it. Emails containing images or videos are favored nearly 50% over plain text. 
  • In-office workers face more interruptions than their hybrid counterparts with reduced productivity. Compared to hybrid employees, in-office workers are nearly twice as likely to be interrupted more than 25 times a day (83% higher), and more than three times more likely than full-remote workers. Nearly half of respondents (46%) indicated that unwanted interruptions more than six times a day reduced their productivity or increased their stress. 
  • Respondents consider ad hoc and unplanned meetings to be the lowest value meeting by far at 7%. In comparison, decision-making meetings have the highest value by only 24% of respondents. Meetings related to project feedback (18%), training (18%), brainstorming sessions (17%), and status updates (16%) follow closely behind.  
  • Generation and level in the organization greatly influence flexibility. Managers (44%) are more tethered to an office than senior leaders or individual contributors (less than 27%). Baby boomers have far more flexibility than Gen Z (74% compared to 63%) and when (49% compared to 30%) they work. 
  • Fully remote is increasingly becoming a small business luxury. The smallest companies, between one and nine employees, are far more likely to allow fully remote (23%) compared to mid-sized (4%) and large companies (9%).  
  • In-office employees experience significantly less flexibility around working hours than hybrid workers. Hybrid workers have nearly four times more access to flexibility around core working hours (71% compared to 18%), greater than three times more access to flexibility in the days they work (70% compared to 21%), and over 70% more access to full-choice in when they work compared to completely in-office employees.  

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