As remote work gains favor, employees' relationships to their jobs are in flux: Report

New research from collaboration platform Miro has found that employee priorities are changing, with clear generational divides emerging when it comes to deriving value from work.

New research from the visual collaboration platform Miro has found that employees' relationships with their work are in a state of flux, with a large majority of knowledge workers questioning where they want to work, the bonds they want to build with colleagues, and what they need and want from their job.

Having surveyed 2,053 knowledge workers across North America about their relationship with work, Miro found that while 90% of workers don’t want to be in the office full time, current hybrid workers are less likely to say their relationships with co-workers have improved, compared to before the pandemic.  

This doesn’t mean that those working outside the office for the majority of the working week don’t want to foster closer relationships with their colleagues. Many hybrid and remote workers are instead seeking out alternative methods of forming connections, now that those serendipitous water cooler conversations are harder to come by.

With only 33% of knowledge workers now coming into the office full-time, a figure that is down from 72% before the pandemic, Miro found that hybrid workers are 61% more likely than onsite workers to say that collaborating on work projects is the best way to strengthen connections on the job.

Additionally, 29% of hybrid workers polled say collaboration is the best way to build relationships with colleagues, compared to only 18% of those working onsite. This is due to the fact that while workers might have previously relied on causal office chats to build connections with co-workers, collaborating on projects at work is now their method of choice for developing and nurturing these relationships.

Miro’s research also found that organizations that help their employees to develop bonds with their co-workers are likely to see better retention rates. According to the data, of the 40% of respondents who aren’t planning to leave their job in the next year, their main reason for staying is the connections they’ve developed with their colleagues.

Furthermore, this trend plays out across the multitude of age groups that now make up the workforce, with both Gen Z and baby boomers—born in the years 1997-2010 and 1946-1964, respectively—saying that feeling connected to colleagues and not wanting to leave their teams is the top reason why they’re likely to remain at their job and unlikely to look for a role elsewhere in the next year.

High salary is not the only thing employees are now concerned with

As the high rate of inflation continues to have a wide-reaching impact, finding a job with a decent salary is a key concern for the majority of workers. However, Miro’s research shows that financial compensation is no longer the only deciding factor in taking a job, with location and time flexibility now high on the list of priorities for job seekers.

This is demonstrated by the fact that, of those surveyed, only 25% of Gen X and 24% of millennials—born in the years 1965-1980 and 1981-1996, respectively—say a salary drop would be the top deal breaker for accepting a dream job. For Gen Z and boomers, the research found they were most likely to decline a job opportunity if it required them to relocate, with 19% of Gen Z and 23% of boomers saying they would turn down their dream role if it meant having to move.

As workers continue to question what they want and need in a job, a generational divide has also developed when it comes to deriving value from work. Miro found that Gen Z and baby boomers are more likely to prioritize opportunities for growth and learning, with 42% of Gen Z and 37% of boomers reporting their relationships with managers have improved because they are encouraged to grow and develop professionally. In contrast, 40% of millennials and 47% of Gen X listed respect for work-life balance as the reason for improved relationships with managers.

In comments posted alongside the survey’s findings, Paul D’Arcy, Miro’s chief marketing officer, said that hybrid can be the best of both worlds, but only if leaders work strategically and intentionally to make it more human.

"In the face of fatigue and burnout, the social side of work—that is to say, our relationships with colleagues, managers, and leaders—can help keep people engaged and happy,” he said. “As we design our modern working models for durability, ‘The Ways We Work’ survey highlights the importance of including employees in the planning.”

He added that by striking the right balance between flexibility and autonomy and pushing for moments of deep connection and engaging collaboration, organizations can create a human-centric work culture that works for everyone.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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