Hybrid working: similarities and differences between 5 main sectors
In 2020 and 2021 we have set out a quantitative survey based on work environment satisfaction. The results from 2021 have less extreme ratings than the results from 2020: Fewer people were very satisfied with their work environment in 2021 compared to 2020. But there are also fewer people (very) dissatisfied. Significantly more people were neutral and satisfied in 2021. This is the average across five sectors, but between the sectors, we see significant differences.
The common thread is the same everywhere: during the pandemic, end-users indicate that they want to work more from home compared to the period before the pandemic. Within the five sectors, there are some differences in the results. In particular, about the location where respondents expect to work most effectively. This may be related to the specific activities carried out within the sectors. In addition, per sector, there are also differences in satisfaction with the work environment. In this research, we distinguish five main sectors:
– Public services
– Business services
Similarities and differences in public services
Among public service providers (including municipalities, housing corporations, and foundations) respondents indicated that before the pandemic they thought they worked in the office about 80 percent of the time. Subsequently, they think they can work most effectively if they work in the office for 50 percent of the time when it is safe to go back to the office. More end-users in this sector indicated that they expect to be able to work most effectively outside the office.
This outcome takes on more significance when we look at the nature of the work. In line with the general picture, we see that in the sector of public services solitary and complex activities are most effectively performed outside the office. For activities that require cooperation, you need to be in the office. It is striking that for meetings, relatively more respondents prefer to be in the office.
We also see that in 2021 over half of the public services are (very) satisfied with their work and work environment. However, compared to 2020, more people are (very) dissatisfied.
Similarities and differences in industry
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, respondents at office-based organizations in the industrial sector indicated that pre-pandemic they worked in-office for just under 70 percent of the workweek. A majority of respondents expect that when it is safe to return back to the office, they will still continue to work from home or elsewhere. Only 43 percent work more effectively in the office.
Within this sector, the shift to working from home has a positive effect on the overall satisfaction of respondents. The proportion of individuals who are neutral or dissatisfied with the work environment has decreased and the number of individuals who are (very) satisfied has increased.
Similarities and differences in government
In government (excluding municipalities), respondents estimated that pre-pandemic about 65 percent of the time was spent in-office. In the future, they expect that for a little under 50 percent of the time the office will be the location to perform work most effectively.
In line with the general trend within the government sector, it is also the case that solitary activities that require concentration in particular (writing, reading, and analysis) are identified as activities that are best performed at home. Coaching, brainstorming, and (one-to-one) conversations are activities that are better performed at the office. In the case of meeting and coordinating, there is a strong preference for the office.
Compared to other sectors, respondents in the public sector in 2020 were the most satisfied with their work and work environment. As many as 85 percent indicated they were (very) satisfied. That score dropped sharply in 2021. Now only 65 percent of respondents say they are (very) satisfied.
Similarities and differences in business services
In business services, it was thought that before the pandemic about 80 percent of the time was spent in-office. This is in line with the trend across all sectors in Europe and North America. When it is safe to return to the office again, one expects that for 50 percent of the time, the office is where to work most effectively.
Also in this sector, solo activities that require concentration are increasingly preferred to be performed at home or elsewhere. Even though this preference in business services is much more moderate than in other sectors. More so than in other sectors, respondents in business services have a preference for working at the office when it comes to activities that require interaction such as meetings, coaching, brainstorming, and having (one-on-one) conversations.
The relatively strong preference for working in an office may also influence the overall satisfaction with the work environment. While in other sectors it is a matter of small shifts, a clear turnaround can be seen in business services. In 2020, the majority of respondents were satisfied with the work environment. This satisfaction decreased significantly in 2021, with the majority of respondents indicating they were neutral about the work environment. However, it is striking that the amount of people who are (very) dissatisfied has also decreased.
Similarities and differences in healthcare
Also in the healthcare sector, a clear shift can be observed in the preference for a workplace before and after the pandemic. The vast majority (approximately 90%) of respondents worked in an office before the COVID-19 outbreak. This can be traced back to the work activities that are performed. Since the outbreak, the majority of respondents have found the office to be the most effective workplace. Over 55% of the workweek is preferably spent in the office in order to work most effectively.
The shift into working from home in this sector is reflected in the overall satisfaction with the work environment. In 2020, the majority of respondents were (very) satisfied with the work environment. The representation of 2021 contrasts sharply with this: the number of people who are (very) satisfied with the work environment has declined sharply. The number of people who are neutral and dissatisfied has increased sharply.
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