Hybrid work has become commonplace for many Aussie workers since the pandemic forced companies to introduce flexible working arrangements.
But now, 54 per cent of Aussies have reported they never intend to return to the office full-time, according to research commissioned by workplace design consultancy Future X Collective.
A further 24 per cent said they would actively seek another job if their company forced them back into the office.
“The momentum to return to the office, even in a hybrid nature, has slowed significantly in the past month,” Future X Collective co-founder Angela Ferguson said.
According to the research, 43 per cent Australians reported working in a hybrid rhythm, while 15 per cent said they valued their autonomy and flexibility too much to consider working two-three days in the office again.
Several respondents expressed that they were more productive at home, while others said the cost and time of travel were their biggest deterrent to returning to the office.
Employees said the main draw cards to come back into the office (even in a hybrid capacity) was an increase in their salary - with 40 per cent of workers saying that was their top preference.
A further 15 per cent said knowing their colleagues would also be in the office would entice them to come back, and 14 per cent said they would be willing to come in if their travel and lunch costs were reimbursed.
“We know that most businesses need employees to come into the office at least two-three days of the week to help foster a sense of collaboration and culture,” Ferguson said.
“While offering an increase in salary may not be possible for many companies, especially with experts predicting a recession is looming, it is promising to see that the research highlights that there are ways employers can encourage staff into the office in a more regular and permanent hybrid rhythm without needing to make drastic changes.”
Based on the findings, Future X Collective found three key tips for businesses to create a hybrid working policy that met employee needs and was sure to stay permanent, and that went above and beyond salary.
Create ‘Together’ Days
The research found that Australian workers desired an inspiring working environment and for their colleagues to be in the office with them when they were working.
Naturally, this would require people to be physically present in the office.
Workplace culture is largely reliant on people to create an environment that is inspiring and productive for their fellow colleagues.
Having some mandatory days where staff must be in the office helped provide consistency, built a sense of togetherness, and drove social connection and collaboration, the research found.
Consider what your workplace offers
To entice employees into a permanent hybrid rhythm, businesses must consider how to create a compelling experience for workers.
Future X Collective said the office should be different from home and offer something extra to people.
Social and learning events are a great way to encourage people back to the office.
This can include regular team lunches or milestone celebrations such as work anniversaries, and in-person learning related to wellness topics.
“It’s often not until people physically return to the office in a more consistent nature to see their colleagues face to face, that they realise what they’ve been missing while working from home,” Ferguson said.
Ask your team
The best way to support your team to design their own experience of hybrid working was to ask them, the research found.
Creating engaging and interactive online workshops can help to capture sentiment and hopes for the future.
People in the workshop can see the outcomes as the workshop progresses, providing instant results and visual feedback.