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The State of Hybrid Work : Insights from Google’s Global Survey

Posted by James on 06 Jan 2022

According to the research by Economist Impact, individual wellbeing and new technologies that allow for time and location flexibility, are among the top concerns and trends to what it will take to sustain a hybrid work model. 


2021 into 2022 has shown hybrid is now the dominant model for work, and it is looking highly likely it’s here to stay, although, there are some gaps.


In October 2021, Google Workspace commissioned Economist Impact to complete a global survey on the state of hybrid work, focusing on its opportunities and challenges. Like us, you are probably well aware of how the recent pandemic has changed the world of work, but this survey emphasises the scale, reach and longevity of those changes. 


Within the next three years, 75% of those surveyed believe that hybrid working will be the normal practice within their businesses. Out of those surveyed, 70% said they had never worked remotely before the pandemic, showing that hybrid has become the dominant model for work.


There are also some rather large gaps that need to be addressed if hybrid is going to be sustainable and successful in the long term. 


What we have learnt from 2021, is that the term “hybrid working” has been defined slightly differently from previously. 


Brian Kropp, one of the interviewees and vice president at Gartner, puts it: “Hybrid work is not just about different locations, but also different timings and different schedules.”


Harriet Molyneaux, managing director at HSM Advisory, a future-of-work research and advisory group, adds to this by saying: “At one end of the spectrum is everyone in the office, nine till five, so both restricted time and location. And then at the other end of the spectrum is anywhere around the world at any time. So no restricted time or location. A hybrid is anything that sits in the middle of that.”


This shows that the working definition of hybrid working focuses on flexibility in both location and hours, “a spectrum of flexible work arrangements in which an employee’s work location and/or hours are not strictly standardised.”

So, what really lies ahead in the hybrid world?


  1. Individual wellbeing is coming at the cost of organisational connection

For the first three to four months in the pandemic, productivity remained steady, and in some cases, increased, but it came at a cost. With levels of burnout within employees spiking, as they tried juggling home life whilst integrating their work responsibilities. Wellbeing has made an upward shift, with data showing this has been aided by students returning to schools. The majority of those surveyed said that based on their own experiences, hybrid work can have a positive impact on the mental, physical, financial and social wellbeing of employees. 


The majority of those surveyed said they felt disconnected from their company and colleagues (57%), limited networking opportunities are negatively impacting their career growth (62%), and that limited social interactions with their colleagues has had a negative impact on their mental health (54%).

For hybrid working models to be sustainable and successful in the long term, the sense of disconnection in real and tangible ways needs to be addressed. Although 72% of people say that virtual meetings improve inclusion and participation, 68% also say there are too many virtual meetings to start with. There is a big need for new ways for colleagues to connect with each other. Reef allows your employees to invite each other to work from a variety of venues across the UK, increasing collaboration and reducing isolation. 

  1. Most tools used for hybrid working are built for a bygone desktop era

The number one choice globally when asked about the most important conditions to achieve the long term success of hybrid work models was “new technologies that allow for time and location flexibility.” This was great for Reef to see, since the whole reason for why the app was created was to help businesses with offering flexibility over location. Another concern of those surveyed was unreliable internet access. Reef and their partners make sure all venues have adequate Wi-Fi, with live WiFi speeds from venues coming in Phase Two of the Reef app. 


Hybrid in 2022

No one has all the answers on how to make the perfect hybrid work model, and we expect to see more and more tech coming out to help aid the move to a seamless hybrid workforce, as well as experimenting with the right mix of location, culture, processes and tools. 

Many businesses have said they cannot change long held behaviours, but Covid has taught us otherwise. The move to hybrid should be used as an opportunity to propel your business forward by focusing on what your employees want, aiding their wellbeing and thriving with purposeful technology investments.



*Survey details: The survey, completed in October 2021, polled a total of 1,244 employees and managers in four regions (North America, Europe, APAC, and Latin America), from more than 15 industries, in every age group, and from both small and large organizations. The focus was on knowledge workers, though it’s important to note that some of those people have been working on the frontlines; 20% of respondents indicated they haven’t worked remotely at all during the pandemic. This includes people in hospitality, retail, transportation and logistics, and healthcare.

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