Research from Perkbox, the global benefits and rewards platform, has found that moves towards remote and hybrid working are changing the workplace experience for employees across the UK, with 57% feeling freer to be themselves in this environment.
This trend is particularly strong for women – 61% say they feel freer to be themselves when hybrid working compared to 51% of men – a sign that new forms of working are having a positive impact on workplace diversity. In fact, 55% of employees say that remote and hybrid working has been a huge step forward in supporting more diverse and inclusive working environments.
In addition, more than half (54%) report a better work life balance as a result of hybrid working, with the increased flexibility particularly valued by employees aged 25-44 (60%) who may be more likely to have caring responsibilities.
What’s more, the survey of over 2,000 full time-employees found people are being exposed to more of their organisation than ever, with almost two in five (38%) reporting they’ve met more colleagues from around the business since remote or hybrid working took hold.
However, despite the positive gains experienced by many, a survey of around 500 UK business leaders found more than one in four (28%) are concerned about retaining a strong sense of company culture amidst sustained remote and hybrid working. And one in three (34%) are concerned about keeping staff morale high, with fewer opportunities to socialise being available to workers.
The research suggests these concerns are not unfounded as many employees have seen key interactions of face-to-face working impacted by changing work practices:
- 53% think it’s harder to make friends at work amidst remote and hybrid working
- 31% report negative impacts on their mental or physical health, rising to 39% among 16–24-year-olds
- Many miss the informal elements of face-to-face working – 38% think hybrid working has reduced workplace gossip and that this is a negative thing and;
- 42% think the remote and hybrid world signals the end of the office romance – people won’t find romantic partnerships at work in a hybrid/remote world
“With more of us spread over different locations and working patterns, maintaining a strong and distinctive company culture is vital for businesses looking to keep their people motivated” says Gautam Sahgal, CEO, Perkbox. “It’s not just about how managers reward their people though. Empowering colleagues to connect with each other in different ways from any location will help to build bonds and create a more cohesive workforce.”
“One way to do this is to give employees greater control over their rewards and benefits. Platforms that allow people to share rewards with their teammates around the world is a great way to help them recognise the achievements and efforts of their colleagues and build a sense of mutual appreciation, shared purpose and togetherness.”
As employers embrace increasingly flexible and inclusive global working practices, Perkbox is urging HR leaders to incorporate a consistent and agile rewards experience into people strategies to ensure a sense of company culture and purpose is communicated to workforces, wherever they are.
Gautam continues: “The world of work has undeniably changed. Many of these changes are positive and give people greater control over their working patterns and more confidence in being their authentic selves at work. However, employers must stay vigilant to the impacts of reduced face to face time between employees. Ensuring that people continue to feel connected, supported and an integral part of their organisation’s culture will ultimately help to attract and retain the best talent.”
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