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Jabra Hybrid
Ways of Working:
2021 Global
Report

New research by Jabra uncovers key workforce trends in the shift to hybrid as we navigate these new ways of working.

Embracing the hybrid wave

The world of work is going through a marked change, and we’re at a pivotal moment. Though more gradual and planned than the pandemic-induced shift to remote work in 2020, the shift to hybrid work is likely to be the biggest permanent shift in work culture for an entire generation. In our 2021 Hybrid Ways of Working Global Report, we unpack the key trends affecting businesses, as we navigate this seismic change.

Leading from the front

At Jabra, although many of us have been working flexibly for years, we’re now navigating the shift to hybrid working across our wider global workforce, and like many companies, evolving our strategy as we learn. Although last year’s sudden shift to remote work was disruptive, we learned that it was not only possible, but beneficial to work even more flexibly.

Reading the room

To help organizations leverage these unique opportunities for themselves, the 2021 Jabra Hybrid Ways of Working Global Report unpacks the findings from a study of more than 5000 knowledge workers in five key countries around the world.

And because employees are those most impacted by the transition to hybrid ways of working, we’ve highlighted some of their most illuminating perspectives on topics covering the future of the office, inclusion, and equity in hybrid models, as well as how employees view trust, culture, and teamwork in a work-from-anywhere future.

There’s much more to discover

Read the full report to explore these insights and expert perspectives in more depth, and to understand the key points for consideration as you map out your hybrid working future.

Download the full report

Jabra hybrid Ways of working: 2021 Global Report

The trends

Location
Leadership
People

Location

While 2020 taught us many lessons, the biggest shift to our working lives was location-based. We shifted our primary work location from the office to home, and realized that with the right tools, we could be productive and maintain business continuity throughout remote working.

So much so, that most employees now consider the majority of their tasks as possible from home. Our research showed that knowledge workers feel most tasks can be better accomplished from home, with the exception of collaborative work, where engagement, socializing, meetings, and onboarding new employees are considered far more effective in person.

Here are the key location-based trends impacting the future of the office and where employees get their best work done.

01

Offices spaces will be seen as an added resource for social and collaborative tasks

Knowledge workers primarily want to use offices for collaborating in meetings, socializing and training team members, or onboarding new employees. For many though, the office will center around informal collaboration opportunities, with 71% of the global workforce seeing the office as a social amenity, while independent work will happen off-site.

Office spaces are a clear preference
for social and collaborative tasks

In order to maximize the resource of an office, employees should experience something special that you couldn’t accomplish at home. First and foremost, the office is not the primary place to work. That’s a very important message companies should provide to employees. There are other more important reasons we want people to come back to the office. It’s a place where you act as a team and where you come together with your coworkers. It’s about coming together and getting “we” work done together, not “me” work. It’s about building culture and camaraderie. Holger Reisinger,
SVP, Jabra

Next Steps

Organizations should consider the value of unstructured interactions and informal collaboration in the office and how much their teams will benefit from information exchange or networking. This requires rethinking how offices are designed and how to guide employees on their use.

Flexible hot-desking arrangements, dedicated collaboration spaces with whiteboards, and library-like zones, are all examples of different zones you should look at creating in your new office layout. By creating this campus feel, you can facilitatethe type of hybrid environment that brings employees together in offices again for the right type of face-toface interaction.

73%

agree that "in the future, having office space will be considered an employee benefit rather than a mandatory way of working”

02

First impressions count
– reasons for return could
potentially be misread

For many people, a desire to return to work might not be because of the reasons managers think. The dominant pain points for remote workers are reduced team connectivity and motivation, as well as equipment challenges, but this may be because of poor organizational support helping employees adapt with the remote working transition.

Rather than mandating a return to the office, we need to enable people to work from anywhere, and then positively say that it’s okay to come into an office space however often or not they want to. Holger Reisinger,
SVP, Jabra

Employees are more likely to request more days working in office – 3 days or more a week – if their company did not do a good job transitioning to remote work during the pandemic, with 17% wanting to be in the office full time, compared to 14% for those who had a good experience with the remote work transition.

Because of this, organizations should not jump to the conclusion that employees want to come back to the office because leadership has created an accommodating space for work and culture; it could just as likely mean that lacking trust and support for flexible remote work created greater challenges.

Work from home challenges
differ around the world

52%

agree that “in the future, having office space will be considered an employee benefit rather than a mandatory way of working”

France & Japan
Lack of work and
home boundaries

USA, UK, Germany
Lack of connection with my
team and feeling isolated

Next Steps

In formalizing hybrid-work strategies and agreements, make sure to understand the driving factors and uses for which employees want to return to the office. Our research confirms the findings of many other studies that show that those in senior leadership positions usually display higher confidence levels in returning to the office than employees. In this light, it is key to understand that home working challenges do not directly correspond to return-to-office drivers.

Leadership

The puzzle of hybrid work poses one of the greatest management challenges of modern times. Capitalizing on the benefits of flexible and remote work, while re-utilizing the office as a renewed resource is a complex problem to solve in order to enable an equitable workforce. Hybrid itself is not a remedy; there will be a spectrum of implementation, and it is up to leaders to align and evangelize healthy practices that work for a specific company in order to foster high performing teams of individuals.

While each organization needs to consider its own unique needs to optimize hybrid work productivity, standardizing these practices such that they meet the unique complexity of each employee’s ideal hybrid working preferences is a challenge. Threading the hybrid needle will require new leadership perspectives built on the insight of knowledge-worker preferences and viewpoints.

01

Organizations must communicate clear principles, but will suffer from policies

Much of the complexity for management lies in designing return to the office policies that maintain employee autonomy and flexibility while still encouraging ways to bring people together for meaningful activities. Three in four knowledge workers say they have concerns around a hybrid work future (74%), but most of the reasons driving this come down to sound leadership and communication practices.

3 in 4 have concerns around
a hybrid-work future

While knowledge workers are seeking clear guidance on company-wide expectations for hybrid work, they still desire flexibility and autonomy to make individual decisions on how best to get their jobs done. Majorities believe managers can make a hybrid work environment as comfortable as possible by allowing team members to set their own schedule (65%), instead of holding standard 9-to-5 working hours (35%). A similar percentage would prefer that management allows team members to come into the office when they need to and work from home when they need to (61%), over setting “in office” and “at home” days each week for the team (39%).

Top 3 concerns about hybrid working future

Lack of clear expectations around when or how often to go into the office or what type of work to go in for

28%

Lack of consistency of hybrid working best practices across my company

26%

Lack of equal opportunities for employees who chose to work from home more often

25%

The majority also see a path forward for companies to solve these complex issues, most notably with simple steps, such as establishing clear guidelines on when to go into the office and setting clear expectations for communications and reporting. Rather than setting formal policies in place, leadership should focus on creating high-trust environments in which principles and guidelines are communicated, making expectations clear for employees while allowing them to retain autonomy and maximize their flexible working arrangements.

Top 3 requests for leadership in hybrid

Establish clear guidelines around when to go into the office

39%

Set clear expectations for communications and reporting

35%

Communicate consistent company-wide expectatoins for hybrid work

34%
Generally, people appreciate clear guidelines. If it’s only about policies, you are missing a human element. But if you have guiding principles, you are communicating that you trust people to do what is best. When leaders are very strict on saying what people should not do, employees get more concerned and have a higher need for reassurance, which stalls productivity. Having too many strict rules makes things complicated and frustrates people. People can really deal very well with autonomy, and they appreciate the flexibility. Holger Reisinger,
SVP, Jabra
02

Companies that consult employees will win in the long run

Throughout the pandemic, leading organizations have communicated more consistently with their employees, and equally listened to the input and feedback from managers and teams undergoing the transition to remote work. Now, as the shift to hybrid is implemented, 86% of employees think that careful work guidelines are needed for an equitable hybrid workplace.

Considering the opinions of multiple stakeholder groups can be a complex process, but 85% of all knowledge workers we surveyed would value consultation before implementing any hybrid working practices. Companies that consult with employees are likely to see more success in hybrid. And even if they don’t agree with all of them, consulting with employees will lead to higher satisfaction with new practices and broader buy-in and adoption into hybrid ways of working.

Almost everyone has been forced to adjust their schedules, which for many means a permanent rearrangement of their private life, homeschooling children, or taking care of older family members. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to organizational management. Each company, each team, and each individual will have to figure out what works best. It will be an iterative process requiring patience and compromise from all. Holger Reisinger,
SVP, Jabra

People

The pandemic disruption affected every person uniquely, and made work much more personal for everyone, as the boundaries blurred between our home and working lives. To help people thrive in more flexible working environments, every organization needs to plan processes and guidelines that drive a people-first agenda. This means emphasizing empathy, culture, and the tools and training needed for a work from anywhere future.

These are the key insights from our research that can be used when considering your people practices in hybrid work.

01

Flexible working is more important than salary and other benefits

For many knowledge workers, it is not just the ability to work from either home or office, but the ability to work from anywhere, that is a true differentiator. With 75% of knowledge workers wanting to work from wherever they are in the future, organizations need to rethink benefit structures to remain competitive.

Flexibility is so important to the workforce that 59% of knowledge workers assert that it is more important to them than salary and other benefits. With employees able to access a broader range of employment options, the fundamentals of labor supply and demand have shifted in employees’ favor. Hybrid work has catalyzed a power shift from organizations to employees and employees have realized that there is a smarter way to work and a more tailored way to integrate their personal and professional lives with flexibility.

At Jabra, many of us have been working flexibly for years, and with hybrid work we’re excited to be navigating this at greater scale. As a global organization, high trust has always been key to giving our employees the freedom to work anywhere. We’re used to collaborating in meeting rooms, virtually, in hybrid situations, through time zones, and across borders. If you couple this attitude with the right technology and train your leaders how to effectively manage hybrid teams, you can attract top talent from anywhere in the world by promising them the flexibility they’re looking for. Holger Reisinger,
SVP, Jabra

Since the pandemic began, 48% of all employees surveyed globally have considered changing jobs. 81% have said that a hybrid work model will allow more intentional use of time and spaces in order to ultimately be more productive. As employee priorities change, and new ways of working are realized, organizations need to reconsider their workplace practices and benefits in order to remain competitive and attract the best talent.

81%

agree that "organization who embrace a hybrid model will have a competitive edge in the future”

Give people more autonomy to decide themselves where they are at their best, but leaders need to make equally sure that if employees choose to work from a location other than the headquarters, that they don’t feel left behind. Holger Reisinger,
SVP, Jabra
02

A hybrid working model with the right technology will lead to better employee mental well-being

While working remotely, anxiety levels rose, people worked far longer hours, and our research showed that lacking boundaries between our personal and professional lives consistently ranked as one of the biggest challenges around the world while working from home. During remote work, our research showed that sense of connection amongst teams decreased 28%, feelings of recognition decreased 17%, and employees’ feeling of closeness to their direct manager decreased 21%.

Conversely, nine in ten knowledge workers say a hybrid environment would either increase or maintain a sense of trust in their team (90%), the level to which they feel their employer cares about their well-being (89%), and the level of recognition they feel for their contributions (89%).

Emotional intelligence and empathy have never been more important; leaders need to get across via video that which traditionally has been done in person. They need to show, to really show, that they care about the well-being of their employees. This takes a foundation of well-trained people management practices, which can be further enhanced by data. Holger Reisinger,
SVP, Jabra

As the preferred model for the majority (68%) of employees, hybrid work can offer employees the flexibility to better balance their time, while technology coupled with clear guidelines can address the major concerns with hybrid work models and lead to higher performing teams with a healthier work-life balance.

Knowledge workers believe hybrid working will increase their work well-being

“ A hybrid work environment would increase or maintain”

Team connection

82%

Team morale

86%

Closeness to senior leadership

85%

Connection with manager

85%

Personal motivation

89%

Feeling of recognition

88%

Degree to which your employer cares about your wellbeing

90%

Sense of trust in your team

89%

Next Steps

One key action which leaders can take right now is to provide seamless collaboration solutions as well as opening up conversations about hybrid-work changes and employee well-being. When people have humanized collaboration experiences that make connecting from anywhere possible, it facilitates better inclusivity and teamwork. When leaders combine this with open team dialogues, it creates a common language and toolkit with which to address stress.

Download the full report

2021 Global Report