Hybrid working, which gained traction over the course of the pandemic, is not just about convenience. It builds an ecosystem that makes employees feel productive, flexible, and happy, according to a Cisco study. An improved work-life balance left an astounding 82 per cent of employees the world over feeling happier, revealed the study, titled “Employees are ready for hybrid work, are you?”
“While initially, many employees were challenged by the sudden shift to hybrid and remote working arrangements, our study shows that two years on, as businesses have pivoted to survive, hybrid work has yielded many positive and lasting benefits for both employers and employees,” said Cisco in its report. “In fact, this mode of working has become the norm and is set to stay.”
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Cisco undertook a double-blind survey of 28,025 full time employees between January and March 2022. The respondents were drawn from 27 markets touching every continent other than Antarctica. The industries they belonged to range from agriculture, consumer goods, energy and manufacturing to healthcare, IT, media and tourism & hospitality.
The survey assessed responses in terms of performance (work quality, productivity, skills, etc), work-life balance, overall well-being, financial well-being, physical well-being, social well-being, and emotional and mental well-being.
The finding revealed that while hybrid work has left organisations benefiting from higher employee productivity levels, 61 per cent of the employees believe “that quality of work has improved”. Cisco’s study also revealed that 76 per cent feel their role can now be performed just as successfully remotely as in the office.
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Time away from the office has been found to have improved work-life balance for 79 per cent of employees. The time savings were significant. More flexible work schedules (62 per cent) and significantly reduced or completely removed commuting times (53 per cent) contributed largely to this improvement. In absolute terms, 64 per cent saved at least four hours a week from remote work, while 26 per cent saved eight or more hours a week.
The money savings were substantial, too. Around 76 per cent of the respondents said remote work boosted their domestic finances. The average saving was pegged at over $150 a week, which comes to about $8,000 a year, the report said.
Health and fitness levels also gained from hybrid work, the survey found. Around 68 per cent of the respondents said their physical fitness improved with remote working. There’s more time to work out, the impression goes. About 71 per cent said they exercise more regularly now that they do not work from the office everyday. A similar number — 68 per cent — said they’re eating better, too. For 55 per cent of the respondents, hybrid working has helped decrease their stress levels.
The India story
The Cisco survey gives country-wise figures, too. Hybrid working was found to have improved the overall well-being for 91 per cent of the 1,000 Indian employees who participated in the survey. The time away from the office improved work-life balance for 89 per cent of them. Also, 90 per cent of Indian employees said they are happier due to hybrid work.
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The financial savings are substantial, said the report. Around 92 per cent of Indian employees said they saved money in the last 12 months while working remotely. Further, around 17 per cent said they have had an income increase. Around 84 per cent of Indian employees saved on commuting costs while 65.2 per cent scaled down their food and entertainment spend.
In terms of health improvement, 72 per cent of Indian employees said hybrid working has enhanced their physical wellbeing, while 82 per cent said their eating habits are far better now.
Room for improvement
The survey findings did suggest that employers worldwide need to do more to build an inclusive culture to support hybrid work. They need to fully embed hybrid work arrangements to boost readiness levels and enhance employee experience, it said.
Just a quarter of the employees who were survey said their company is ‘very prepared’ for a hybrid work future. Anupam Trehan, Senior Director, People & Communities, Cisco APJC, said: “It is clear that hybrid working is here to stay, and for good reason as employees and businesses alike see tangible benefits across key indicators – from improved overall employee wellbeing to better productivity and work performance.”
“Nonetheless, more needs to be done to fully leverage the opportunities of a hybrid work future, particularly in building an inclusive culture, devising employee engagement strategies, and deploying technology infrastructure to bring organisations to the readiness levels of their employees,” he added.
Also, around 55 per cent of those surveyed said hybrid and remote work have increased micromanaging behaviours.