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The world of work, as considered by political leaning, location, employee motivation, and even happiness. Why do we care?

Lots to talk about today as it relates to work and workers. 

Let’s start with data published by CIO Dive.  

The vast majority of a group of 510 employers with a flexible work program in place, 70%, plan to adopt a hybrid work model, while 20% will return to a predominately office-based model, according to a May survey by HR consulting firm Mercer. 

Fewer respondents said they would adopt a virtual-first, fully remote or distributed model, according to Mercer. While 97% said they were planning to implement post-pandemic changes to flexible working, fewer than half were actively deploying their strategies.

Full-time, on-site employees will account for 40% of the average workforce among 430 of the employers surveyed, while an average of 29% will consist of those working remotely one to two days per week. Mercer researchers also suggested that employers look for ways to embrace flexibility beyond remote work, such as adopting flexible schedules or compressed workweeks.

Here’s another slice of data – in a survey by Vox and Data for Progress, turns out political leaning is an angle on it.   Most Americans approve of working from home – and turns out, Democrats more so.    To be clar, both are overwhelmingly supportive – Democrats at 89%, and Republicans at 81%.      On each question, Republicans are just somewhat less likely to approve.   Less likely to say remote workers labored as hard, or that they were equally or more productive than non-remote workers.   

Which leads to the question – does location matter?   KPMG asked – and when asking if Silicon Valley will retain its position. a third said yes, and a third said no.     22% said they believe hubs are no longer important, and twice that (39%) think employees will continue to gather in large, tech friendly cities. 

But the next theme – happiness.

The Brand Guild surveyed about 1,000 Americans about their attitudes toward work-life balance and found that just about a quarter ranked work as the most important aspect of their life, down from nearly a third before the pandemic.

Work in fact came last, with 43% of those surveyed prioritizing living and 31% prioritizing play.

“Living” encompasses a renewed focus on family, friends and home — with extra emphasis put on houses and apartments that have space, outdoor areas and amenities.

It’s easy to figure out why – the pandemic.    Haystack asked software engineers about their stress, and in a June 2021 survey 55% of 278 software engineers in the United Kingdom feel at least moderately burned-out at work.   The top reasons for feeling this way are too much work and personal stress but dig deeper and they are really about work and personal expectations.

Females are 16 percentage points more likely than males to be “burned out” from work, but men are 16 percentage points more likely to cite a “high workload” as the reason for feeling this way, whereas females’ point to “unrealistic demands” on the part of management (Non-binary individuals were not accounted into this survey)

As we consider that, Google employees aren’t happy.  There is a stirring anger over policies on remote work, particularly as a senior executive indicated he’s moving to New Zealand, in an apparent set of special treatment.  

Apple employees aren’t happy either.    An internal letter reported on by Recode has employees asking for work from home full time, with some restrictions.  This is the second petition letter in two months.           And, Apple itself has pushed back its return to the office deadline to October, responding to the resurgence of COVID variants.   That per Bloomberg.

Why do we care?

The search for “the” answer is what interests me most, because my belief is there isn’t a single one.  

Americans saying work is the top priority dropping by a third is a headline.   

I maintain that we’re marching towards the inevitable faceoff between employee and employers in  many, many cases.     It seems there is this management idea that everything will just fall back to what they want it to be…. When the data is screaming that employees are going to make decisions that are larger than just what their employer wants.

When an individual is reprioritizing their entire life, and deciding what is most important and it isn’t work, then they will make choices outside the scope of an employeer.

The opportunity here remains for those companies with leaders who chart their own path and find their values, what works for them.     The political data tells me that one size does NOT fit all – who your employees are and what makes up that demographic will guide you.   Location, political leanings, culture, type of position, age of employee and experience needed, and the like all guide here.

And those who help match those needs with the technology that best enables them, combining the business AND the technology with culture decisions, will have a fantastic market.