58% of Americans have hybrid work options, but challenges remain

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Ninety-two million (58%) Americans have the option of working from home part-time, the third edition of McKinsey’s American Opportunity Survey found. However, workers in the United States face critical inequalities and differences; the opportunity for a hybrid job is not the same for everyone.

As hybrid working continues to spread across nearly every sector and industry, with 35% of respondents reporting the ability to work from home five days a week, men report better remote work opportunities than women . In addition, younger, higher income and better educated workers are favored by the labor market.

The survey found that workers of different genders, ethnicities, ages, education and income levels, in significant percentages, all want to work from home.

Hybrid work: Differences and inequalities

Demographic charts from McKinsey's American Opportunity Survey.
McKinsey’s US Opportunities Survey.

The McKinsey report found that 61% of men say they’ve been offered a remote work opportunity, while only 52% of women and 32% of transgender/non-binary people say they’ve been offered work options. flexible.

Age is another differentiating factor. Sixty-four percent of people aged 25-34 were offered a hybrid role, compared to 58% of people aged 35-54 and just 48% of people aged 55-64.

Workers with advanced degrees are favored by hybrid employers, survey finds, with 76% saying they’ve been offered a hybrid job, compared to just 50% for associate degrees and 48% for workers with a college education.

Finally, 75% of high-income workers, earning more than $150,000 a year, were offered a hybrid job, compared to only 56% of those earning between $50,000 and $74,999.

McKinsey is not the only organization to have discovered hybrid work inequalities in the US labor market. In February 2022, the Pew Research Center also found concerning differences.

“A higher proportion of high-income workers (67%) work from home compared to middle-income (56%) and low-income (53%) workers,” said the Pew Research Center.

According to Pew Research, a college degree is also a determining factor. Sixty-five percent of college graduates are more likely to have a remote work option, compared with just 53 percent of people without a four-year college degree saying they work from home all or most of the time.

Workers’ concerns about exposure to the coronavirus have diminished. Less than half, around 42% of workers cite this as a problem. Pew Research added that political differences also shape the hybrid work environment. Half of Democrats cite concerns about exposure to the coronavirus as an important reason for choosing to work from home, while just 25% of Republicans feel the same way.

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The face-to-face return to the office

In early 2022, companies began calling their employees back to offices as the pandemic approached its second anniversary.

Top-level decision-makers are facing unprecedented times. With most workers now used to working from home, businesses are dealing with an economic downturn, supply chain disruptions, inflation and a looming recession.

The Microsoft Annual Work Trend Index report found that 54% of executives say the shift to hybrid working has had a negative impact on productivity.

Citigroup, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and recently SpaceX and Tesla are just a few of the big names that have rushed workers to the office. Some of these companies have managed a successful return to work, others have created tensions within their workforce.

Microsoft’s report added that 50% of executives say their company needs – or intends to require – full-time, in-person work in 2022. The manufacturing, retail, and consumer goods have the highest expectations for in-person work, all defined above. 53%.

Companies’ return-to-work plans are meeting with resistance and contrasting with workers’ expectations. According to the McKinsey survey, 87% of people would choose flexible work options.

The shift from blue-collar workers to hybrid working

Flexible working by industry chart.
Image: McKinsey US Opportunities Survey

Industry and job type is one of the most critical inequity-creating factors for hybrid or remote work opportunities. Essential workers – from retail to healthcare and law enforcement – ​​have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, keeping the economy, supply chains and essential services running, while the world was going into extended shutdowns. Meanwhile, other nonessential blue-collar industries that require in-person workers have struggled.

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The new McKinsey report has revealed that could change. According to their survey, blue-collar jobs are also shifting to hybrid working.

“What makes these numbers particularly remarkable is that respondents work in all kinds of jobs, in all parts of the country and in all sectors of the economy, including jobs traditionally labeled ‘blue collar’. which may also require on-site labor such as ‘white collar’ occupations,” McKinsey said.

New trends such as hybrid education and telemedicine have led to a transformation within their sectors. About half of education and library workers and 45% of healthcare professionals report doing remote work. The McKinsey survey assured that even food preparation and transport professionals sometimes work from home, and that there is a rapid and continuous digital transformation that affects all industries, “even those with weak models. working from home”.

Key points: Employers and workers

Graphic representation of American workers who can work from home.
Image: McKinsey US Opportunities Survey

With this new survey, employers are once again reminded that workers prefer hybrid work opportunities. “When offered, almost everyone seizes the opportunity to work flexibly,” the survey notes.

While large corporations are undoubtedly leading a trend of partial or full return to the office, policies need to be carefully considered as they can lead to tension between workers and affect talent retention and the acquisition of new talent.

In a labor market with high labor demand, employers need to understand the flexibility expectations of talent pools. McKinsey recommends employers invest in technology and create integrated workspaces that can accommodate both onsite and remote workers.

Remote workers also face obstacles due to inadequate remote working conditions. Workers who have parental demands often define a work environment that does not establish a work-life balance as hostile. Additionally, a back-to-back schedule filled with video meetings and the inability to truly connect with managers and teams was repeatedly highlighted as unfavorable and performance-affecting, often leading to mental and physical health issues.

Workers with children also cite the need for companies to include policies that accommodate parental requirements. Work environments that do not allow for work-life balance are seen as hostile by workers.

“Given workers’ desire for flexibility, employers may need to explore ways to provide the flexibility employees want to compete effectively for talent,” the McKinsey survey said.

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