Mitel Work 2024

Remote, Hybrid, or In-Person? The State of Work in 2024

4 min read

April 29, 2024

From the office to home and back again – in the four years since the start of the pandemic, companies have explored the options between in-person and remote work, trying to find the ideal balance for maximum employee happiness and productivity.

At the beginning of 2023, business leaders made a hard push for the office, even offering extravagant incentives to employees who were reluctant to return. Now, that push has softened, with companies continuing to shift back to the office but allowing employees to work from home a few days a week.

The flexibility of remote and hybrid work scheduling has permanently changed the work landscape, but the new normal varies widely across different demographics and industries. Employees' ability and preference to work in person or on-site depends greatly on whether they’re given the support and technology — like unified communications tools — to work seamlessly in any location.

Remote, Hybrid, or In-Person: Who’s Working Where?

Despite all the attention around remote work, only about 15 million, or 10%, of Americans worked exclusively from home in March 2024. An additional 14 million worked hybrid schedules, while most employees were fully in-person. Additionally, the majority of employees (60%) with remote-capable jobs prefer a hybrid schedule. 

Specific industries and positions are more naturally suited to remote work. Knowledge- or computer-based jobs can be done anywhere, while frontline and industrial workers must be on-site. Remote-friendly industries in 2024 are:

  • Computer and IT
  • Marketing
  • Accounting and finance
  • Project management
  • Medical and health
  • Human resources and recruiting
  • Customer service

Due to the nature of these positions, remote and hybrid employees tend to have higher levels of education than workers whose jobs require them to be on-site. They also tend to be older and more established than their peers, drawing higher-than-average salaries.

Younger employees (who entered the workforce during the pandemic) are more likely to want to go to the office. They want to experience the benefits of in-person work, like socialization with coworkers, mentorship, and career opportunities. Meanwhile, Millennials and Gen Xers, who are more likely to have families, prefer the flexibility of hybrid work schedules.

You Decide: Pros and Cons of New Grads Working from Home >

Flexible Locations: Geographic Trends

While some jobs can be carried out anywhere, certain areas offer more support to digital nomads than others. Many countries provide remote work visa programs, while others have passed legislation to protect workers’ rights, including regulations for flexible working conditions in the UK.

In general, European employers offer more hybrid or remote positions than companies in the US. In the UK, hybrid jobs accounted for 45% of LinkedIn listings, compared to only 13% in the US.

The availability of flexible jobs varies widely depending on the US state, with the Northeast and West Coast more likely to offer remote or hybrid work schedules than the South and Midwest. The states with the highest percentage of companies offering location flexibility are:

  • Massachusetts
  • Washington
  • Colorado
  • Oregon
  • California

As the new work model continues to evolve, companies in locations that foster flexibility and support their digital workforces will have a competitive advantage in attracting top talent.

The Gender Gap in Remote Work

Many women embraced remote work, partly because they’re more likely to have remote-capable jobs. They’re also more likely to manage caregiving responsibilities. Mothers of young children are more likely to work from home, especially with the rising childcare costs. Flexible schedules can enable women to remain in the workforce.

However, working from home while caring for their families may make some women feel burned out. They may also fear that remote work can cost them valuable time with colleagues and bosses, miss chances for promotions, and hinder their careers. Employers must work to close the gender gap and support their employees with the right tools and strategies so they don’t miss out on significant opportunities.

Don’t Miss: 5 Ways to Support Working Parents in a Hybrid World >

Employees with Disabilities Benefit from Remote Work

Remote work has made the labor market more accessible to employees with disabilities, and the number of workers in this category has increased over the past few years. People with disabilities are 22% more likely to work entirely remotely than their colleagues without disabilities and are slightly more likely to have a hybrid work schedule.

Working from home allows employees with disabilities to focus on their jobs without the added mental and physical labor of navigating commutes or dealing with accessibility issues at the office. However, employers should still ensure employees have all the accommodations they need for equal opportunities at home and in person.

The Reformed Office Functions Differently than Before

The pandemic emptied traditional urban centers. Employers are moving their companies from pricey business districts to smaller, more affordable spaces closer to their employees and clients. Many workers moved to the suburbs during the pandemic, and returning to their original offices would mean prohibitively long commutes or expensive relocations.

Once large, busy buildings filled with desks and deals, modern office spaces now have a different function. Hybrid work schedules mean that only a percentage of employees will be in the office on any given day, so businesses are condensing their physical footprint to save on costs. Twenty percent of US office space – a record high – was available during Q1 2024, while the number of leases over 100,000 square feet dropped by almost half compared to 2023.

Instead, collaboration has gone virtual, with many offices designed to support in-person workers and remote employees. Meeting rooms have immersive video conferencing setups with speakers, cameras, and smart screens to close the gap between geographically dispersed colleagues. Companies are supplying their remote workers with the same communications solutions they use at the office for a seamless hybrid experience.

Read: Empty Offices and Busy Neighborhoods: The Post-Pandemic Hybrid City > 

Small Businesses Have it Both Ways

The new mode of working has allowed small business owners to address the role the office plays in their operations. Many have relocated to smaller offices or have gone permanently remote altogether. This flexibility allows them to meet with clients in different settings and attract a larger talent pool.

On the other hand, smaller banks are asking their employees to work in person, hoping to foster camaraderie in close quarters. Nearly one-third of small banks require their staff to be in the office full-time, compared to just 4% of banks with 5,000 or more employees. Consequently, employees might leave smaller firms for more flexible schedules at larger lenders.

Communications Solutions for the Future of Work

Four years into the new work landscape, virtual meetings still have some room for improvement. Thirty percent of employees feel virtual meetings are less effective than those held in-person, while 52% believe there’s no difference. Only 18% think virtual meetings are more effective. However, with the right unified communications and collaboration tools to connect remote, hybrid, and on-site employees, the digital workspace can be a powerful place for colleagues to connect and create.

An all-in-one collaboration platform with audio web conferencing, video calling, direct messaging, group chat, and file sharing fosters real-time collaboration across locations. Employees can work together from their preferred platform, no matter where they are, with collaborate-from-anywhere communications solutions.

One of the most remote-friendly fields, customer service benefits from omnichannel contact center platforms. With flexible deployment options and real-time dashboards that work on any device, agents can expertly assist clients from on-premise or virtual locations.

When implemented thoughtfully, these technologies enhance employee productivity, inclusion, and cohesion, ensuring every person can perform at their highest ability from any location. Contact us to learn how to empower your remote, hybrid, and in-person teams with Mitel’s communications and collaboration solutions.

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