69% of Businesses Operate Partially or Fully In-Person: 2022 Survey
Remote work arrangements have been gradually gaining popularity over the last 10 years as mobility in the workforce and the ability to achieve work/life balance became increasingly achievable goals for millennials and the up-and-coming Gen Z demographics groups due to technology advancements. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the American economic landscape in early 2020 and forced many brands to allow workers to work remotely, else close their doors to customers altogether, the workforce in support of remote work made a decade’s worth of progress in an instant.
Multiple studies have revealed the increased productivity and employee satisfaction due to remote work arrangements in industries and markets where it’s possible to work outside of the office. However, a number of challenges facing businesses, including increased cybersecurity risks, staffing shortages and retention issues, inconsistent vaccine requirements and quarantine mandates across communities and states have many brands pushing their workforce to accept at least a partial, if not full, return to the workplace. This is largely dependent upon the type of work being performed combined with regional pandemic prevention measures still in place.
UpCity partnered with Pollfish to conduct a survey of 600 business owners and HR professionals across the United States to discover the trends in remote work arrangements being abandoned in lieu of partial or full returns to the office space. We divided up our survey findings into the following discussions:
- Workplace Locations and Settings
- Workweek Structures
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Pros and Cons
- Flexible Workplace Plans: 2022 and Beyond
The extensive data set gathered by Pollfish for this survey came without the weight of direct input from respondents providing the reasoning or justifications to the work arrangements — remote, in-person, or a hybrid of the two. Therefore, we decided to enhance the discussion with direct input from additional small business owners and HR experts, intended to help you decide for yourself what arrangement might best meet your business needs, as well as those of your team, in 2022.
Workplace Locations and Settings
71% of both B2B and B2C businesses operated either partially or fully in-person pre-COVID
Prior to the pandemic outbreak, remote work was still gaining momentum and becoming an increasingly popular topic of conversation across the HR landscape as technological advances and software tools broke down many of the barriers and arguments against remote arrangements. Across the human resources field, professionals responsible for creating and protecting the company culture and establishing office attendance policies and procedures started to discuss and even entertain the concept that employees didn’t need to actually sit at a desk in the office in order to carry out the finer points of their jobs.
However, up until 2020, few industries had fully embraced the idea of a remote work arrangement or flexible attendance policy. Industries that had instituted remote work options prior to the pandemic were largely focused on financial services and business services, with managers, supervisors, and sales-focused workers being amongst the staff most likely to be working in a flexible or remote arrangement. Technology service providers also heavily leveraged remote work arrangements prior to the pandemic, with programmers and IT professionals easily able to manage their workloads outside of the office from the field.
71% – Fully or partially in-person
29% – 100% remote
69% of businesses are continuing to operate partially or fully in-person now in 2022
As quarantine measures ease in many areas, and employers feel that their workers are no longer at risk working at the office, a large portion of businesses have called their employees back into some version of pre-COVID office routines. In some cases, businesses have found that remote work arrangements are beneficial to their teams, and have chosen to continue the trend, hence the increase in 100% remote work being put into play by as much as 31% of our respondents.
69% – Fully or partially in-person
31% – 100% remote
In order to better understand the impact the pandemic has had on remote work strategies versus more traditional in-person arrangements, we reached out to small business leaders and human resource experts across industries to find out what strategies they’ve followed throughout the last two years.
“We recently adopted a hybrid work policy. Pre-pandemic, we used to work in the office full-time. When the pandemic started, we obviously moved to fully remote work. The company’s management and employees discovered multiple benefits of working from home that everybody wanted to keep. At the same time, the team needs to bond and sometimes have discussions and workshops, which are way more efficient offline, so we shifted to the hybrid setup.”
—Tom Greenspan, Founder, Vs Mattress
“Before the pandemic started, our company was operating in-person full-time. However, when the pandemic hit, we shifted to a remote setting in order to prioritize everyone’s health and safety. Now that offices are opening back up, we have started to shift to a hybrid workplace to slowly incorporate in-person operations.”
—Bob Scott, Founder, Sell Land
“We currently operate with a hybrid work policy. We actually launched early in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, so when we created our work policy, we knew we needed to focus on employee health and safety in addition to mental health. The circumstances of our launch were definitely challenging, but being an eCommerce business, we were able to schedule office time for our teams effectively.”
—Richard Clews, Founder, PantsandSocks.com
44% of B2B companies currently have 2-4 office locations. Meanwhile, 40% of B2C companies only operate from 1 office location
There are distinct differences in the ways B2B and B2C companies engage with their client bases, so this statistic actually makes quite a bit of sense. In order to best spread out their teams and improve their ability to engage with more businesses, business-to-business providers should be operating in the field and across several offices, as their businesses are often service-based or built around delivering products and solutions on-site to their business clients. Business-to-consumer operations rely on brick-and-mortar physical locations and a certain level of customer volume through those locations in order to be successful. Therefore, minimizing overhead and streamlining the customer experience are vital strategies for B2C companies.
|Primary Client Sizes||B2B Companies||B2C Companies|
|1 office location||37%||40%|
|2-4 office locations||44%||34%|
|5+ office locations||19%||25%|
We brought this question to the community to find out how many physical office locations they now maintained in order to gain insight as to their reasoning behind their current strategies relative to the physical workspace.
“Currently, my B2B business employs a hybrid working approach, and we have one physical office location in New Jersey.”
—Joshua Rich, CEO & Founder, bullseyelocations
“We don’t actually maintain a physical office. I operate a fully remote social analytics company. Before the pandemic, I meet up with some of my team members in a cafe or restaurant to discuss important business matters. During the pandemic, we all had to adjust and work remotely. This new work setup is more flexible and convenient but misses the human connection factor that I’m trying to work out through virtual engagement activities.”
—Tim Hill, Co-Founder and CEO, Social Status
“As a B2B SaaS provider, we currently operate in a hybrid set-up wherein we encourage our employees to work in the office once-a-week. All of our physical offices are located in Kansas City, MI, USA, Manchester City, UK, Manila, Philippines, Sydney, Australia, and Townsville, Australia. This is very different compared to when we reported to the office on an everyday basis before the pandemic started.”
—Liz Palma, Human Resources Head, SafetyCulture Philippines
50% of business owners noted that their employees work on-site 5-day weeks a week
There seems to be very little variation in work arrangements, with a majority of business owners requiring a full in-person return to work. A combined 37% of employers have continued at least a hybrid work-week, with employees having to work on-site at least one day a week, but still provided the opportunity to work remotely at some point throughout the week. The 12% that only require on-site bi-weekly or less is not a contingent to be ignored and signifies employers who understand the need for occasional in-office interactions and the need to align employees with current goals, but a willingness to embrace an otherwise fully remote work culture.
On-Site Work Frequency
11% – 1-2 days per week
26% – 3-4 days per week
50% – 5 days per week
6% – Bi-weekly
4% – Monthly
2% – A few times a year
1% – Other
Hybrid work arrangements have taken many forms in the past year as COVID-19 conditions continue to vacillate between improved and a serious health threat. We wanted to explore what arrangements our community of business owners and HR professionals felt were sufficient given the current market and demands on their teams, so we asked them to weigh in on their own hybrid arrangements if any.
“We’ve maintained a 100% remote office approach even after the pandemic because the remote setup works so well for us. Our flexible work arrangement revolves around letting our employees clock in during their peak productivity hours. There are employees who get a lot done in the wee hours of the day, and there are those who love working late. Allowing each person to set their own work schedule, so long as they clock in the required hours, has immensely improved our productivity.”
—Linda G. Thompson, Co-Founder & Director of Marketing, Notta.ai
“Probably the only benefit of the pandemic has been the normalization of remote or hybrid work dynamics. I don’t think any company can pick just one out of the two, since then there are always some unhappy employees. I find that letting employees who want to work hybrid do so and allowing some employees to stay remote has led to happier employees overall. This was because not everyone has kids and a family and actually wants to pass their time in the office and the socializing it offers. Hybrid workers come in every alternate day but never on the weekends since I do not believe in overworking my employees, and the remote workers stay home full-time and have been given the appropriate collaboration tools to ensure they don’t feel left out or ill-equipped.”
—Lattice Hudson, Owner & Business Coach, Lattice & Co.
“We have been operating as a hybrid working model, a tech-based company. Some of our employees don’t come to the office as they work as per their flexible schedule. We get a certain amount of work from them daily. Some work half days at the office and half days from home. The rest of the employees work in the office only. We have a clarified schedule board.”
—Lyle Florez, Founder, EasyPeopleSearch
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically shifted the workforce landscape. Social distancing requirements, quarantine mandates, and other safety measures forced businesses to find alternative methods for remaining in business that allowed their teams to continue to engage with customers but also remain safe and healthy. Where the work allowed for it, many businesses embraced fully remote work strategies in order to keep their doors open, which was the proof of concept that proponents of remote work have been looking for throughout the past decade. Despite the success many saw from these arrangements, abatement of pandemic precautions due to the release of the COVID-19 vaccine and reduced outbreaks in many communities have business owners pushing for a return to the office at least several days a week, if not a full return. In the next section, we’ll look more into how workweek structures have changed in the last two years due to the pandemic.
56% of employees work traditional, 9-5 hours, compared to 44% of respondents who noted working more flexible hours
While there seems to be a push for in-office work to resume, there seems to be a matching willingness by employers to provide their staff with flexible schedules to improve work-life balance. This can especially be helpful to parents given the instability in children’s school schedules due to quarantine requirements and other factors. This also allows people to attend doctor’s appointments and handle other necessary healthcare matters, reducing the overall stress being experienced by many employees.
In some cases, this ability to work on projects or conduct business when it makes sense to and when it’s convenient to do so has resulted in increased efficiency and even more productivity. It’s also a model that better fits remote work strategies and hybrid work strategies, allowing employees to attend in-office meetings or work at their desk when necessary, but otherwise provides them with the flexibility to put in the hours in the field when it makes sense to do so in order to best engage with clients or leads.
56% – Traditional hours (ex: 9-5)
44% – Flex hours (Employees can work alternative times of the day/evening)
“The flexible working hours data doesn’t particularly surprise me. In fact, the 56% working traditional hours is more surprising. I know lots of companies are heading back to work IN the office, but it feels like it’s because they’re locked into expensive commercial leases. Flexible, remote work has transformed our agency and opened our talent pool significantly. I expect businesses large and small, when forced to recruit those who would prefer to work from home (by no means everyone), will focus on a hybrid approach that gives employees the choice, which let’s face it, is what they’ve really been asking for all along.”
—Maren Hogan, CEO, Red Branch Media
With so many possible arrangements, we wanted to find out if our community of HR experts and business owners had embraced flexible work schedules, and if so what benefit they were getting from doing so if any.
“We do have a flexible schedule and it does help that most of our work is asynchronous. Our colleagues from different parts of the world choose to work at the time they want to, instead of following one time zone. Having a flexible schedule attracts quality talent. It also helps us greatly when we have sudden personal appointments or just to take the morning off to relax and get that work done in the evening.”
—Phil Strazzulla, Founder, SelectSoftware
“We switched to a four-day workweek in 2020. Since then, both the results and the outcomes for employees have improved much compared to what they were in the past. I’ve observed a substantial increase in our overall performance and work ethic* ever since we switched to a four-day workweek. In my view, the fact that my employees are not overworked is the primary factor that contributes to its success.”
—Lily Wili, Founder & Designer, everwallpaper
“I offer a flexible work schedule. Generally, employees will choose which shift they prefer during the day. For example, some prefer working mornings versus evenings, while others might need increased flexibility. Flex hours mean we have adequate coverage throughout the day without burning people out. It also means team members can have a consistent schedule they can plan their lives around. It can be a little tricky on the scheduling side of things, especially when employees take PTO or sick leave.”
—Andre Kazimierski, CEO, Improovy
Out of the 25% of businesses that leverage 4-day work weeks, 43% of those respondents only offer 4-day workweeks during certain times of the year, such as summer Fridays
Of the flexible work arrangements in play, a quarter of our respondents say that they offer their staff the option of working four days a week. A four-day workweek provides employees with incentive and motivation to do more with the four days they are expected to contribute to the company, and as a result, gain back the extra workday as personal time to take care of life events. This allows workers to plan out their weeks more effectively, both at work and at home, thus benefiting all involved.
A four-day workweek can be especially helpful when offered on a seasonal basis, such as during the summer or winter months when schools are out of session and families travel. This allows parents, caretakers, and guardians to be more present and provide care for family members during a period when the increased ability to do so can be financially helpful, as well as provide a boost to staff morale. The mix of companies offering a four-day workweek that offer such an arrangement the entire year-round is roughly equal to the number of businesses that only offer such arrangements seasonally.
Business Workweek Lengths
65% – 5 days a week
25% – We offer 4-day work weeks
9% – Other
4-Day Workweek Policies
40% – Employees work 4-day work weeks all year
43% – We only offer 4-day work week options for certain times of the year or occasions (ex: summer Fridays)
17% – Other
49% of businesses who leverage 4-day workweeks noted that their employees work 32-hours a week
Due to the increased productivity a four-day workweek instills in workers, a majority of the companies that offer such arrangements don’t feel it necessary to fold the hours from the fifth day back into the days employees are working. Instead, they maintain existing pay and benefits despite employees only working 32 hours, which in the past could have been considered by many organizations to be part-time employment. This isn’t always the case though, as 38% of companies with 4-day weeks require employees to spread the fifth day’s hours across the four days they do work. This approach of adding hours to an already long workday can lead to burnout, reduced productivity overall, and complications in maintaining an already difficult work-life balance, but can be a more viable choice for those wanting to have the additional day off.
4-Day Workweek Policies
49% – 32-hour workweek (Still 8 hour days)
38% – 40-hour workweek (10-hour days)
14% – Other
For more insight into how companies structure shortened work schedules, such as 4-day work weeks, we went to the community to find out what strategies were being utilized and how they might handle the hours cut from a traditional 5-day schedule.
“Usually, we are a five-day workplace, but we do allow employees a four-day workweek. If their tasks are completed by Thursday, they can have a day off on Friday, and we don’t cut their salary for that day. We allow this shortening of the week two weeks out of the month, and require five-day workweeks the rest of the month, allowing a balance between the two.”
—Rahul Vij, CEO, WebSpero Solutions
“Every Friday, our employees are able to go home or log off at 2:30 p.m. Depending on our weekly performance, we can close down operations as early as 12:30 p.m. This means that our staff are frequently able to work just a half-day to end the week. We also give additional unscheduled PTO days throughout the year.”
—Margo Dunnigan, Chief Operating Officer, AAE Speakers Bureau
“We tried out the 32-hour, 4-day workweeks after the pandemic, but this approach wasn’t a great success due to the stress employees had to produce all orders within the 4-day span without the flexibility to plan and spread-out flexible hours offers. Also, some employees started having lower income due to less ability to work more on other orders, while also highlighting an increase in expenses. We now have a work policy that allows for a hybrid flexible hours setup that allows for maximum productivity and all employees love it.”
—Michael Nemeroff, CEO & Co-Founder, Rush Order Tees
The pandemic has caused small business owners and HR teams to embrace flexible work schedules more than they have purely remote arrangements. A flexible schedule reads like a compromise between employers and organizations, showing that there’s a need to prioritize the ability of employees to maximize work-life balance while still prioritizing productivity and bottom-line profitability by ensuring employees are available and engaged with clients and leads as much as the flow of business necessitates. Now, we can dive a little more in detail into how flexible work arrangements can be both beneficial and detrimental to the organization, depending on how the work arrangements are structured and managed.
Flexible Work Arrangements: Pros and Cons
A majority of survey respondents who offer flexible work options noted that having a better work-life balance has been the biggest benefit
We’ve mentioned how flexible schedules and remote work models support an employee’s ability to maintain a work-life balance at several points so far. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that with our respondents, work-life balance has been the leading benefit and driving factor in embracing non-traditional work models and schedules. Several other benefits have emerged in these discussions that employers should take note of, however, as they ultimately all lead back to boosting employee satisfaction, another of the major benefits offered by flexible work.
Of note is a company’s ability to reduce its carbon footprint with fewer employees working in the office and thus being able to use fewer resources in the office. Remote work and flexible schedules can also help to promote equality and inclusivity in the workplace by improving and expanding the accommodations an employer can make for individual employees, thus improving their opportunities and ability to contribute to the success of the business. Combined, these factors can help to attract new talent by presenting potential employees with a workplace that shows it cares about issues that matter to them, and overall improve overall satisfaction and retention in the existing staff for the same reasons.
(On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the biggest benefit)
Better work/life balance
Attracting new talent
Lower carbon footprint
Higher employee satisfaction
A more equal workplace
Improved mental and physical health
Increased employee retention
Reduced business expenses
Meanwhile, most businesses noted that internal and/or external scheduling conflicts have posed the greatest challenges
Flexible and remote work arrangements have opened up employers to a slew of challenges that weren’t as much of an issue when all employees were working a standard workday in the office. As the demands on employees outside of work have increased, it’s become more difficult for employers to work around and schedule around their needs, and as a result, employers have turned to trying to hire more employees. However, this has itself been a challenge with so many candidates themselves coming to potential employers with special scheduling needs and expectations for flexible work arrangements.
In the meantime, customers are also having to adjust to a workforce that is not as consistently available as they are used to, impacting overall satisfaction with brands. And perhaps the most driving reason so many employers are pushing for schedules to normalize and people to return to the office on a consistent basis is the challenge of effectively managing distributed teams working on sometimes inconsistent work schedules in order to get the most productivity out of the team and mitigate and manage performance concerns.
(On a scale of 1-8, 1 being the biggest challenge)
Internal and/or external scheduling conflicts
Lower customer satisfaction
Higher employee turnover
More costly to hire enough employees/resources
Less time to complete tasks
Higher employee stress/increased burnout
More difficult to manage teams
Our respondents had a lot to say about the pros and cons of flexible work schedules and remote work arrangements. We posed the same question to our community of professional HR specialists and small business owners to find out what concerns and pain points they were experiencing in their efforts to meet employee needs and customer demands.
“Flexible working hours can offer a number of benefits, including increased productivity and creativity, improved work/life balance, and reduced stress levels. One challenge of flexible working hours is that it can be difficult to coordinate schedules among employees. Another challenge is that some employees may abuse the system by taking advantage of the flexibility in their hours.”
—Susan Carin, Marketing Manager, Drsono.com
“The number one benefit that flexible hours offer is improved employee mental health. Some of my employees are working mothers, so these hours are a dream come true for them. After all, they can drop their children off and even pick them up from school and childcare. What’s more, is that it’s not just these working moms; many other employees are also able to maintain a healthy work-life balance now. As a result, boosting their overall productivity rates, engagement, and retention.
One challenge that I’ve faced is the lack of communication that may occur. Some tasks require teams to instantly get in touch with each other. But, if a member is working in the evening and another in the morning, it can result in some major communication gaps. So, to overcome this problem, I made sure to introduce asynchronous communication tools like Slack to bridge the communication gap. Now, team members can talk to each other and maintain an effective communication stream. Apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are also excellent for video conferencing and hosting meetings.”
—Anthony Minniti, Professional Home Buyer, Texas Land & Home
“The number one benefit of flexible hours is creating a healthy balance between professional and personal life. Employees felt more in control of their schedules, which helped increase morale, productivity, and overall performance. As a result, the workers were satisfied with their jobs, which reduced the turnover rate. Even though flexible work hours increased autonomy, it created issues for employers. That’s because employees could not differentiate between home and office life. As a result, this affected communication between the workers and supervisors.”
—Vicky Cano, Chef & Recipe Blogger, Mealfan
The bottom line is that there is no perfect solution that will both meet the evolving needs of employees and the increased demands on business from their clients to deliver results. Flexibility and a willingness to accommodate the needs of your team will be one of the most effective and lasting ways in 2022 to attract and retain talent, but small business owners must also do what’s best for their own brands as well.
Flexible Workplace Plans: 2022 and Beyond
68% of businesses plan to revise or fully change their flexible work offerings in 2022 and beyond. 41% of them intend to change their current in-person, remote, and/or hybrid work policies.
Finding and achieving a middle ground between customer needs and employee scheduling and flexibility needs will be the key to success in the new post-COVID economy that rewards agility and responsiveness to the needs of both sets of stakeholders. As more data emerges about the effectiveness and efficiencies gained through flexible work and remote work arrangements, we expect to see more businesses across the economy willing to adjust their workplace policies around flexible scheduling and related tactics. While a quarter of our respondents who have plans for changing their policies intend to make those changes a full return to the office, it’s reassuring to see that a large majority are addressing hybrid options and introducing flexibility into the mix.
Workplace Policy Revisions
68% – We plan to adjust our flexible workplace policies
32% – We have no plans for further changes at this time
25% – Revert back to a 5-day work-week
41% – Revise our in-person/remote/hybrid work policy
31% – Change our required work-time hours
2% – Other
Regardless of the direction you plan to steer your small business, it’s important to take into account when crafting your workforce strategies how difficult it is to attract and retain talent in the post-COVID recovery. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many professionals across industries to reconsider their needs and how they want their work experience to go, and they are showing up to the negotiation table with their needs, both personal and professional, in hand. Employers who are managing from a place of understanding and prioritizing employee wellness and experience are scoring the highest overall satisfaction with their workers, which is carrying over into the customer experience and driving the overall recovery of many businesses as we continue to navigate the challenging road ahead into 2022
Are Your Workplace Policies Flexible Enough to Carry You Through the Year?
In this survey, we explored the growing importance of flexible workplace policies and remote work arrangements in the post-COVID economic recovery that we are experiencing in 2022. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that we must continue to adapt and evolve our policies to meet not only the needs of our customers but more importantly the needs of our employees, who are the heart and soul of our brands that help to keep the doors open. As we’ve asked them to sacrifice and dedicate their time and effort to helping us build our businesses up, so too must we consider their evolving needs and when possible, change policies to match their complex needs beyond our four walls.
As our Pollfish data shows, many brands have spent much of the pandemic already making the changes necessary to allow their teams to operate under flexible scheduling policies and remote work. As the economy adapts to and begins to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 shutdowns and quarantines, business owners and HR professionals are modifying their workplace policies in a number of ways, ranging from discontinuing remote work and flexible schedules altogether to retaining flexibility in their approach to scheduling and hybrid work arrangements.
If you’re looking for guidance on how to structure your own team’s work schedules or best practices to transition to a hybrid work model in the next year after your team has worked remotely for the last two years, UpCity’s marketplace of B2B service providers and human resource specialists can be a great first stop, before then taking a deep dive into our HR-focused hub of articles from experts and business owners.
UpCity’s Survey Method
UpCity used Pollfish to survey 600 small business owners and HR professionals throughout the United State on their company’s flexible work arrangements in 2022.
A majority of respondents own or work for businesses with 501-1,000 employees (16%), followed by 2-5 employees (15%), 51-100 employees (14%), and 101-250 employees (10%).
Fifty-five percent of respondents are male and thirty-nine percent of male respondents are 35-44 years old. Forty-five percent of respondents are female and twenty-nine percent of female respondents are 25-34 years old.