Remote, hybrid or IRL? Where do downtown businesses stand in 2022?

While the early days of the pandemic meant stay-at-home orders and office closures, that is no longer the case. Now employees can choose the work setup that works best for them, most of the time.

Downtown district, the institution responsible for tracking health and wellness in downtown Philadelphia, recently surveyed companies representing nearly 25,000 workers to find out their current stance on remote working. And as we begin 2022, leaders from 114 businesses — from small businesses to businesses with thousands of employees — in Downtown and University Town have shared their plans for the coming months.

The results were quite mixed.

Read the full report

Remote or IRL?

The survey found that the most common situation – 25% of businesses – continues to operate entirely remotely. The second most common was a two-day office hybrid (19%), followed closely by three-day office work (18%). The least common configuration was four work days in the office (11%), and 15% of companies chose full work in the office.

Some employers mandate a certain number of working days in the office per week (33%), while others encourage them to do so (28%) and some have employees who choose to do so (31%). Only 8% had a directive for all employees to work from home.

“If we are lucky enough to enter a period when COVID threats recede, vaccination rates continue to rise, and no new disruptive variants emerge,” the report states, “we will have a clearer view of the future. he magnitude of the balance has actually shifted in favor of employees having more say in their terms of employment.

For companies that prioritized in-person work, face-to-face meetings for the sake of collaboration were the top priority. This was followed by the ability to supervise and mentor staff, maintain corporate culture and gain professional development.

It echoes that Technically previously reported: Junior employees are disproportionately disadvantaged when it comes to mentoring, and companies that have returned to the office cited company culture as a driving reason.

Vaccination policies

Vaccination status plays into these work configurations: a third of companies required employees to be vaccinated to enter the office, while 28% of companies made vaccination a condition of employment. Another quarter “strongly encouraged” their employees to get vaccinated.

The remaining 15% of companies said they were considering a vaccine mandate in 2022, would comply with a national mandate if upheld by the courts, or fall into the “other” category. Of the latter group, respondents indicated that they ran a very small business and knew that their employees either self-inoculated or did not need a warrant.

Size Matters

And company size appears to impact the current remote or hybrid situation, results found. Large companies were more likely to consider fully remote working, while only a quarter of companies with 50 or fewer employees would.

Small businesses were more likely to require a minimum number of days in the office and said it was easier to adapt to current local guidelines, compared to larger businesses that might have to stick to federal guidelines. Health and safety, retention of strong employees, childcare and ease of use of technology were all ranked as the top factors for pursuing remote work.

Perspectives

And while we’ve seen businesses reduce the space they’ll need for an office throughout the pandemic, only 21% of respondents said they would do so in 2022. Most – 63% – said that expected to need the same amount of coin, and 16% indicated they would actually increase their footprint in 2022.

But, as COVID has already shown us, conditions are subject to change.

“Given how conditions and expectations have varied dramatically over the past two years, these results should be considered more of a snapshot than a definitive portrait,” the report said.

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