Hybrid work is now the norm for most companies. And while executives and building managers have done their best to make the office as appealing as possible, plans can change in an instant (or at least over the course of a few weeks) with the rise of new outbreaks and COVID variants.
In these cases, the best option for planning ahead is often looking behind at past data in order to identify work trends based on past behavior. Luckily, organizations that invested in workplace management technology and other building monitoring capabilities have plenty of data to help plan for the coming months.
Below, we'll take a look at the latest hybrid work trends, including when staff, visitors, and contractors are most likely to come into the office.
Last year, a Qualtrics study found that many employers lean towards a 3-day work week (which employees find less than ideal). Employees favor a 2-day week, if they're required to go in at all. In the meantime, researchers at Harvard have surmised that spending one to two days per week in the office is ideal, giving workers optimal flexibility while maintaining social connections.
Now the question is, which days of the week are most popular?
One thing is clear: no one wants to be in the office on Fridays. According to Sine's customer workweek data — which shows a mixture of visitors, contractors, and staff signing in to our software — Monday is the quietest day to be in the office, closely followed by Friday.
Over the last year, Sine customers' check-in data shows that Thursday is the most popular day to be in the office, but not by much. It has just a slight edge over Wednesday. The third most-popular day of the week to come into the office is Tuesday. When the check-ins were filtered by day of the week, the percentage breakdown is:
What this means for productivity is unclear. Accountemps recently found that 39% of HR managers think employees are most productive on Tuesdays, while 24% believe people get more done on Mondays. Thursday was tied with Friday for the least productive day.
A larger study by Redboth, a company specializing in task management and communication, confirmed these findings, noting that over 20% of tasks are completed on Mondays.
But the question remains: while studies show Monday to be many people's most productive workday, is that why they choose not to go into the office? If workers - and knowledge workers, specifically - find themselves more productive at home, perhaps that's why they choose to stay there on Mondays. Or maybe Thursday is the new Monday and that's now when we can expect to get the most facetime with officemates.
The more data we collect on worker behavior and preferences, the easier it will be to see how these pieces fit together. Productivity is difficult to quantify (doing more paperwork doesn't mean accomplishing more meaningful tasks). But when we ask employees how and when they work most effectively and line that data up to the kind of data Sine's workplace management platform can provide, then we can begin to see the role the office plays in their productivity. For example, we already know that office interruptions can lead to significant productivity deficits. Perhaps employees choose office or home based on where the fewest interruptions occur.
Coordinating work schedules with colleagues, maintaining two workspaces, and rejoining the daily commute are proving to be difficult adjustments for many workers. Gallup's survey of over 140,000 U.S. employees since the beginning of the pandemic found that when employees don't have the option of working remotely, they are less engaged, their well-being declines, they experience higher levels of burnout, and show a greater intent to leave their jobs. While some have argued that it's best not to let employees pick their workdays, businesses may need more hard evidence to illuminate the connection between office presence and productivity.
There may still tension between executives/managers and employees when it comes to how (or whether) to structure the office and the workweek. Check out our post around how employee expectations have changed in the past two years here.