Where Tech Works Report

By
Joe DuBey
·
June 22, 2022
tech report, remote work report, return to office report, remote work survey, returning to office survey

A new survey reveals that hybrid work is the No. 1 preference for tech industry employees. In fact, when asked why workers stay in their current roles, flexibility ranked higher than pay. 

Widespread remote work has upended the traditional idea of the “workplace as a place,” especially for employees in the tech industry who generally don’t need to be in the office five days a week. Over the past two years, we’ve heard plenty of speculation about the future of work—will remote work be the new default or will we go back to full-time, in-office work? But very few questions have actually been answered.

We decided to track down answers to these critical workplace questions for ourselves. Eden’s Where Tech Works Report surveyed 1,000 full-time, U.S.-based information workers in the technology industry via an online survey platform. We asked respondents about their working preferences, challenges, and priorities to better understand how employers in tech can adapt to meet evolving employee expectations.

The findings of our Where Tech Works Report reveal that despite the popular narrative that the office is for the old and remote is for the young, most technology employees—especially Gen Z—prefer some form of in-office work. However, the ability to work remotely is important, even more so for seasoned tech workers in their mid- to late-career. 

Let’s take a deeper dive.

Tech employees want access to all types of work arrangements, regardless of their individual preference

When we asked respondents in the tech industry about their preferred way of working, hybrid work was the most popular option. Nearly half (48%) of tech workers prefer hybrid work, compared to 34% who selected full-time in-office, and only 18% who said full-time remote. 

Even though full-time remote was the least popular work preference for tech workers, employees still value having the option. In fact, nearly all (95%) respondents say it’s very or somewhat important to have the ability to work remotely. Breaking this down further, 63% of tech employees say a remote work option is very important, and not having the ability to work remotely would be a deal breaker. 

For tech employees who currently work remotely part- or full-time, 64% say it would take more than a 20% pay increase to get them to work in-office 5 days a week. Only 6% said no amount of money could make them do so.

Respondents' ideal work preferences are fairly aligned with their actual work situations. This likely indicates that the majority of tech workers will seek out employers that match their work style preferences.

How tech employees prefer to work, by current working arrangement:

  • 88% of full-time hybrid employees prefer to work full-time hybrid
  • 87% of full-time in-office employees prefer to work full-time in the office
  • 83% of full-time remote employees prefer to work full-time remote

Interestingly enough, even though the vast majority of those who work full-time in-office prefer it that way, 88% say it’s still important to have the option to work remotely. Simply having the option to work remotely is a minimum tech employees now expect, as they may require or want that flexibility in the future. 

Tech employees value the work-life balance afforded by flexible work options

Regardless of full-time work preference, it’s clear employees in the technology industry overwhelmingly desire some form of flexibility. When we asked respondents about the top reason for staying in their current job, flexibility was the top motivator, even ranking higher than pay

And why exactly is flexibility so important? The findings reveal the ability to work remotely enables employees to achieve a better work-life balance. Digging deeper into the data, when we asked tech employees who prefer to work flexibly (either full-time hybrid or fully remote) about the benefits of remote work, over a third (37%) said it allowed them to deal with at-home responsibilities and over a quarter (28%) said it helped them handle caretaking. 

Top benefits of remote work for tech employees:

  1. Flexibility for at-home responsibilities (37%)
  2. Flexibility for childcare and/or other family member care (28%)
  3. The commute to the office wastes too much time (22%)

It’s important to note that despite the benefits of remote work, there are also some challenges. In particular, respondents called out difficulties in achieving a sense of community, communicating with colleagues, and growing their careers—all people-related things that are easier to facilitate when employees are able to talk and learn from one another spontaneously. 

Top challenges of remote work for tech employees: 

  1. Lack of community, camaraderie, and fun among my team/company (44%)
  2. It’s harder to communicate and/or collaborate with my team (35%)
  3. Fewer opportunities for mentorship (26%)
When we asked respondents how they felt about their sense of community with colleagues over the past two years compared to pre-pandemic, hybrid employees were much more likely to say it felt stronger (57%) than fully remote workers (35%). 

Despite the common narrative that employees grumble about the office because of commutes or distractions, it appears that overall, respondents’ hesitancy about in-person work stems from a concern about losing the flexibility and work-life balance that comes with remote work, as opposed to overcoming certain in-office challenges. In fact, tech employees largely recognize there are perks that come with in-office work, like mentorship and collaboration.

Gen Z tech workers want to go to the office, but boomers want to stay home

Despite news headlines about younger generations demanding more flexibility at work, baby boomers working in the tech industry were the generation most likely to prefer full-time remote work. Forty-two percent of baby boomer respondents stated this as their preferred arrangement. 

While this might seem counterintuitive, when you consider where each generation is in their tech careers, preferences begin to make sense. Baby boomers are more likely to be further along in their professions, have established relationships both inside and outside of work, and feel confident in their job responsibilities. They may not need the daily reinforcement of work norms and relationships that comes with working in a physical office.

On the other hand, younger professionals may feel their careers in the technology industry have a less solid foundation. Gen Zers who entered the workforce during the pandemic and young millennials in their late twenties only had a few years of in-person work prior to COVID-19. Many of these younger tech workers are still figuring out their careers, forming relationships, and looking to have new life experiences. No wonder Gen Zers in tech’s No. 1 work preference is working full-time in the office, where they can make new connections and fast-track career growth. 

When it comes to those in the middle—older millennials and Gen Xers in tech—they’re most likely to prefer a hybrid work style. It's actually both generations' top work style, preferred by 50% of millennials and 47% of Gen Xers. These individuals are more likely to have at-home responsibilities, like child caretaking or establishing a home. However, they’re also still trying to grow their careers, find mentors, and enter leadership roles—all activities more easily facilitated by in-person work.

Tech employers should facilitate the best of both worlds

It’s clear that a majority of workers in technology prefer a hybrid work outcome—with flexibility to come into the office, stay at home, or work on the go. The good news for employers that don’t or can’t offer the option is that according to our data, a significant number of tech workers still prefer fully in-person (34%) or fully remote work (18%). 

However, most companies in the technology sector should consider offering a hybrid approach to enable maximum access to talent—especially considering that over the next decade, technology sector jobs are expected to grow at a pace that is nearly twice the average national jobs rate. 

The most successful hybrid workplaces are carefully and methodically designed, with a keen eye on the employee experience. From surveying employees about work style preferences to deciding whether in-office work days are company-wide, department-specific, or voluntary, there are many important decisions to ensure a happy outcome. 

Ultimately, our Where Tech Works Report reveals most employees are excited to return to the office to spend time with one another. To create a buzzing environment full of collaboration and camaraderie, there are some important investments to consider. Most notably, hybrid companies need the right software to enable seamless in-office processes when it comes to things like desk booking or room scheduling.