‘Flexible’ is the new ‘hybrid’: Owl Labs finds over a third of European workers would decline a job if flexible hours were not offered

The ‘Great Resignation’ continues in 2022: Over a fifth (21%) of employees are actively seeking new job opportunities in 2022

Four-day work week closer than ever: Three quarters (75%) of employees would take a pay cut to achieve it

The biggest impact on employee satisfaction is flexibility: 45% say flexible working hours are key to happiness at work

LONDON--()--Owl Labs, a global collaborative technology company, today launches its annual State of Hybrid Work study - polling 10,000 full-time employees across UK, Germany, France, Netherlands and the Nordics* - which reveals that flexibility is key to retaining top talent in 2022 and beyond. Over a third (37%) of European employees are prepared to decline a job if flexible hours are not offered and just over two thirds (69%) would accept a pay cut to have flexible hours.

As a result, offering flexibility and employee-first benefits are key to stemming the ‘Great Resignation’ which saw one third office workers change jobs in the past two years. 36% of employees would remain at their current company if both flexible working hours or a four-day work week were introduced, while over a quarter (27%) would stay with their current employer if they were given flexibility regarding where they work.

As businesses grapple with the evolving post-pandemic work landscape, managers must ensure that proximity bias doesn’t compromise employee progression with over half (55%) of employers admitting that they tend to have more trust in full-time office workers than those who work remotely.

Flexible is the new hybrid

The nine-to-five is all but dead in today’s working world. Almost eight in ten (79%) of Europeans feel they are just as, if not, more productive while working remotely compared to working from the office. While on average, the ideal work/office balance works out at three days in the office and two days working remotely, nearly a third (31%) of employees are worried they will be asked to return to the office full time with no hybrid option. European employees are eager to increase the number of days they work remotely, whilst full-time remote employees would like to work from the office one day a week showing that hybrid is the preferred option across the board. Full-time office workers' ideal split in France and the Netherlands would be 1.5 days remote and 3.5 days in the office, whilst in the UK, the Nordics and Germany their ideal split was 1.8 days versus 3.2 days respectively.

Unsurprisingly, over a quarter (28%) of European workers would not accept a job offer if they were expected to be in the office full time, while under a fifth (18%) would decline a new job opportunity if the position was fully remote. UK workers are the most likely (34%) to decline a job if they had to return to the office full time.

Consequently, almost one in two (46%) employees are concerned that working remotely will mean they have less of a say at work and will miss out on growth opportunities.

Proximity bias isn’t exclusive to managers, over half (51%) of employees at all levels also said that they are more likely to engage with those they physically work with. French and British workers are most likely (57% respectively) to defer to people in the office. This is largely due to the fact that a third (33%) of European office workers find building relationships with remote colleagues more difficult. In fact, 47% cited infrequent small talk and 42% stated a lack of face-to-face socialising as the main reasons for making remote interactions challenging.

The possibility of the ‘Great Retention’ in 2022

To inspire the ‘Great Retention’ in 2022, employers will need to rethink their employee retention strategies and workplace policies. As it stands, of employees who didn't change jobs in the past two years, over a fifth (21%) are actively seeking new job opportunities in 2022. A four-day work week was one of the top benefits (36%) that would most likely convince an employee to remain in their current role. So much so that the majority (75%) of employees would take a pay cut in order to do so. Some employers (14%) have taken note and have already introduced a four-day work week.

Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs says, “As we enter into this next phase of work, it’s clear that employers across Europe need to provide flexibility over when, where and how their teams work to ensure they keep employees engaged. Giving individual workers more choice over how they work means managers need to be aware of any biases they have towards employees who spend less time in the office. Technology will play an important role in maintaining an immersive and equalised workplace. While the metaverse will take more time and adoption, simple changes to enhance the video conferencing experience will have a significant impact on overall team camaraderie and culture.

“It is also clear from our research that employees are demanding more from their employers when it comes to overall job satisfaction. Offering a robust and flexible set of employee benefits has never been more important to retaining top talent.”

Keeping employees engaged with immersive technology

Technology will continue to play a crucial role in making employees feel connected and productive. Currently, a fifth (21%) of managers are concerned about maintaining cultural connection, team camaraderie and effective communication for their remote team members. Across the board, 31% of employees admitted that they find it harder to engage with colleagues online - those in the Netherlands find it the hardest (37%).

Levelling up video conferencing tools will be an essential first step, with over one-third (38%) of employees saying there was room for video conferencing improvement. To make hybrid and flexible work more immersive, over a quarter (28%) of employees are keen to adopt an office metaverse, while a further 19% are open to working in virtual reality. Both Germany and the Nordics are the most excited (32% respectively) to engage with an office metaverse.



The survey was conducted in February 2022 by Vitreous World in which 10,000 full-time employees across the UK, Germany, France, Netherlands and the Nordics* were interviewed in the UK (2000), France (200), Germany (2000), the Netherlands (2000) and Nordic countries (2000).

*The Nordics refers to Sweden, Finland, Norway & Denmark

About Owl Labs

Owl Labs is a collaborative tech company making meetings more inclusive with immersive, 360-degree video devices. Built for modern businesses and classrooms, Owl Labs is dedicated to empowering hybrid and remote teams with its award-winning technology and robust product suite. The company's flagship product, the Meeting Owl, was honoured as one of TIME’s Best Inventions and features a wifi-enabled, 360-degree camera, microphone, and speaker with proprietary AI technology. Owl Labs has raised £15.8 million in funding and is based in Boston, with remote and hybrid employees all over the world. To learn more about Owl Labs, visit www.owllabs.com.


Louisa Cervero


Louisa Cervero