Graduates prefer hybrid work but feel ‘return to office’ pressure

Apr 17, 2024 | Development, Home Featured, Research

Graduates share their experiences of hybrid work in a new survey by Prospects at Jisc.

While graduates feel the benefits of hybrid working with improved productivity and wellbeing, the Early Careers Survey reveals they feel pressured to return to the office. users were surveyed in January and February for Prospects’ annual survey, which will launch in May 2024. These early findings are of 2,777 graduates who gave their views on remote, hybrid and on-site working arrangements.

What do graduates think of hybrid work?

The survey by Prospects at Jisc found that the majority of graduates preferred hybrid working (60%), compared to fulltime in the workplace (16%) or remotely (16%).

However, the majority (62%) felt that their employer wanted them in the workplace full time – despite them clearly favouring hybrid or remote work environments for productivity (71%) and overall wellbeing (80%) compared to attending the workplace – 24% and 14% respectively.

Graduates recognised that being in the office was most effective for engaging with colleagues, getting support from managers, and feeling part of a team.

Generational differences

Prospects’ survey also found that while entry-level workers expect to be supported when in the office, managers are less likely to be there.

Graduates in entry-level roles were more inclined to work in person (58%) and less likely to be in hybrid work (35%). Just 7% worked fully remotely.

Conversely, managers were least likely to physically attend the workplace (35%). Instead, they favoured a hybrid work arrangement (47%) or fully remote work (18%).

Graduates could spend more time in the workplace because they lack a dedicated working space. The majority of entry-level graduates worked remotely in their bedrooms while more experienced staff were most likely to be in a home office or spare room.

Bridging the gap

If graduates think they’re wanted back in the office this could mean additional pressure, particularly since they associate better wellbeing with the flexibility of being able to work remotely.

ISE research showed that the majority of employers (72%) don’t expect graduates to work in the office full time, rather three or four days a week. This means that graduates’ perception does not always equal reality.

People early on in their careers can lack the necessary capabilities and confidence to navigate politics and procedures at work. They may not have built relationships with managers to enable them to comfortably ask what’s required, so it’s important that employers are clear about where and when they expect staff to work.

Ensuring that managers are in the office at the same time as more junior staff can help them build the skills and behaviours they need to thrive.

You may also be interested in…

4 critical skills graduates need to thrive in a hybrid work environment

Setting early talent up for success in a hybrid world

How hybrid working is impacting development programmes

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