It’s no longer required, but flexible working remains popular

One in three employees are continuing to work from home for at least half of their working time, even though the earlier anti-Covid advice to work from home ended a while ago. This was one of the findings of a nationwide employer survey by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW), which was published on 27 June. It was conducted among more than 1000 organisations and companies with more than 100 employees.

According to the ministry, which called the results “great news”, the survey has revealed that organisations are “very positive about hybrid working”. It also showed that more than 2 in 3 organisations have some type of home-working arrangement set in place for their employees. Many of them have said to have improved their facilities and arrangements with regard to hybrid working with, for example, more options for online meetings.

No one likes a traffic jam
The aim of this third annual employer survey was to gain insight into the kind of actions that employers around the country are taking to promote and facilitate sustainable travel behaviour among their employees, such as more cycling or working-from-home options. “Fortunately, we are again able to meet often and more easily in real life. At the same time, no one likes to be stuck in traffic. By working partly in the office and partly at home, we can reduce the peak load,” said Mark Harbers, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management. “The incentive from employers to travel less or differently helps to reduce the amount of traffic jams,” he added.

Echoing the sentiment, State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen said: “Stimulating more sustainable alternatives to commuting helps to improve our air quality. Cycling, electric cars or flexible working are all options for reducing emissions and working together to create cleaner air.” The survey further illustrated that for many Dutch organisations sustainability is a key value, and that, although this may not always result in an active policy, four in ten employers have started working on sustainable travel for their employees.

Ripple effect
More and more experts across the globe are looking at the wide range of advantages of hybrid working models for companies and their employees. The Cisco Global Hybrid Work Study 2022 for example, which was conducted among 28,000 full-time employees across 27 markets, revealed that for most partakers – reflecting a variety of generations, genders and seniorities − work performance had improved. It also indicated improvements in well-being, work-life balance, relationships and even personal confidence.

When it came to the positive outcomes of remote working, Dutch workers scored relatively high compared to the rest of the world in the Cisco study. For example, a high number indicated it had helped lower their stress levels due to having more time to spend on personal relationships with family and friends (22.3% compared to 24% globally), and that it resulted in a more relaxing and lower-pressure work environment (27.8% compared to 28.8% globally). The Netherlands also scored high when it came to how remote working had improved their physical fitness and even eating habits.

No way back
Although the survey of the Cisco, an American-based technology corporation, also revealed that more needs to be done “to embed hybrid work arrangements and reimagine the employee experience”, it did show that hybrid work is now considered the most-preferred working arrangement globally, and that employees have become well adjusted to it in recent years. According to Cisco, there is no going back to “the old way”, as we move forward to a new hybrid work era.

Similar to the IenW Ministry, experts such as Dutch management publication Management Impact view hybrid working as having a positive impact of on the nationwide issue of traffic jams. According to Management Impact, there are also a range of working environments outside the office sphere that can benefit from hybrid working, such as public events that can be streamed for an online audience, while a small group can follow the programme live. Plus, while most students can attend classes at school, quarantined students can benefit from homeschooling, and some medical and other consultations can stand to gain from video calling.

Written by Femke van Iperen