The workplace divide: Employees speak out on remote, hybrid and in-office work
January 8th, 2024, Hoang Nguyen

The workplace divide: Employees speak out on remote, hybrid and in-office work

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted workplace norms for many people, propelling remote and hybrid work models into the mainstream. Three years into the return to normalcy, a question lingers: what do working adults truly prefer when it comes to their work environment?

Based on recent YouGov data, the answer isn’t so simple—it’s a balancing act of personal preferences, productivity perceptions and the ever-present desire for work-life balance.

Let’s explore the motivations—and concerns—surrounding remote, hybrid and in-office work according to employees in the US.

Remote work is enticing but we’re far from a remote majority

While the allure of remote work is undeniable, YouGov data shows a nuanced picture. We asked workers which work model they prefer and just over a third (36%) say they would want to work fully remotely.

Roughly a quarter prefer to work in an office or workplace and 28% seek a middle ground, opting for a hybrid work model. This suggests that the “remote-first” narrative might be oversimplifying a more complex reality.

What are the main draws of being able to work from home?

For remote and hybrid enthusiasts (i.e., workers who prefer remote/hybrid work), the benefits are clear. Topping the list is the time (68%) and money (64%) saved by ditching the commute.

Beyond these practicalities, many enjoy the freedoms afforded by work-from-home models, including half (50%) who say they don’t have to worry about their appearance and 31% who say they can squeeze in a nap or exercise during the day. More than a quarter (28%) prefer to work from home so they can look after their pets.

There’s an antisocial bent to some of the reasons why people would choose to work remotely. A quarter say they don’t want to feel pressured to socialize after work hours and a similar percentage say they prefer not to spend time in the presence of colleagues outright (24%).

Notably, 43% prefer to work from home because it empowers them to be more productive, perhaps due to reduced workplace distractions or a more personalized workspace.

Not everyone thrives in a home office, however. Among those who have the ability to work remotely, 13% say they achieve less at home.

What about the perceived benefits of an office/workplace?

We asked workers who prefer office-based/hybrid work models about their preferences and found that many crave connection with colleagues and the in-office perks. At the top of the list is the desire to keep home and work separate at 41%. Roughly a third also believe that they’re more productive in the office (36%) and that they collaborate better with their team when they go in (33%).

For employees who prefer office-based/hybrid work, going into the office gives them a hub of social interaction (29%), company culture (27%) and professional growth (22%).

For 22% of this group, office perks such as complimentary snacks, drinks and lunches sweeten the deal.

The ideal number of days in the office for a hybrid work schedule

Survey data reveals that three days in the office per week emerges as the clear favorite, garnering 40% of the vote among workers who prefer a hybrid work model. A quarter (24%) say the ideal number is two days a week while 11% favor going into the office once a week. 13% of people who prefer hybrid work say they would want to go into the office four days a week.

A small percentage (4%) prefer to go on a less frequent basis than once a week, suggesting that hybrid enthusiasts want a more in-personal engagement than just occasional office visits.

How would remote/hybrid workers react to a full return to the office?

For many employees accustomed to remote/hybrid work, the prospect of a full-time office return isn’t a welcome one. Close to a third (29%) would consider quitting outright, emphasizing how strongly they feel about their preference for flexible working arrangements. A further 22% say they would accept it but do so grudgingly.

The data also points to a potentially significant impact on overall work performance. 28% of remote/hybrid employees say a full return to the office would negatively affect both their morale and productivity, reinforcing the possibility of trade-offs in such a move.

Not all remote/hybrid workers would be devastated by a full-time office return. A fifth (20%) say they wouldn’t be bothered by the shift in working arrangements and 14% say they would actually be happy about the change.


YouGov surveyed 1,149 US adults on their employment status between Nov. 6-7, 2023. The survey was carried out online and the data figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).