Exodus and Return

Insights from Method employees on returning to offices and remote work.

Conner Erickson
Research Analyst

Let me take you back to March 12, 2020. Method employees (Methoders, Methodites… it’s a work in progress) got word that we were to work from home for the next two weeks until further plans and decisions could be made— a temporary solution to growing pandemic concerns. Now nearing Fall of 2021, Method has fully embraced a remote work culture.  Like most of the world, we’ve found that remote work isn’t just practical, it’s productive.

During the last year, Method doubled down on our Method Anywhere program by allowing all employees to work fully remotely. With remote, hybrid, and in-office work topping search engine inquiries and many of our clients figuring out their path forward and curious what others were doing, we decided to contribute to the conversation by surveying our own team.

In comes the research team. Hi, that’s me! We surveyed employees on their overall sentiment about various working arrangements. We got above a 90% response rate in two days, which shows how important the topic is to our team, and the variety of responses affirmed the individuality of every employee. Everyone had unique opinions and reasoning, which is a good thing — especially as we  redefine what a workspace even is.

Getting into the data, we found that the vast majority of Method employees were most interested in either remote work or a hybrid home/in-office environment (95%). Interestingly, they also believe that most people in the world are interested in either of these, with not a single response believing that people want to return to 100% in-office work. This highlights that even those who were hesitant about remote work at first have seen benefits from a hybrid approach. Folks even appreciate the term hybrid for what it implies, saying that it is flexibility of choice, having an office available to them while having the option to go in but not being required to.

Some of the data was expected, but not always for the reasons we anticipated. For example, people’s reasons for wanting to go into an office aren’t just for concentration or a workspace away from home, they were motivated by a desire to be social. Whether it’s joining coworkers/clients for lunch or coffee, meeting in-person with teams, or just socializing in the office, Methoders crave those in-person social interactions. The top reasons for wanting to go into an office were: joining coworkers/clients for lunch or coffee (82%); client meetings (71%); general socialization and buzz (67%); and collaborating in-person on specific projects (65%).

Our team offered a much broader array of reasons for preferring to stay home, with not having a commute (89%), work/life flexibility (79%) and being able to wear whatever they want (64%) at the top of the list. Some other top choices were being able to be closer to family, friends and pets, finding a greater productivity flow at home and being able to keep up with household tasks. Another interesting stat: Respondents were more likely to choose multiple reasons for wanting to work from home, compared to from an office where they were likely to only pick just one or two reasons. Turns out working from home has a wide variety of benefits attached.

The last year gave us an obligatory moment to learn more about our professional selves. At first, working-from-home was mandatory. Now it’s an option, but it’s given each of us a chance to see how we perform best. When looking at how people prefer to work, there is individuality at every corner.

The takeaway from our survey was clear: employees want the time and location flexibility to have their work life support their personal life. Giving variety and choice is important as it lets employees dictate their own schedule, and supports them however they work best. 

As we continue forward, it will be interesting to see how preferences and culture will change the modern desk job/office workplace. Will hybrid and remote work be fully embraced? Will employees be given the freedom to  dictate their own schedules? Or will brick-and-mortar offices make a comeback? Whatever happens, all of us Methodistas can agree that for now, remote work and the freedom of flexibility are here to stay. Now I just need to figure out what we actually call ourselves.