Seattle Metro Chamber survey shows high adoption of hybrid work and most popular days in office – GeekWire

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Kurt Schlosser
2023-05-30 20:14:34

Sixty-two percent of downtown Seattle employers report employees coming into the office three or more days per week. (GeekWire File Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

A survey by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce found that a hybrid work model is the most popular option among employers in downtown Seattle, and most companies are seeing employees in the office three or more days per week.

The survey was conducted online in April and included 221 opt-in respondents from among the Chamber’s members. The goal was to measure the rate of remote, hybrid and in-person work, levels of in-office activity and outcomes of return-to-office policies.

Some highlights of the survey, as provided by the Chamber:

  • 91% of downtown Seattle employers indicated remote work was an option have employees coming into the office.
  • 62% of downtown Seattle employers report employees coming into the office three or more days per week.
  • Businesses reported greater in-office activity than the number of days they require employees in the office.
  • Nearly twice as many employers report positive outcomes to negative ones, including a decreased quit rate, decreased absenteeism, and decreased complaints to human resources.
  • One in three businesses downtown indicated they are offering incentives for employees to return to the office, and the most popular incentives relate to in-person team building.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the most popular days in office.
  • 4% of downtown Seattle companies that require three days or more in the office reported a negative reaction from employees.
(Seattle Metro Chamber Graphic)

Rachel Smith, president and CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber, said that the survey showed that employees are doing in-office work more than many have assumed.

“There were two things we knew going into this survey: first, that many employers continue to embrace flexibility as a benefit for their employees, and second, that people being together — in person — can be an essential element of collaboration, innovation and vibrancy,” Smith said in a news release.

The Chamber was previously part of a group which called on Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell to suspend — for the next three years — the city’s business and occupation tax for new businesses and the JumpStart tax for all businesses, with the intention of reviving downtown, increasing competitiveness and attracting new companies.

The release of the survey results comes on the eve of a planned walkout by corporate and tech workers at Amazon protesting the tech giant’s return-to-office mandate, its efforts toward reducing its carbon footprint, and recent layoffs.

Amazon’s return-to-office policy went into effect May 1, with employees required to be back in offices at least three days per week.

The return of those workers brought back Seattle-area traffic, according to data from transportation analytics provider Inrix. Average commute speeds have dropped by as much as 35% on routes in and out of Seattle since Amazon’s return to office.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile said corporate leaders and their veteran employees in the Seattle area need to get back to the office regularly for the sake of the region and the next generation of workers.

“It’s your responsibility to lead the way and get back in there,” Mike Sievert said last week at the Technology Alliance‘s 2023 State of Technology luncheon in downtown Seattle. He cited the benefits of in-person mentorship for young employees, and the impact of physical presence on the economic vitality of the region.

The survey results were released in tandem with a learnings- and best-practices playbook put together by Challenge Seattle, a coalition of business and tech leaders, in partnership with the Chamber and the Downtown Seattle Association. The information comes from employers across the region that have already brought employees back to some in-person work.

“While every organization has a unique culture, business model and workforce, we can learn from leaders who are creating flexibility while making in-office work intentional, meaningful and equitable,” said Challenge Seattle CEO and former Washington State Gov. Chris Gregoire.

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