Where hybrid work goes from here: A global perspective

HP’s Work Relationship Index explores the state of people's connection to work around the world and how employers can respond.

By Garage Staff — September 20, 2023

Ridership on public transportation in New York and London is down more than 30% from pre-pandemic levels. Cafés and bars in urban centers where office workers grab a  coffee or a happy hour drink are quiet on Mondays and Fridays, when most hybrid employees work from home. With fewer people window shopping during breaks or after work, foot traffic near retail stores in metropolitan areas is down 20%. And cities like Tokyo, Penang, and Seoul are mobile hubs for digital nomads who work untethered from an office altogether.  

The global shift to remote and hybrid work is permanent. This shift has led to a sea change that extends well beyond work itself. Terms like the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffling, and quiet quitting have entered the lexicon, revealing changes in peoples’ attitudes about where and how they work and the broader, global implications that come with them. In its largest workplace study to date, HP commissioned a global survey of more than 15,500 knowledge workers, IT decision makers, and business leaders around the world and across a range of different businesses and industries to better understand the human element behind these changes. Beyond looking at where or how people work, the Work Relationship Index survey seeks to reveal how people feel about work today.

The biggest takeaway: The world’s relationship with work is strained, and its effects are pervasive, on everything from productivity to personal relationships to mental and physical health.

Among knowledge workers surveyed, only 27% said they have a healthy relationship with work, and 57% agreed that now is a pivotal time to redefine our relationships with work.

Work Relationship Index

In areas ranging from skills development to employee well-being, HP’s Work Relationship Index reveals a disconnect between what people around the world want from work and what they’re experiencing. For example, 69% of knowledge workers say it’s important that people are encouraged to prioritize physical and mental well-being above work, but only 23% of that group experience this consistently. Sixty-five percent of knowledge workers said encouraging innovation across departments is important, but only 23% feel they’re allowed to make mistakes at work. And arguably most concerning: 75% of business leaders think employees trust their senior leadership, but only 45% of knowledge workers agree. In other words, employers who demonstrate empathy, build trust, and capitalize on those possibilities will be the ones who attract and retain top talent in the years ahead.

Empowering workers to define their day

By the end of 2023, 39% of knowledge workers around the world will work in hybrid arrangements, with the highest rates in English-speaking countries and the lowest in Asia. Employees want flexibility in where and when they work, and employers who empower them can build loyalty and even improve productivity. More than 80% of knowledge workers surveyed in HP’s study said they’d take a pay cut to work somewhere that offers the flexibility, autonomy, connection, and balance they want.


Learn more: The Work Relationship Index 


One perk of a hybrid schedule is saving precious time by avoiding the daily commute, which workers around the world cite as a top benefit of working from home. That’s especially meaningful in highly populated regions like India, where workers experience some of the longest commuting times in the world, averaging around two hours per day.  The ability to work from home also gives employees autonomy in deciding how they use their time and where they do their best work. About two-thirds of the knowledge workers surveyed said it’s important that they can choose where they work, given what makes sense on a given day.


“When I’m able to set my own hours, it helps me stay on task. This translates to higher quality of work

and better job performance overall.”  

— K Manojkumar, HP business operations associate, Chennai


Human connection helps employees thrive

Equally, working remotely during the height of the pandemic reminded many employees of how important work can be in their social lives. Beyond group activities like birthday parties and team lunches, employees who work together every day can build deep friendships that improve their lives in and out of the office. Gallup research has shown that having a close friend at work can have an impact on everything from employee satisfaction to profitability and safety. For many hybrid workers, those connections are part of the appeal of being in the office.

To help create more opportunities for connection, employers like HP have been transforming office spaces to allow for more social interaction, collaboration, and space to chat and recharge.


“I love what they’ve done to the [Madrid] office, because it has more collaboration areas and lots of light.

My favorite place is the garden. You can get outside and away from your chair and move around. I love the peace it gives you.”

— Cristina Patru, HP sales operations manager, Madrid

Well-being is a work priority now 

Working a hybrid schedule could help people be more attentive to family members, friends, and pets — all connections that can improve overall well-being.  

Work Relationship Index

And working from home can also relieve stress for people with personal and family commitments that don’t fit neatly into a typical office workday. Nearly half of respondents across all industries in HP’s survey said that, when their relationship with work is not how they want it to be, work can leave them too drained emotionally or physically to complete personal tasks. And 45% of respondents said that when they don’t have a healthy relationship with work, their relationships with family and friends suffer.


"I like working in the two environments, with changing 

workspaces and different paces. With hybrid, I’m fortunate to have

the benefits of both worlds.”

–Helen Root, HP sales process and capabilities manager,

Rio Rancho, New Mexico


Technology helps employees feel seen and heard, wherever they are

Technology — at home and at the office — is obviously critical to making hybrid work possible. Secure and reliable internet connections, devices that can move with employees, noise-canceling technology to minimize distractions, and meeting technology that brings remote and in-office colleagues together seamlessly are all must-haves to minimize frustration and ensure employees can be productive from wherever they are.

In HP’s survey, only 25% of knowledge workers said they feel confident their company will implement the right tools to support hybrid work. Employers that view technology as an important lever in improving employee engagement not only improve workflows and productivity, but also show employees that job satisfaction, inclusion, agency and well-being at work are core values.


“It’s great to have a double monitor and adjustable desk at the office, and the video conferencing

technology in the meeting rooms has been a big improvement. I like coming to the office more, especially because

of the way the workplace has improved.”

— Lucía Broto, HP gaming content manager, Madrid


Empathy is key, now and in the future

Along with flexibility, connection, and a seamless experience between remote and in-office work, the theme that came through loud and clear in HP’s survey is that most people are seeking empathy from their employers.

While 70% of business leaders agreed that emotionally intelligent leadership is crucial to moving forward, 41% of knowledge workers said their leaders aren’t meeting their expectations in this area. Empathetic leadership is so important to employees, survey respondents said they’d take an 11% pay cut to work somewhere that offers it.  

Workers around the world want to be involved in company decisions that will impact their lives. They want to feel successful in their careers and their personal lives, without having to sacrifice one for the other. Not only do they want to bring their whole selves to work, they want workplaces that recognize the important contributions they make every day.


“The ‘new’ workforce wants flexibility to do what’s best

for them — and for the company.” 

— Tami Morris, HP Americas public sector sales operations manager, Rio Rancho, NM



Read more: 5 ways the right digital tools can keep your hybrid team humming