In a world still grappling with the aftermath of a global pandemic, the concept of work has shifted dramatically, and with the adoption of remote and hybrid models across a myriad of industries, some workers have adjusted better than others.
According to the annual Global Workplace Study by Gallup released this month, which surveyed 122,416 employed individuals across the globe, only 23% of the world’s employees reported “thriving” in their jobs. In the U.S. the number is higher at 34%. The results are based on survey responses from April 2022 to March 2023.
Still, when looking closer, the numbers reveal a staggering level of employees detached from their roles.
The study also found that 59% of employees reported “quiet quitting,” while 18% were “loud quitting.” Echoing these numbers, 47% of workers in the U.S. reported intent to leave their job in the near future or are actively looking.
According to the poll, low engagement can be financially taxing, costing the global economy a staggering $8.8 trillion, equivalent to 9% of the global GDP, the report found.
The number of actively engaged employees stood at 52% for fully remote and onsite workers, but the number of those disengaged was 46% for remote workers, as compared to 38% for those onsite.
While the level of engagement may seem marginal, it still marked the highest level of global engagement since Gallup began the study in 2009, as well as marking a significant improvement from the prior years, with engagement levels having rebounded after a dip in 2020.
“People are a little bit more prone to drift to other employment, feeling less attached to the workplace,” said Howard Liu, chair of the psychiatry department at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told The Wall Street Journal.
Other experts told the outlet that onsite work can also lend to more engagement because of the sheer proximity to other people.
“Think about social connection as a battery—you need to charge that battery every once in a while,” Dawn Klinghoffer, vice president for human-resources business insights at Microsoft, told the WSJ.
Still, there are some advocates for remote work, and people who relish in the lifestyle. A 2022, survey by Cisco of 28,000 full-time employees around the world found that 78.9% of remote and hybrid workers said the shift improved their work-life balance.
Also, remote work can pay off for some, literally. A 2021 study of nearly 2,700 Americans by Bankrate found that four in 10 (38%) of workers who were remote said it had a positive impact on their financials, a number that shoots up to 60% for millennials.
The Effect of Remote Work on Local Economies
The widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work can also have far-reaching effects beyond one’s productivity. With more people not going into the office, city centers in places like San Francisco and Philadelphia have been struggling as small businesses don’t have nearly as much foot traffic, ultimately hurting the local storefronts and causing spikes in crime.
In both cities, the worker exodus has contributed to issues of crime and empty office spaces. In Philadelphia, office vacancy is worse now than it was amid the Great Recession of 2008, the WSJ reported.
Paul Levy, chief executive of Philadelphia’s Center City District, told the outlet that he’s hoping to see occupancy levels in office buildings reach 75% (they’re currently at 57%), to secure the livelihood of the area by bringing back hospitality jobs and businesses that once thrived on a bustling district.
“We’ve done everything we can to reactivate,” Levy added.