PwC study on hybrid working

Working partly from home does not make the Netherlands poorer, but definitely happier

PwC-onderzoek naar hybride werken
  • Publication
  • 04 Sep 2023

Working partly at home and partly in the office by part of the workforce has not made the Netherlands poorer, but the workers involved are happier. Working partly from home does not lead to reduced production and it has a positive impact on employees' mental and physical well-being. So-called hybrid working however can have a negative impact on collaboration and innovation. That is the main conclusion of the research 'The best of both worlds' conducted by PwC on hybrid working. 

Download: The best of both worlds

Hybrid working does not make us poorer, but does make us happier.

Back in 2020, PwC also did research on the costs and benefits of working from home when workers were forced to do so by Covid-19. After the pandemic, many people continued to work from home for a number of days. The Netherlands leads the way in this with more than half of the workforce working partly from home. Hybrid working has become natural and accepted for both employers and employees and even institutionalised in legislation.

Fact-based debate on working from home

'However, we regularly see reports in the media about organisations struggling with it, especially about employers who would like to see their people in the office a bit more. The debate about the potential impact of remote working is expected to continue. With this research, we look at all the new data and studies that have become available in recent years and try to separate facts from opinions and anecdotal evidence,' said PwC chief economist Jan Willem Velthuijsen.

Working from home does not reduce overall production 

One of the main questions surrounding hybrid working is how it affects employee output and productivity. Research has up till now not found a conclusive answer to this. Jan Willem Velthuijsen: 'What we see is that output per worker has increased; we are producing more per person. This may be related to the fact that people under hybrid setups tend to work extra hours. However, whether the work is done more efficiently, so that productivity per hour increases, is unclear. So we cannot simply say that hybrid work makes us richer, but it certainly does not make us poorer.'

Positive impact of working from home on wellbeing and sustainability 

Recent data and several new scientific studies show that working from home for two to three days offers significant benefits. Workers perceive that it increases their well-being, partly because they spend less time commuting and thus have more time for personal affairs. 'It makes employees happier,' said chief economist Velthuijsen. 'It also saves quite a few commuting kilometres, so it also contributes to sustainability.

Working from home

Hybrid work can affect organisations' ability to innovate 

Hybrid work also has the advantage for employers of lower costs for office space. ‘However, one aspect of hybrid working that they should be vigilant of is a negative impact on collaboration and innovation, although research into this is still going on and definitive conclusions are far from being drawn. Velthuijsen: ‘Of course there are all kinds of innovation. The greatest inventions in history are not associated with optimal collaboration in the office environment, but are made by brilliant loners. However, innovation in the sense of incremental improvements in products, services or processes is often associated with collaboration. And that decreases as the frequency of working from home increases. Collaborating and making real contact is easier when you are physically together.'

Optimise balance between home and office 

Bas van de Pas, leader of People & Analytics within PwC thinks employers should look at how to optimise the balance between working from home and the office. 'Forcing people to return to the office is throwing the baby out with the bathwater: Offering flexible working arrangements make employers more attractive. In times of labour market tightness, this is essential.’'

Van de Pas stresses the importance of finding the right balance: 'The results of this study are high-over and about averages. Ultimately, employers need to work with employees to see how they optimise the balance between working from home and office. In the sense of: what is good for the employees and what is good for the employer. Organisations can measure who collaborates frequently with whom, or where incremental innovation is stalling compared to the past. That gives them concrete tools to develop strategies to minimise any negative impact of remote working while continuing to reap the benefits.'

Download: The best of both worlds

Hybrid working does not make us poorer, but does make us happier.

Contact us

Bas van de Pas

Bas van de Pas

Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 263 83 99

Jan Willem Velthuijsen

Jan Willem Velthuijsen

Chief Economist, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 248 32 93

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