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Hybrid Workers are Equally Likely to have Close Work Friendships as On-Site Workers

Last updated:  September 6, 2022


2022-09-06

Work environments that foster connections among coworkers may see less turnover, even among remote and hybrid employees

PROVO, Utah and SEATTLE, Sept. 6, 2022 – Workers in hybrid work environments are just as likely to have real friends at work as those who see their colleagues at work every day – 70% of each of these employee groups have close work friends.

People who have strong enough work friendships that they would remain friends if they weren’t coworkers are less likely to leave their jobs, according to new research from Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM). The study found that just 23% of workers with close friends at work are planning to leave within the next six months, compared to 29% of those who don’t have close work friends. And 35% of employees said that the people they work with are part of their decision to stay–second only to being happy with their current responsibilities.

The new research sheds light on one of the biggest questions about post-pandemic work-life: whether workers would form social connections without the water cooler friendships that have been a hallmark of office life. The research indicates that intentional efforts by leaders of remote and hybrid environments are paying off, and work remains a source of friendships. Just over half (51%) of workers say their workplace offers ways to find and connect with colleagues with similar interests, but this is more common among remote and hybrid workers, with 65% saying this is available. For on-site workers it’s nearly reversed, with 63% saying their workplace does not have such offerings.

“The relationships we form at work play a very real role in our lives, whether it’s commiserating over a tough challenge or celebrating a team win,” said Dr. Benjamin Granger, chief workplace psychologist at Qualtrics. “Even as the way we work changes, the impact of having these social connections is clear. Fostering an environment that encourages and enables people to get to know one another makes for happier employees and can lessen turnover.”

Additional key insights

● Among generations, Gen Z employees, 18-24 years old, are least likely to have friends they would stay in touch with (55% have such friends), while workers between 45 and 54 years old are most likely to have these enduring friendships (72% do).

● More than half of remote and hybrid employees socialize with their coworkers both while at work as well as outside of work.

● Workers in hybrid environments are more likely to (1) socialize outside the workplace, (2) know what is going on in their coworkers’ lives and (3) be comfortable sharing information about their own lives than those who see their coworkers in person every day.

● Remote workers are significantly more likely to have daily check-ins with their team (25% do), while on-site workers are significantly more likely to say they never have live meetings with their team (22% never have them).

● While remote work opens up opportunities for employees to be located across multiple time zones, it can also mean irregular working hours. Thirty-five percent of employees have at least one recurring meeting scheduled outside of 8am-5pm. This jumps to as high as 60% of workers with colleagues spread across five time zones.

Methodology

This study was fielded in August 2022 to understand the impact of remote and hybrid work on employee relationships. Respondents were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the United States, are at least 18 years of age and working full-time. The total number of respondents was more than 1,000.

About Qualtrics

Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is changing the way organizations manage and improve the four core experiences of business—customer, employee, product and brand. Over 16,750 organizations around the world use Qualtrics to listen, understand and take action on experience data (X-data™)—the beliefs, emotions and intentions that tell you why things are happening, and what to do about it. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action that helps businesses attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who build a positive culture, develop breakthrough products people love and build a brand people are passionate about. To learn more, please visit qualtrics.com.