94% of bosses notice employee contributions more at the office

According to new research, an overwhelming majority of UK business leaders (94%) take more notice of their employees’ work contributions when they are in the office versus when they work from home. The survey, released by Envoy, compares the workplace opinions of UK executives and employees. The results reveal significant gaps in how both groups view the office.

Proximity bias is still a major factor despite greater awareness. While business leaders say they recognise the work of teams and individuals more when they’re in the office, 45% of employees disagree. They don’t believe that their contributions are recognised more when they work from the office. Looking at the generational gap, Gen Z employees value workplace visibility more than any other generation. They are the most aligned with leadership. 72% believe their contributions are noticed more in-office than at home.

Employees also continue to worry about traditional workplace taboos, such as leaving early. However, the survey reveals leaders are a lot more accommodating than employees think. 51% of employees believe their bosses will judge them for leaving the office early, but over two-thirds of executives (68%) say they wouldn’t view it negatively. Additionally, 52% of employees feel bringing a pet to the workplace would be viewed poorly by managers; yet 71% of leaders disagree. Even running personal errands during the workday is considered fine with most leadership. Only 33% would frown upon it; however, 53% of employees say differently.

Despite these contrasting views, there is overall agreement that workers are returning to a more flexible, and in many ways community-focused, workplace. Envoy’s survey also found:

The physical office is key for mental well-being and community-building. 

  • 70% of office workers say being in the office is good for their mental well-being.
  • Most leaders (94%) and employees (83%) feel that office work life provides a sense of community. In-person touchpoints are helping develop rapport, which builds stronger relationships for better cross-functional work.

Employees and executives agree that the most important outcome when working in the office is productivity. 

  • When asked which is the most important result when working in an office – productivity or building relationships with co-workers – over half of employees (55%) and executives (52%) chose productivity.
  • Female executives, younger executives, and those newer in their position are more likely to say productivity is the most important outcome.
    • 64%** of women executives think productivity is more important than relationship building while only 47% of their male counterparts think likewise.
    • 61%** of executives under 40 think productivity is more important compared with 47% who are 40 or older.
    • 62%** of director-level leaders versus 47% of C-suite executives think productivity is more important.

Long commutes continue to top the list of workplace deal breakers.

  • The biggest workplace deal breakers for employees are long commutes (52%), no flexibility in work hours (34%) and slow or outdated technology (32%).
  • But when asked what they believed were their employees’ biggest concerns, leaders said the disregard of COVID-19 safety precautions (42%), no flexibility in work hours (36%) and lack of opportunities to socialise (33%).
  • Leaders missed the mark by overlooking the costs of commuting and the lack of the latest technology as chief factors of concern for workers.

Leaders find it much easier than employees to leave work at work.

  • When working in an office, 74% of executives* feel it’s easier to leave work behind compared to working from home.
  • Only 42% of employees* find it easier. 22%* consider it more difficult to sign off.
  • Despite what leaders may believe about being able to ‘turn work off’ after leaving the office, employees find it difficult to maintain a healthy work life balance when working from the office.