BCG Henderson Institute

The pandemic broadened the aperture on flexibility, unlocking unprecedented shifts in where, when, and how we work. For a significant subset of employees—largely those who are office-based and whose work can be done anywhere with a laptop and the internet—flexibility became standard practice. Moreover, it has become an expectation that workers have of their employers: an expectation that is currently being challenged by a wave of return-to-office policies.

The question “What is the right work model policy?” looms large for leaders today. But that is not the right question to be asking. The right one is “How do we construct work to optimize both productivity and joy?” And the answer to that question can be found only through a deep understanding of how people do their best work—across all categories of responsibilities and tasks. This is the key finding from our surveys of more than 1,500 global office-based workers’ behaviors and preferences, which complement our research on how to make work work better for deskless workers.

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