New JLL ‘Worker Preference Barometer’ reveals work-life balance more important than salary

New JLL ‘Worker Preference Barometer’ reveals work-life balance more important than salary

A majority of workers in a recent survey now say that work-life balance and the ability to flexibly work from home and at the office is now more important than pay.

That’s the striking finding in a new “Worker Preference Barometer” survey by JLL, which gauged the evolving interests and priorities of more than 3,000 respondents in 10 countries.

The new survey shows a cementing desire for hybrid work arrangements, of being able to both work at home and go to the office while also revealing a growing fatigue and decline in productivity by those working from home as well as a desire for more of the kind of human interaction that comes with going to the office.

The recent survey showed that 88% of respondents would like more flexible working hours in the future, increasing from 71% the year before.

The respondents called having a great work-life balance their number one priority for the second time, first edging out earning a comfortable salary in the previous survey in October 2020.

According to JLL: “It’s confirmed: ‘work-life balance’ is the new employee motto, designated as the number one priority of the workforce today, ahead of a comfortable salary. Working in an environment that puts health and well-being at the forefront is more important than ever.”

The range of preferences revealed in the survey can show often conflicting attitudes by workers with changing attitudes about their circumstances, now well more than a year after the various restrictions of the pandemic first started as companies of all kinds work to decide on how to get back to the offices and when.

For instance, the percentage of respondents interested in a hybrid work arrangement is actually declining, with 63% expressing a preference for it now versus 69% last October.

At the same time, the desire to get back to the office at least once a week is growing, rising from 74% last October to 79% now.

Workers are also responding that they’re beginning to feel less productive at home now, with only 37% reporting they feel more productive working from home versus the office, a decline from what was nearly a 50-50 split previously.

How any of these evolving preferences can be reflected in leasing activity for the local office market can be tricky to deduce.

Jason Stewart, the managing director for agency leasing in the Pittsburgh office of JLL, suspects it is still too soon to know for sure how such preferences will be reflected in local office leasing activity to come.

Instead, he’s seeking a healthy uptick in new leasing activity, including some expansion moves both downtown and in the north suburbs.

He sees the office moves beginning to happen now as more aligned with past preferences than any major changes in thinking brought on by the pandemic.

“Surveys aside, I’m starting to see habits prompt leasing as opposed to new policy,” he said.

Stewart expects policy shifts by major companies such as PNC and Bank of New York Mellon can have a major influence on the subject.

But he also sees leasing activity increasing.

“Are we doing better in June of 2021 than I thought we would?” he said. “Yeah, we are.”