TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A recent study of workplace practices and attitudes by Ernst and Young found more businesses in the United States are starting to put a four-day work week into use, as well as an increase in hybrid work options for employees.

Ernst and Young said shifts in workforce practices and attitudes come as the U.S. economy cools and ahead of a potential recession after the 2022 holiday season.

The changes to how employees work, and where, is impacting company real estate strategies, with some businesses “investing in hyperlocal offices to promote a return to the office” and others reconsidering their investments for in-person events, feeding employees, reimbursing commuter costs, or providing for childcare support programs as incentives for returning to the office.

According to the EY survey, more than 70% of American employees surveyed are working from home half of the week, while 40% of the companies surveyed are already using a four day week or creating one. In 2021, only 42% of employees surveyed were using a “hybrid approach” to workflow.

“A prolonged, tight labor market and changing work patterns have employers doing all they can to attract and retain their workforce, and many are adjusting the role of the office to stay competitive,” Ernst and Young reported. “A company’s overall working model must accommodate hybrid working or risk employees searching for more flexible options. The Index found that 69% of company leadership has implemented or is in the process of implementing hybrid work technologies to meet employees where they are.”

CNBC noted the EY report came as every industry, especially in the technology development world, mass layoffs were coming. The layoffs follow a year of record high resignations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the “record rates of job quitting during the pandemic,” called the “Great Resignation” came as “return-to-office mandates, attractive job offers from competing employers, and revelations about better work–life balance have motivated a ‘record-breaking departure from jobs in a shockingly small window of time.’”

However, BLS’ review of employment data and research into the changes to work attitudes during COVID-19 said that the “attribution of the Great Resignation to the pandemic” may not be correct. Instead, BLS’ review, written by Vincent Amanor-Boadu, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University, said the record level of resignations may, at least in part, be due to employees prioritizing not just how much they earn, but who they work for.

Self-employment grew during the pandemic, according to the BLS data, and Amanor-Boadu writes that while typical labor market studies assume the dynamics revolve around wage rates and labor force participation, the switch to self-employment “suggests that the factors influencing quits during the COVID-19 pandemic” were different from the dot-com recession and Great Recession.

Compared to the previous economic crises, the COVID-19 pandemic presented what Amanor-Boadu said may be unique impacts on how long, how far, and how wide the impacts ranged among American workers.

Simultaneously, the record numbers of exiting employees accompanied historically high inflation, a housing crisis, multiple supply chain snarls, and changes in attitude regarding worker rights, wages, and work-life balances.

In EY’s “workplace insight” report, changes to workplace environments are shifting toward a greener, more flexible, and more technology-dependent strategy.

The EY Workplace Insight study said:

  • 78% of landlords plan to increase investment in workplace technology
  • 50% of business processes and systems will incorporate some element of the Internet of Things
  • 80% of U.S. occupiers have achieved or plan to achieve voluntary green building certification

“Executives continue to invest in improving employee quality of life, according to EY. Forty-six percent of surveyed employers plan to introduce in-office baristas. A third of surveyed executives plan to implement or extend their childcare options for employees,” as reported by CNBC diving into the survey results. “These changes come after the Covid-19 pandemic bruised employees and drove an uptick in resignations across sectors.”