It’s hard to believe that over three years ago we were in a completely different mindset when it came to work - both physically and mentally. Up until 2020, in-office was the primary way to work. From 2020 to 2022, the world participated in a forced work-from-home experiment, introducing many to remote working. Today, flexibility reigns supreme, and hybrid is what employees desire, with 40% of employees working in a hybrid format.

One theme that has remained consistent post-pandemic is flexibility. Nordic employees are embracing flexible work - and they want more of it. This year’s data has shown (again) that employees feel more productive, balanced, and loyal to their companies when they have flexibility. Many employees will even make sacrifices for flexibility - 42% would give up 10% or more of their salary for flexible working hours, 24% would give up 15% or more for flexibility in their working location, and 5% would quit their job if they were no longer able to work remotely or hybrid.

Read on to uncover where the workplace is compared to 2022 and dive into the types of work that employees want or expect from their employers.

Key Findings

  1. 63% of Nordic workers believe that working from home should be a legal right

  2. Over 1 in 2 (53%) of respondents said that they believe their company is requiring them to work from the office because of traditional work expectations

  3. Over 1 in 3 (34%) employees have at least one additional job or “side hustle”

  4. If hybrid workers were required to be in the office full-time, 44% would go in but start looking for a new job, and 5% would quit

  5. Over 9 in 10 (91%) of workers said their meetings have at least one remote participant

  6. 8 in 10 (83%) employees have lost meeting time in their hybrid meetings due to technical difficulties

  7. 52% of workers feel like their company has too many communications platforms

  8. 36% of respondents said generative AI would allow them to do their job faster or more effectively in the next 5 years

  9. 63% of managers believe that their hybrid/remote working employees are missing out on impromptu or non-formal feedback

  10. Almost half (48%) of workers would be willing to give up 10% or more of their salary for a 4-day work week

  11. 38% of hybrid workers go to the office for a few hours to show their face and then go home - also known as “coffee badging”

  12. 1 in 2 workers are concerned that managers view those in the office as harder working and more trustworthy than their remote counterparts

  13. 16% said they would be enticed to go to the office if they were able to wear whatever clothing they wanted

  14. 68% of employees have taken at least one business trip in the past year and of those that took trips they said 74% of them could have been done virtually

  15. 37% of employees reported that their stress level has increased over the past year, 52% said it had stayed the same and 11% said it had decreased

The current state of affairs

Section 1

Every day it feels like a new term is introduced - from quiet quitting to office peacocking. Major companies have forced return-to-office mandates and then switched their position after employee pushback. Other companies have implemented work-from-anywhere policies and seen reduced turnover. It can feel impossible to keep up with the latest trends.

We came across some interesting trends in this year’s research. One is the concept of polyworking, describing when workers have two or more jobs. Our report shows that over a third of workers (34%) have at least one additional job or “side hustle” outside of their main full-time job, with an additional 38% saying they currently do not but would like one.

Another new trend is “coffee badging” - the act of going into the office to “show face” for a few hours and then leaving - which is more popular than one might think. Almost one in four (38%) hybrid employees have “coffee badged” with an additional 14% saying they haven’t but would like to try. And managers (48%) coffee badge almost two times as much as individual contributors (27%).

The data also shows that 2023 became the year that employees went back to the office. Surprisingly - or maybe not - 58% of this year’s respondents say they are in the office full-time, however, only 20% want to be. We also learned that 63% of employees believe that working from home should be a legal right.

Even though many employees returned to the office, their commitment to flexibility showed itself once again. Compensation is always a leading factor when it comes to retention and talent prospecting, however, employees are willing to take pay cuts for flexibility. Almost 1 in 4 (24%) would take a 15% or more pay cut to work a 4-day work week, and 24% would take the same pay cut for a fully remote working location. Almost 1 in 10 (7%) workers said they would take a 20% or more pay cut to have flexible working hours and 7% would take the same salary decrease for a flexible working location.

Here’s the current lay of the (working) land and the trends to know:


of respondents believe that working from home should be a legal right.

Let’s talk about workers’ preferred style versus what their employer is mandating:

0% 20% 40% 60% 20% 58% 22% 58% 40% 2% In-office:In-office:Hybrid:Hybrid:Remote:Remote:
preferred working style

3 days a week in-office seems to be the most popular working style for hybrid workers:

0% 20% 40% 14% 27% 38% 21% 1 day/week1 day/week2 days/week2 days/week3 days/week3 days/week4 days/week4 days/week
of respondents said that they believe their company is requiring them to work from the office because of traditional work expectations.

Top reasons why workers have an additional job:

Need additional income to cover expenses
Want additional income, even if they don’t need it
Full-time job is easy, and they have extra time
Additional job is their true passion, but they can’t do it for financial reasons
They enjoy a side project
Additional job is their true passion, and they’d like to do it full-time in the future

Managers make up over three-quarters of those workers with at least one additional job.


Managers of employees


Individual contributors

of workers said their top reason for wanting to start an additional job was their need for additional income to cover their expenses.

Around a third of hybrid workers go to the office for just a few hours to show their face (i.e., "coffee badging").

People who coffee badge: 38%
People who prefer to work in the office for the full workday: 48%
People who don’t coffee badge but are interested in doing so: 14%

Employee desires + employer mandates

Section 2

We know that what employers are mandating isn’t aligning with what employees want when it comes to in-office work. What happens when these numbers don’t match? Almost half (44%) said they would start to look for a new job, with 5% saying they would quit. And 12% of hybrid and remote workers surveyed would expect a pay increase to make up for the additional costs if they were no longer able to work from home.

In this year’s research, we also saw a slight shift in the top factors that matter most to employees - work flexibility jumped, along with access to good technology. We also found that 81% of respondents said an important factor in an employee’s working life is a supportive manager. This was just behind compensation at 83%. We saw this trend bubble up in the beginning 2023, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

What’s driving employees to stay or start looking elsewhere when it comes to their jobs? Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) switched companies in 2023, compared to 43% in 2021-2022. What’s interesting is that 24% of full-time office workers changed jobs in 2023 compared to just 12% of hybrid workers and 11% of remote workers. Almost 1 in 3 employees (27%) said they have not yet changed companies but are actively looking to do so.

The reasons they changed jobs or are actively seeking a new opportunity have remained pretty consistent year over year. This year, the top reasons are for better compensation (44%), for a better career opportunity (35%), and to do something they enjoy more (35%). We also learned what would cause workers not to accept a new job offer, and (maybe unsurprisingly) the top reasons were: not allowing for flexible working hours (41%), not allowing for a flexible working location (33%), and requiring employees to be in the office full-time (33%). What employees want is for employers to show them the money, drop the strict working hours, and give them flexibility. Job seekers highly value having autonomy over where and when they work - so companies offering flexible working hours (among other factors) will come out on top.

Being a manager today likely requires more effort than ever before. Oftentimes, employees are scattered across the country or even the globe. These leaders are battling employee burnout (and their own) while trying to maintain open communication and collaboration for themselves and among their teams.

Managing teams today - especially those new to the workforce or new to working in a hybrid format - poses its own unique challenges. Over 1 in 2 (63%) managers said that they feel that their team members are missing out on impromptu or in-formal feedback opportunities. However, only 45% of remote and hybrid workers agree.

What would hybrid/remote workers do if their employer required them to be in the office full-time without the option of hybrid work?

Would go to the office full-time but start looking for another job that offered hybrid work: 44%
Would go to the office full-time and not mind: 28%
Would go to the office full-time but be unhappy and less productive: 23%
Would quit: 5%

Companies and employee managers listen up, good technology may be more important than you realize with 76% of respondents saying this was important to them when working. Other important factors:

A supportive manager
The ability to work flexible hours
Good technology
Pay equity
The ability to work flexible days
An attractive office environment
The ability to work flexibly in terms of location
Growth opportunities
Office friendships
Flexible or non-existent dress code

A supportive manager

85% of women ranked a supportive manager as important or very important, compared to 78% of men.





The farther you work from the office the more important a supportive manager is:

0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 79% Office worker 83% Hybrid/remote worker

Productivity is always a top concern when it comes to employers. Workers reported that their current working style makes them feel:

More productive: 46%
No change, same level of productivity: 39%
Less productive: 11%
Not sure: 4%

So what have employers done to implement more effective hybrid work?

I don’t know
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 8% 42% 50% Added or enhanced employee learning and development opportunities 8% 43% 49% Installed new meeting room video and/or audio equipment to improve hybrid meetings 11% 44% 45% Trained employees on how to use mixed real-time and asynchronous methods of communication 10% 45% 45% Surveyed employees regarding their remote/hybrid work experience 10% 46% 44% Trained employees on how to hold effective and inclusive hybrid meetings 14% 43% 43% Trained managers on how to manage remote/hybrid teams 8% 50% 42% Conducted layoffs 13% 48% 39% Added or increased the use of employee activity tracking or monitoring software 10% 52% 38% Hired someone to manage the workplace experience for on-site or remote employees 9% 53% 38% Cut or reduced benefits 10% 53% 37% Adopted AI tech to replace or augment employee roles

53% of managers reported their companies added or increased the use of employee activity monitoring software, compared to just 19% of individual contributors.




Individual contributors

The many degrees of hybrid

Section 3

Hybrid work is nuanced with many layers - and when not executed intentionally, it can be destined for challenges. When hybrid employees were asked why they think their company requires them to be in-office, over 1 in 2 (53%) said because of traditional work expectations. Clearly, many employees are unconvinced or unsure about their company’s work policies.

We learned that employees don’t readily trust their company’s practices, with nearly 1 in 3 (30%) saying it’s likely that their employer will change their remote or hybrid work policy in the next year and an additional 20% saying they are unsure. Communication and transparency are crucial when it comes to creating effective and comfortable work environments.

Though some employees are skeptical about the rationale of why they have to be in the office, it’s important to note that the story isn’t that all employees are reluctant to go to the office, they just think the office works better for some tasks than others. 40% of hybrid workers say the office works best for team meetings, 33% for formal or informal learning, and 37% prefer it for collaborating. They shouldn’t have to choose between one or the other - if productivity remains the same or increased, employees should have autonomy on where they spend their time working.

Another topic showing staying power when it comes to hybrid working is proximity bias - the tendency of leadership to show favoritism or preferential treatment to employees that are close to them physically - which is still quite prevalent today. 1 in 2 workers are concerned that managers view those in the office as harder working and more trustworthy than their remote counterparts, 48% are concerned that working remotely will mean they have less of a say at work and miss out on opportunities, and 58% said they are more likely to ask the opinion of those they physically work with over their remote colleagues. Clearly, there is more work to do here.

In 2023, we have seen some companies doing their best to entice employees into the office instead of mandating it in a more “employee-choice” hybrid format. What matters most to hybrid employees when it comes to returning to the office? Hint: snacks do play a part. At the top of the list are free or subsidized food and beverages (35%), followed by a chance to see work friends (32%), and a shorter commute (29%). Surprisingly - or not - 16% said they would be enticed to go to the office if they were able to wear whatever they wanted.


of workers think their employer will change their remote hybrid working policy in the next year.

The office serves an important purpose because some tasks are more effective when we can collaborate IRL. The office shouldn’t be a requirement but a flexible arrangement where employees can decide where they work best: say hello (again) to task-based hybrid work.

Hybrid workers experience both in-office and remote work on a weekly basis. Here’s where hybrid workers say they are the most productive:

0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 15% 33% 52% Meeting new people 20% 33% 47% Managing others 20% 43% 37% Collaborating 28% 29% 43% Advancing my career 23% 37% 40% Team meetings 22% 45% 33% Innovating/brainstorming 43% 23% 34% Meeting deadlines 39% 28% 33% Formal/informal learning 47% 29% 24% Thinking creatively 55% 20% 25% Focusing 58% 19% 23% Working independently 60% 22% 18% Balancing work and life

What size pay cut would workers take for key benefits?

I already have this benefit
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 9% 8% 16% 18% 16% 33% Fully remote working location 25% 6% 15% 15% 10% 29% Wear whatever clothing/style I want 5% 9% 15% 24% 22% 25% 4-day work week (8hr/day) 19% 7% 16% 19% 15% 24% Flexible working location 6% 8% 18% 23% 22% 23% More/unlimited vacation 23% 7% 17% 18% 16% 19% Flexible working hours

How do workers find building relationships with remote colleagues compared to in-office colleagues?

Find it easier: 34%
Makes no difference: 30%
Find it harder: 30%
N/A: 6%

Stress in the workplace

How did workers’ stress levels change over the past year?

Increased: 37%
Stayed the same: 52%
Decreased: 11%

The closer you work to the office, the more stress you’ve had in the past year.

Office workers: 38%
Hybrid workers: 36%
Remote workers: 22%

43% of managers’ work-related stress levels have increased in the past year compared to just 28% of non-managers’.





Workplace modernization + looking ahead

Section 4

The traditional office and its tech no longer meet today’s working needs. In fact, 52% of workers said they feel their employer uses too many communication platforms, so much so, 20% said it can be overwhelming. Good technology matters and is a crucial factor in the effectiveness of hybrid work.

Over 9 in 10 (91%) of workers said their meetings have at least one remote participant. This makes reliable and easy-to-use technology an office essential. When you don’t have the right technology, meetings can suffer. In 2023, 83% of employees reported that they have lost meeting time due to tech difficulties. We learned that 83% have difficulty seeing people’s faces and therefore miss visual cues (with 14% saying this always happens) and 81% reported audio issues.

We’ve also learned that only 27% of companies have upgraded their meeting technology in the last year. There is a clear disconnect between employee needs and what companies are providing when it comes to basic communication and collaboration.

Now it’s time to look into our crystal ball and share our predictions for the rest of the year and beyond. From generative AI to Apple goggles, there is a lot on the horizon and it’s happening fast. So what could be implemented today and what will be adopted in the (near) future?

Over 1 in 3 (37%) of workers said their employers adopted AI technology to replace or augment employees’ roles this year. However, employees don’t seem to be overly concerned about the use of generative AI (like ChatGPT) with 36% saying it will help them do their job more effectively and faster. On the flip side, almost 1 in 4 (22%) feel that it would compete with their job, and 16% are concerned it will steal their jobs altogether.

When it comes to future technologies that employees want their employers to adopt in the next two years, AI or AI assistants (34%) are at the top of the list, followed by AR or mixed reality devices (30%), and improved video conferencing technologies at 29%. Only 25% are interested in a virtual reality (VR) headset.

Every meeting type has its challenges. Here are the top hybrid meeting challenges.

0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 17% 39% 30% 14% Not being able to see faces and therefore missing visual cues 17% 42% 27% 14% Lost time due to technical difficulties 20% 43% 24% 13% Not being able to hear everyone 23% 37% 27% 13% Feeling disengaged 19% 42% 26% 13% Audio/echo distortion 27% 37% 24% 12% Not being able to see the whiteboard 26% 39% 23% 12% Not being able to see the presentation 22% 37% 29% 12% Difficulty contributing to the conversation 31% 35% 23% 11% Feeling left out

What effect do workers think generative AI, like ChatGPT, will have on their jobs in the next 5 years?

0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 36% It will help them do their job faster/more effectively 29% It will make their job more interesting 24% It will create new jobs and their team will grow 22% It will compete with their job 22% It will cause ethical issues in their workplace 16% It will steal their job 13% It won’t have an effect


As the data has shown, hybrid working has many benefits and, in most cases, is the preferential way to work. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges associated with this style of working. Hybrid working is like an onion - peel off one layer and you have another, and another…

There is not to be a one-size-fits-all approach, but many ways to execute hybrid working well. Successful hybrid work takes intention, thoughtfulness, and 360-communication that includes the ability to pivot or change policies when they aren’t quite working.

Our main takeaway for this year’s report can be summarized with one word: Flexibility. It’s overwhelmingly what employees want and something companies can offer effectively if executed with intention. We hope you enjoyed our latest edition of Owl Labs’ State of Hybrid Work. We look forward to continuing to bring you this research each year as your trusted, go-to data source.

Thanks for taking the time to read our report. We hope it will help you transform your organization for the better, and work towards a more flexible future.

Reach out to with any press inquiries and questions.

Background + Demographics


Owl Labs surveyed 2,000 full-time workers in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, ages 18+, at companies with 2+ employees. This survey data was collected in June 2023 in partnership with the research consultancy, Vitreous World.


Male: 56%
Female: 44%


Gen Z (18-26): 16%
Millennials (27-41): 61%
Gen X (43-54): 17%
Boomers (55+): 6%

Caretaker role

I have children living at home some or all of the time
I am the primary caregiver for dependents in my home or nearby
I have occasional caregiving responsibilities for children or other dependants outside my home
I do not have children or children living at home and am not a caregiver for any dependants
Prefer not to say

Company size

2-99: 29%
100-249: 21%
250-999: 27%
1,000-4,999: 12%
5,000+: 11%



Manager of employees


Individual contributor

Worker type

In-office: 58%
Hybrid (structured and employee choice): 40%
Remote: 2%

Years at company

0-12 months: 7%
1-2 years: 16%
3-5 years: 33%
6-8 years: 24%
9-10 years: 6%
10+ years: 14%

About Owl Labs

Owl Labs is the first company to build AI-powered, 360-degree video conferencing solutions for hybrid organisations. Its suite of products makes meetings more inclusive and collaborative by levelling the playing field between remote and in-room participants. The company’s flagship product, the Meeting Owl 3®, is the first WiFi-enabled, 360-degree camera, microphone and speaker that automatically zooms in on whoever’s speaking. Owl Labs has raised $47 million in funding and is based in Boston, with remote and hybrid employees all over the world. To learn more, visit


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