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Digiday+ Research: Publishers keep a firm footing in remote, hybrid work

As publishers emerge from the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s becoming increasingly clear that many aspects of the industry have changed permanently — including the workforce itself.

Digiday+ Research surveyed publisher professionals several times between the second quarter of 2021 and the third quarter of this year to take stock of the state of work in the industry. The results revealed that publishers are heading back to the office — or are at least ready to. But the future of full-time office work certainly looks different for publisher pros than it did before the pandemic.

Over the last year and a half, the percentage of publisher execs who haven’t worked in an office full-time in the past year has trended downward, from 84% in Q2 of last year to 69% in Q3 of this year. Meanwhile, the percentage of those who said they are willing to go into the office full-time within the next month has jumped from 10% to 35% over the same period. And the percentage of those who actually have gone back to the office full-time in the past month has increased from 11% to 29%, Digiday’s survey found.

However, the percentage of publishers who haven’t gone into the office full-time in the past year remains very high: 69% of respondents to Digiday’s survey fall into this group. And, very interestingly, the percentage of those who are not willing to work full-time in an office in the next year has trended upward: from 33% in Q2 of last year to 53% in Q3 of this year.

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This brings us to publishers’ future of work heavily leaning toward being remote — or at least hybrid.

While Digiday’s survey found that a significant number of publishers might not want to go back to full-time office life, respondents’ reception to hybrid work options was much warmer. For example, the percentage of publisher pros who are willing to go into the office at least once in the next month shot up from slightly more than a third in Q2 of last year to 84% in Q3 of this year. Meanwhile, the percentage of those who have actually gone into the office at least once in the last month has trended strongly upward from 30% a year and a half ago to more than three-quarters now, Digiday’s survey found.

At the same time, nearly half of respondents to Digiday’s survey said they hadn’t gone into the office even once in the past year in Q2 of 2021. That number is down to 13% in Q3 of this year.

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Regardless of their office status, Digiday’s survey found that publishers are back to meeting in-person: The percentage of publisher pros who haven’t attended an in-person business meeting in the past year hit a low of only 4% in Q3 of this year.

Meanwhile, the percentages of those who have attended in-person meetings in the past month and who are willing to do so in the next month shot upward over the last year and a half: Three-quarters of respondents said they attended an in-person business meeting in the past month this summer, compared with only 13% in Q2 2021, and 87% said they are willing to attend an in-person meeting in the next month in the most recent survey, compared with 31% in Q2 of last year.

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