The hybrid experiment is gaining traction. Gallup’s research showed that by 2023, the number of U.S. employees who worked exclusively remotely had stabilized at 28%, while 20% were on-site, and 52% were working in a blended arrangement. The overall economy, the labor market and the impact of recession will determine whether these proportions continue.
The Best of Both
The basic models for hybrid work can be easily understood:
- Shifts – the entire team works remotely for the remainder of the week.
- Split teams – some people can work remotely and others on site.
- Flexible – Employees can choose the location they want to work.
Most hybrid employers have experimented with weekly configurations that include three days at the office and then two days away. Although three days at the office are seen as a good balance, there are many different patterns. Harvard Business School’s research, for example, recommended only one day in the office!
Different employees have different preferences. However, it is important to note that executives are more likely to want to work in offices full-time than workers. All employees have different preferences, but they are not based on seniority. Gallup conducted a survey of 8,090 respondents in 2022 to assess the pros and cons for hybrid arrangements.
Findings demonstrated that there are many benefits.
- Improved work-life balance.
- Time is better spent.
- You can choose where to work and when.
- Productivity is higher.
- Reduced fatigue, burnout and stress.
- Coordination, collaboration and communication between departments will be easier.
Stanford University found that hybrid employees are more productive away from noisy offices, they reduce commute time and costs, they gain self-esteem and their managers trust them.
The availability of a wider talent pool and the cost savings in space (rent, utilities and supplies) and materials (supplies, food and other materials) are appreciated by employers.
The respondents also cited notable challenges. The respondents cited a lack in access to equipment and resources, as well as a separation from the office culture and relationships. It can also be emotionally draining for people to constantly switch between schedules and locations. This may also not be possible for those who have client- or customers-facing jobs and may cause resentment towards other colleagues with more flexible deals. Should those who toil in the office get paid more?
Making hybrids succeed
Managers can ensure that hybrid arrangements run smoothly by taking certain steps.
Designate which days will be for office work. Prodoscore’s research shows that Tuesday to Thursday between 10:30 am and 3 pm is the most productive time for workers. However, creative tasks are best done at home. If a team is working from home, they will all perform poorly, because no one wants the extra time.
The manager should establish initial expectations. They should ask themselves why they are actually going hybrid. Will the team members be able to schedule their own work hours? They can also help the employees to interact with each other and use equipment while they are on site.
Communication policies should be clear. Provide feedback in person. Virtual tools and constant updates can be used to connect remote employees with in-house staff. You may have to modify software platforms in order to include data visualizations and progress reports, as well as project management.
The benefits of hybrid work are many
Insufficient longitudinal data exists to prove that hybrid workers are more efficient. It is evident that the ability to be flexible attracts and keeps talent. Make sure your employees are aware of their responsibilities, whether it’s for mental health, child care or access to green spaces. What do they do during their free time? Gallup says that they spend their at-home hours a mixture of working (86%), learning (27%), innovating (26%), attending meetings (24%) as well as exercising (22%).
You should take that with a grain of salt. Probably some are watching TV. Some managers are willing to make a trade-off in order to keep their team happy.