Companies continue to wrestle with how often their employees should come into the office versus work remotely.
Different leaders have different opinions on what the best choice is, but looking at research can help management decide how they want to structure remote and in-person work.
This post will explore the research around remote and in-person work, and how those findings can be used to create hybrid workplace plans.
Recent data suggest that working remotely leads to higher productivity than working in an office environment.
A 2021 Owl Labs study reveals that remote workers:
Much of the increased productivity is likely attributed to the benefits of a distraction-free environment (1, 2).
The Owl Labs report also indicated that:
On the other hand, research shows that managers have a very different opinion than employees about whether or not remote work increases productivity.
Managers are more inclined to say that remote work has hindered productivity, while employees report the opposite (2).
This discrepancy could come down to the issue of commuting: Employees often measure their productivity based on how much time they don’t have to spend traveling to and from the office. However, managers might not consider this when assessing their team’s output (2).
Research shows remote work benefits employees’ mental health, even when it’s only 1-2 days per week (1).
In fact, 84% of employees said they were happier when working from home and even claimed they would be willing to take a pay cut for the privilege (1).
On the other hand, some research suggests that remote work isn’t always positive.
In a 2021 survey by the American Psychiatric Association, over 50% of people working remotely reported a decrease in their mental health.
Commonly reported negative impacts included isolation, loneliness, and difficulty unplugging from their jobs (4).
Research into remote and in-person work can be conflicting, so it’s essential to factor in generational differences when considering the results.
Baby Boomers and previous generations are more accustomed to working in an office and don’t necessarily consider remote work a priority or requirement.
They often view it as a “nice” bonus but not essential for the job (3).
On the other hand, Millennials prioritize remote flexibility and may even avoid specific job opportunities if there is no remote element. This is likely because Millennials have a very different view of work than previous generations, preferring more work-life balance (3).
Millennials currently make up most of the workforce. As younger generations continue to enter, the reality is that demand for flexible work options isn’t going away; instead, it will continue to grow.
Innovative businesses will recognize this and move to a more flexible work model if they haven’t done so already.
Companies must prepare for an influx of employees who desire flexible remote and hybrid options to avoid falling behind their competitors and losing out on valuable young talent (3).
In the upcoming years, businesses should embrace flexible working options to stay competitive in their respective industries.
A recent study conducted by Harvard Business School found that one or two days per week in the office using a flexible schedule produces the best outcomes for both businesses and employees with respect to engagement and productivity (5).
When using this hybrid model, however, companies should not simply require their employees to randomly come into the office one or two days per week. Instead, time spent in the office should be intentionally planned.
Intentional, meaningful office time can include:
Getting teams together in the office should be prioritized, since having separate hybrid schedules would likely be “counterproductive” (5).
Additionally, hybrid models shouldn’t be rigid, but rather embrace flexibility.
Consider allowing teams to decide on their own when to spend time in the office. For example, it could be certain days each week or one week out of the month.
Depending on their industry and mission, companies whose nature has historically been “in office” should consider the advantages of implementing a flexible hybrid remote work model.
Ultimately, a flexible hybrid remote work model can provide numerous benefits for employers and employees – giving individual teams the freedom to choose their preferred working style, increasing productivity, and developing a more satisfied workforce.
As the desire for remote and hybrid work rises with each new generation, embracing this model can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and attract the best talent.
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