Written by Chris Russell
7th April, 2022
Hybrid Work Environment Equals Happy Employees
Hybrid work is set to become the norm in corporate America. A recent survey by employee listening company Perceptyx shows that a hybrid workplace is superior to remote work on a host of well-being measures. Hybrid employees, defined as those who work at both in-person and remote workplaces – report greater improvements in work-life balance and mental health, more time for exercising, and a greater intention to stay at their current company because of this kind of work flexibility.
Hybrid Employees Are More Efficient
There is a disconnect happening however. While many managers believe having workers at the same physical location strengthens their relationships, hybrid employees are reporting the opposite in this survey of 1,400 working Americans.
- Only 1/3 of fully remote workers and fully in-person workers say they have stronger relationships in the office compared to last year.
- More than half of hybrid workers (53%, compared to remote workers’ 34%) report the same thing, indicating that it’s not how much time they are spending with in-person coworkers, but how purposeful those in-office interactions are.
Measures of burnout – closely linked to churn rates – are also much better for hybrid employees. These workers are 50% more likely to look forward to starting their workdays and feeling like they make a meaningful contribution to their workplace. They are nearly twice as likely to feel energized by their work than either their fully remote or fully in-person counterparts.
“The key to making hybrid work successful is autonomy. Dictating certain days on-site is just as ineffective as requiring 100 percent in-person. When employees get that autonomy, they thrive,” said Emily Killham, Director of Research and Insights at Perceptyx. “Organizations who want to compete for talent will have to find creative ways to offer that autonomy, even for on-site jobs. Flexibility in work scheduling gives employees the room they need to manage their lives and be more engaged during the work day.”
Hybrid Work Does Have Gaps
Perceptyx also found that the gap between how managers and employees view productivity and their physical location has only grown wider. 45% of leaders think their team members’ relationships will grow stronger when the whole team is at the same location, while only 17% of employees think the same. I can see why, being in person helps to build trust which is harder when fully remote.
As they found out last year in this study on officism, managers and leaders show a bias toward believing those in the physical workplace are more productive. Compared to individual contributors, managers are three times as likely, and leaders are five times as likely, to say that remote workers are less productive than in-office employees. This contradicts what the employees themselves are reporting – hybrid workers were the most likely of all employees to say their own productivity is up, while in-person workers were most likely to say their productivity is lower than the year before.
Faced with evidence that in-office workers are not necessarily their happiest employees, many companies are reconsidering their return-to-office plans. Some Human Resources departments are no longer asking when or how the return-to-office plans will work, but whether they should be implemented at all. Just ask Apple employees. They are threatening to quit over a new hybrid schedule the computer giant wants to implement.
“These findings don’t mean that every employee must have a remote option, but it does point the way on how to keep employees engaged,” said Killham. “Officism clearly still exists, especially among managers and leaders. So organizations must start tracking development opportunities, performance ratings, and promotions based on the physical location of their employees. That way they can be prepared to correct any bias that the data shows and strive toward an equitable workplace.”