Hybrid work could be a win-win — if employers handle it right

Hybrid work has become a new normal for many employees, but according to Gallup, there are right and wrong ways to structure in-office policies. A recent Gallup article revealed that 80% of remote-capable employees expect to either work in a hybrid or fully remote environment in the long term. This data is based on a random sample of 16,586 adults collected in mid-June, as well as responses from 135 Fortune 500 chief human resource officers in late June and early July.

Gallup's research highlights the preferences of hybrid employees. Among them, 40% prefer to be in the office two to three days a week. While some managers may prefer having employees in the office more frequently to improve team cohesion and productivity, Gallup's findings indicate that these in-office days need intentional planning by employers in order to see the desired benefits. Failure to communicate the reasons behind hybrid work strategies or to consider employees' preferences and needs can result in decreased productivity and an erosion of team culture.

However, the benefits of hybrid work are significant. Hybrid workers consistently report experiencing less burnout, a better work-life balance, and increased autonomy. Over half of the surveyed employees reported higher productivity, despite the potential challenges of communication and collaboration in a hybrid setting. Gallup also discovered that hybrid workers exhibit higher levels of employee engagement, lower turnover intentions, and better overall well-being compared to those who work exclusively in person.

Gallup suggests a rethinking of remote work strategies. While the advantages of hybrid work are clear, only 12% of surveyed hybrid employees reported that their team's hybrid work policies were developed through a collaborative decision-making process. Gallup emphasizes that simply working in the office is not the sole determining factor for hybrid work success, especially considering that 60% of hybrid employees are not able to set their own office schedules. Managers should allow teams time to adapt to the hybrid work model, and employees should be given the opportunity to advocate for more flexible schedules.

Gallup warns that pushing employees too hard to work in the office or placing too much emphasis on tracking performance when working remotely can lead to increased tension in the workplace. To create a strong hybrid workplace, Gallup suggests crafting a "workplace value proposition" that intentionally designs hybrid policies to improve team cohesion while empowering employees. Additionally, implementing new training mechanisms and performance management tools can go a long way in supporting hybrid work environments. Gallup also recommends regular check-in meetings between employees and their managers to review individual goals and provide proactive coaching for excelling in a hybrid work setting.   

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