The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies around the globe to embrace remote work. For most, the results were far better than feared, and the majority of employees tended to prefer the arrangement, as well. Still, now that the impetus for remote work has subsided, there’s little need to maintain the remote work paradigm. Many companies are trying to split the difference with their staffs by attempting so-called hybrid work models, whereby employees come into the office on some days and work remotely on others.
In an article for BBC Worklife, Meredith Turits discusses some trends and insights that are starting to emerge as companies and staff continue to cut their teeth on hybrid work.
3-2 Splits Struggling
Many companies’ version of hybrid work involves coming into the office 2 or 3 days a week and working remotely the rest of the week. “Many workers—and subsequently companies—are calling these meet-in-the-middle set-ups ‘duds,’” says Turits. “And research is beginning to bust the idea that approximately three days is the right in-office number: according to April 2022 Harvard Business School research, the sweet spot for office days may, in fact, be as few as one.”
No One-Size-Fits-All Model
It’s certainly not the case that the traditional, full-time in-office employment model was universally revered by employees. However, they were accustomed to it. It was familiar and accepted. But now that employers are trying to tinker with the model, they’re finding it’s impossible to please everyone.
“If there’s one thing employers and employees alike have learned about work during the pandemic, it’s that people have very different needs,” adds Turits. “What an ideal work set-up looks like for one worker couldn’t be a worse fit for another – and it’s virtually impossible to design a policy that accounts for every situation (and, no, fully remote work isn’t a universal panacea, either).”
Redesigning the Office
When workers are only spending part of their productive time in the office, the structure and layout of the office often need to change. Collaboration has become one of the primary reasons for staff to be physically present together in the office. Consequently, more space has been dedicated to group workspace than was the case pre-pandemic.
Now that there’s no longer a public health need to work remotely, many employers are trying to find a balance between continuing remote work and bringing staff back into the office. This hybrid approach is relatively novel for most organizations, and they’ve been learning some important lessons about the effectiveness of different policies.
Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.