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In the Remote VS Hybrid Work Debate, it Turns Out Science Knows Best

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As we head down the final strait of 2023, consider: where and when were you at your most productive this year. Did you spend a majority of time in the office, working from home, or elsewhere? Where were you at your best? 

Ask yourself if you’d have spent more time in the office, given the opportunity. Are you envious of those who get the best of both worlds? These are all important questions, and the answers to which may pave the way for the ongoing evolution of work.

One school of thought is that the remote work experiment has been a failure. In May, Sam Altman, founder of OpenAI, said that the assumption that everybody could go “fully remote forever” was one of the tech industry’s biggest mistakes, particularly in the case of startups. 

In a separate post on X (formerly Twitter), Altman said, “the cracks are beginning to show.” Meanwhile, Google announced that employees would be required to attend the office at least three days a week, with other companies adopting similar policies. 

One of several reasons cited for this turn of the tide is to harness the creativity that comes from in-person collaboration, and that the new world of remote work is depriving younger people of an avenue for personal growth and life experience. 

According to analysis by Gallup, workplaces with strong interpersonal bonds feature improved performance and lower staff turnover. 

People power

There are well-documented arguments for and against. Remote work saves money on commuting and other expenses (including company overheads), and allows more family time and so-called “life admin”. 

In-office work is better for collaboration, innovation and networking. Extensive research by Gallup, both pre and post-pandemic, provides valuable insights into exactly how certain work environments deliver value

Thirty two percent of employees believe that virtual meetings are less valuable than in-person, compared to 17% who feel the opposite. Interestingly, 51% of respondents believe there is no difference. 

The research also found a gap between what actually constitutes collaboration. Just over six in ten workers work independently before bringing their work to the team for collaborative review. 

In other words, for some, a majority of their work is done solo anyway, so the perceived value of in-person collaboration is lessened in their perspective. 

For business leaders, employee engagement is vital, whether the individual values it or not. Research reveals that two to three days in-office resulted in the best levels of engagement and wellbeing, while also helping to reduce burnout and staff turnover. 

It should come as no surprise that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the days people tend to favor most. 

Perhaps the most interesting takeaway there, from a management point of view, is that employee engagement for those attending the office five days a week is equal or lower than those on three days in. In other words, the hybrid model really does work. 

Here are some tips on how to efficiently develop a hybrid model to everyone’s benefit.

Commit to hybrid work for remote employees

There may be reluctance or pushback from fully remote teams. But by meeting them halfway, expounding the virtues of hybrid and addressing their concerns, they’ll come around. 

Standardise compulsory in-office days

Any uncertainty about the when will lead to a drop in engagement, both in productivity and social bonding terms. Compulsory days can be something to look forward to, if there is something in it for everyone.

Train managers in new leadership concepts

Boosting engagement at manager level will empower teams, and help to create new goals and objectives.

If your workplace’s remote and hybrid policy isn’t working for you and it’s time to move on, visit the nextpit Job Board to find your perfect placement.

IT services consultant Booz Allen Hamilton has multiple roles advertised across its entire U.S. network of bases, including a NetApp Engineer to join the team in San Diego. This well-remunerated role provides an exciting opportunity to shape digital systems aiding U.S. Navy forces in the field. You will not only design and develop these systems, but also evolve them with advanced technology to ensure the systems comply with the relevant data privacy and protection frameworks, and adhere to industry best practices. 

Over in New York, another IT services provider, eClerx, is aiming to boost productivity across its entire network by hiring a Scrum Lead. This exciting and highly influential role, aimed at experienced leaders across multiple disciplines, will see you lead company policy in quarterly and sprint planning, meeting targets and forward-planning. If you are an evangelist for Agile and Scrum-led workplaces, this role may be a thrilling opportunity for you.  

A unique opportunity is available at the Arizona State University in Phoenix, that of Lead 3D Animator. The university’s EdPlus department is focused on the design and scalable delivery of digital teaching and learning models, and in this role you will create and deliver cutting-edge educational products and solutions, encompassing virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and emerging technologies.

Start your job search today via the nextpit Job Board. This article was written by Doug Whelan.

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