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Thriving in a Hybrid Work Environment – With Insight from People Scientist Georgie Brown

Thriving in a Hybrid Work Environment – With Insight from People Scientist Georgie Brown

The move towards flexible and hybrid work models signifies more than just a passing trend; it represents a significant transformation in our work culture. Which is why People Scientist Georgie Brown has delved into the topic to uncover insights that can help HR leaders thrive in these evolving times, and understand how hybrid working could work for their organisation and people. 

Hybrid working is the new norm

“Hive Customer Insights highlights the critical need for strategic adjustments in policies and infrastructure to ensure the longevity and success of hybrid working models. These adaptations are essential for providing robust support for remote or hybrid work arrangements and extracting valuable insights to inform business decisions and strategies.

In accordance with external predictions, organisations are increasingly acknowledging the need for a sustainable long-term hybrid work policy, recognising that flexibility is now a fundamental aspect of standard operating procedures rather than merely a perk for employees.

While the advantages of in-office work, reminiscent of pre-pandemic times, such as fostering camaraderie and enhancing collaboration, have led to a surge in employers instituting more in-office days, there remains lingering scepticism among their workforce regarding the actual benefits of this approach.”

What is research saying?

“Research is saying yes to hybrid working!

Research revealed that 68% of full-time workers prefer hybrid work schedules, yet despite these preferences 90% of companies plan to implement return-to-work policies by the end of 2024.

yes to hybrid working stats

And that’s not all. There’s plenty of research to suggest that hybrid could be the way forward for organisations.”

“Buffer found that 98% of respondents would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers, this is up slightly from 97% in 2022. Another 98% would recommend remote work to others, which is also an increase from 97% in 2022. Overall, 91% of respondents report are having a positive experience with remote work. Just 1% said their remote work experience was negative and the remaining 8% were neutral. 

According to respondents, 22% say the biggest benefit to remote work is flexibility in how they spend their time, for 19% it’s flexibility in where they choose to live, and for 13% it’s the flexibility to choose their work location. 

When it comes to feeling connected at work, 75% of remote workers feel connected to their colleagues, even though a majority work across time zones. 

Half of remote workers report feeling more energised (48%) than last year, compared to 21% who report feeling burnt out. Similarly, 58% report feeling engaged about the job compared to 30% who are unengaged.

The overwhelming preference for remote work, as indicated by Buffer’s data, highlights the importance for organisations to embrace flexible work policies. By investing in infrastructure, focusing on engagement, and continuously adapting to employee needs, organisations can create a positive remote work environment that enhances satisfaction, productivity, and overall success.”

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OwlJobs  found that 67% of managers think it likely that within the next year, their employer will be changing their policies surrounding remote and hybrid work, and this is despite 79% of managers stating that their teams are more productive when working remotely. 

This suggests that despite acknowledging remote work’s productivity benefits, a majority of managers anticipate policy changes regarding remote and hybrid work within the next year.

Owl jobs manager obseravtions

FlexJobs found that 56% of professionals know someone who has or plans to quit due to return-to-office mandates.

This implies that return-to-office mandates are causing significant dissatisfaction among professionals, leading to a notable number considering or planning to quit their jobs as a result.

Reactions to change in policy

Shifting work dynamics

“As the modern workplace continues to evolve, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the traditional 9-to-5 grind is no longer the norm. In fact, leading research firms like Gartner are predicting a seismic shift towards a new standard: the 4-day workweek. What once seemed radical is swiftly transitioning into routine, driven by a convergence of factors reshaping the employment landscape.

4 day working week

Gartner’s insights are particularly illuminating. With a talent shortage looming large, organisations are grappling with the challenge of attracting and retaining top-tier employees. It’s not merely about offering competitive salaries anymore; today’s workforce craves something more elusive yet profoundly impactful: flexibility. Gartner’s recent findings reveal that a staggering 65% of candidates rank a 4-day workweek as their top choice for a future of work offering.

But as some companies embrace the concept of flexible schedules, others are doubling down on the return to office (RTO) movement. According to ResumeBuilder‘s latest data, a whopping 9 in 10 companies with office space are projected to have resumed in-person operations by 2024. The motivations behind this trend are manifold, with business leaders citing improvements in revenue, company culture, and worker productivity as primary drivers.

Yet, amid these contrasting narratives of workplace evolution, one undeniable truth emerges: the remote work experience is not without its challenges. Buffer‘s research sheds light on the struggles faced by remote workers, from battling the pervasive sense of isolation to grappling with the incessant blur between work and personal life.”

Insights into remote work preferences

DemandSage‘s research highlights intriguing patterns in remote work preferences across generations and genders.

Surprisingly, it reveals that GenX and millennials exhibit a strong preference for remote work, while GenZ displays the least inclination towards it.

This nuanced insight underscores the diverse attitudes towards remote work among different age groups.

Despite women expressing a higher preference for remote work, the data reveals a stark gender disparity in remote working opportunities, with 61% of men being offered such opportunities compared to only 52% of women. This misalignment between preference and opportunity highlights a potential area for improvement in workplace equality and flexibility.

Owl Labs have also carried our research to show the preferences of remote work depending on gender with similar findings in that women have a stronger preference for remote work than men, with men preferring in-office work more than women.”

owl labs research of demographics and hybrid work

What are Hive customer insights telling us?

“When looking at insights from our customers, we found that those who worked remotely obtained higher engagement index and eNPS scores than those who worked hybrid and mainly off-site/location.

The majority of these scores landed within the positive score range for the engagement index (ranging from 7.1 to 8.2). For eNPS, scores mainly sat within the ‘typical’ score range with some landing in the ‘very good’ and ‘outstanding’ score categories.

These findings suggest that those who work remotely are more engaged at work and are more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work.

Those who did not work remotely or hybrid tended to obtain lower engagement index and eNPS scores, however in most cases scores sat within the moderate score range for the Engagement Index and the ‘typical’ score category for eNPS. Often scores were not far off those who worked remotely.

These findings suggest that those who do not work remotely or hybrid are generally engaged at work and are somewhat likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work, however this is less so than remote workers. 

Those who work hybrid had mixed results, with some scoring higher than non-remote/hybrid workers for the Engagement Index and eNPS and others’ scoring lower. Those who scored lower did so by a slight margin, as their scores remained within the moderate and typical score range. 

When examining data comparing remote and non-remote workers, it was found that employees consistently scored highest in terms of feeling respected and valued regardless of their background or culture and in fostering positive relationships with their team members, irrespective of their work setting. Additionally, when exploring lower-scoring items, both groups tended to score lower on aspects related to effective communication and collaboration among teams within their organisations. Yet, remote workers also exhibited a lower perception of confidence in taking action following surveys.”

Free-text analysis of Q4 customer feedback

“Within Q4 2023, employees widely appreciated the flexibility inherent in hybrid working arrangements, noting its positive impact on work-life balance, overall well-being, and their ability to sustain both. Additionally, they valued the trust their organisations placed in them regarding their work arrangements. However, concerns have arisen regarding potential overuse of remote work policies for certain individuals, with worries about its potential to fragment the workforce, especially as not all employees are always given the freedom to work flexibly. Consequently, employees are calling for better support and structure from managers to optimise performance and collaboration within hybrid work setups. They also advocate for more tailored arrangements that accommodate individual needs, recognising that while some prefer in-office work, others prioritise remote flexibility.”

What are the concerns?

“Among those who favour remote or hybrid work over traditional office settings, there were apprehensions regarding the inadequacies of office infrastructure, including subpar IT facilities and equipment such as laptops, computers, printers, and Wi-Fi. Concerns also extended to insufficient facilities such as limited desks and collaborative workspace, as well as unsatisfactory restroom and kitchen amenities. Additionally, travel concerns emerged, particularly due to increased travel expenses and limited parking availability.”

What can organisations do?

“Key takeaways for HR Leaders on hybrid working:

  1. Transformation in work culture: Hybrid working represents a significant shift in how we approach work. It’s not just a passing trend but a fundamental change that requires organisations to rethink their policies and infrastructure. This means acknowledging that remote and hybrid setups are here to stay and adapting accordingly.

  2. Employee preferences and benefits: Research shows that a majority of employees prefer hybrid work arrangements for the flexibility they offer. This flexibility leads to improved work-life balance, higher job satisfaction, and increased productivity. Recognising and leveraging these benefits is crucial for attracting and retaining talent in a competitive market.

  3. Addressing concerns and challenges: While hybrid working offers numerous advantages, it also presents unique challenges that require careful navigation. Concerns surrounding potential workforce fragmentation and the necessity for robust support structures underscore the importance of proactive management and continuous communication. HR leaders must address these concerns effectively to facilitate a smooth transition to hybrid working. Leveraging Employee Voice Platforms can be instrumental in gathering the feedback and insights necessary for ensuring a seamless transition.

  4. Implementing effective policies: HR leaders play a critical role in shaping hybrid work policies that meet the needs of both employees and the organisation. This involves creating clear guidelines, providing necessary resources and training, and establishing performance metrics to measure success. It’s about finding the right balance between flexibility and accountability.

  5. Leading by example: Leadership support is pivotal for the success of hybrid working initiatives. HR leaders should set the tone by actively embracing remote and hybrid work practices themselves and advocating for their adoption among managers and employees. Cultivating a culture of trust, flexibility, and collaboration begins with leadership. With Hive’s People Science we offer, modules like the “actioning change workshop” and “leadership alignment” can provide invaluable assistance in comprehending and securing buy-in at all organisational levels, fostering greater engagement among the workforce.

  6. Continuously monitor policy effectiveness:

    Evaluate the impact on employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall organisational performance, and make adjustments as needed. This can be done with surveys, and always-on listening, in-person town halls, suggestion boxes. Having a blend of in-person and digital channels can really boost response rates to allow those all important changes to be made. 

 

In summary, HR leaders need to proactively adapt to the changing landscape of work by implementing effective hybrid work policies, addressing concerns, and fostering a supportive culture. By doing so, they can position their organisations for success in the new era of work.”

And there we have it, as articulated by people scientist Georgie Brown and supported by extensive research, thriving in a hybrid work environment requires strategic policy adjustments and robust infrastructure. It’s heartening to hear from professionals across different domains about their experiences and preferences, shedding light on the complexities and nuances of this evolving work paradigm.

Further exploration and implementation of hybrid work policies, alongside continued support and feedback mechanisms, will be crucial for organisations navigating this transition effectively.

Georgina Brown people scientist

Did you find Georgie’s insights on hybrid working insightful? Discover more of her perspectives on various HR and people-related topics on her LinkedIn, designed to support and inspire HR leaders.

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