Study Shows Why Hybrid Work Will Triumph Over the Return to Office
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In a recent survey conducted by IWG, findings reveal the significance of hybrid work in employee retention and recruitment. The survey assessed the views and preferences of 1,015 full-time hybrid workers in the U.S. in February 2023. As a global future of work expert who helped 22 companies transition to hybrid and remote work, their data aligns with internal survey results I saw inside my clients. That’s why the return to a traditional office schedule of M-F 9-5 will not be successful, and non-frontline employees will be largely hybrid in the medium and long term.
The Value of Hybrid Work: Willing to Sacrifice Salary
The survey found that 67% of respondents would be willing to give up some amount of salary to maintain their hybrid work arrangement, with an average amount of $13,000. This underscores the importance of hybrid work to employees, and employers should take note. Interestingly, 24% of those making more than $150,000 per year would give up over $40,000 per year to secure the flexibility of hybrid work.
The survey also highlighted generational differences in the value placed on hybrid work. For example, 22% of Millennials and Gen Z respondents would be willing to give up 31-40% of their salary for hybrid work, while no Boomers or Gen X respondents would consider such a sacrifice. On the other hand, 25% of Boomers and 21% of Gen X would give up 1-10% of their salary for a hybrid work arrangement.
Hybrid Work as a Key Job Benefit and Hiring Tool
Hybrid work is not only a valuable job benefit, but it is also a critical factor in attracting and retaining top talent. As many as 45% of respondents said they would consider changing jobs if they were asked to return to the office full-time, and 61% said they would only consider hybrid roles if they were to look for a new job. The increasing demand for hybrid work opportunities highlights the need for employers to adapt their policies to remain competitive in the job market.
Another interesting finding from the survey is that employees value having access to workspaces closer to home. 60% of respondents said they would like their employer to offer a workspace within 15 minutes of their homes, while 49% preferred a workspace within 45 minutes of their homes. This highlights the importance of accessibility and convenience in the hybrid work model.
Training in Hybrid Work is Key
The survey also revealed that 64% of respondents believe there should be more training on working in the hybrid model. As hybrid work becomes more prevalent, it's crucial for organizations to invest in training and support to help employees navigate the challenges and opportunities of this new work model.
But even with very few companies so far making the wise decision to invest in hybrid work training, both managers and employees see the benefits of hybrid work when it comes to productivity. A significant 65% of managers believe their employees are very productive in a hybrid work arrangement, and 60% of employees think their managers view them as highly productive in this setup. Furthermore, 72% of respondents said they feel better able to carry out their jobs since adopting hybrid work.
The survey also uncovered insights about how managers have adapted their approach to managing hybrid teams. A majority (70%) of C-Level respondents have changed their management approach in a hybrid model, with more regular communication via email, phone, or text, and 48% having more 1:1 in-person check-ins to discuss career path, job satisfaction, and bandwidth. Only 15% of managers reported that their management approach has stayed the same as it was before the pandemic.
The Magic Number: Three Work Friends for Job Satisfaction
The social aspect of work cannot be overlooked. Nearly half (46%) of hybrid workers believe that friendships play a key factor in choosing to stay at a company. The majority (63%) of hybrid workers surveyed reported that office friendships increase job satisfaction and 46% reported that close friends keep them at their jobs. This finding emphasizes the importance of fostering connections and camaraderie in a hybrid work environment.
The desire for social activities and in-person interaction with coworkers is a significant driver for employees to spend time in the office. More than half (53%) of respondents cited social activities and seeing coworkers as the main reasons for their office visits, ahead of learning and development opportunities (43%), office amenities (40%), and impressing managers/bosses (24%). This highlights the need for organizations to create opportunities for employees to connect and collaborate, even as they adopt hybrid work models.
Cognitive Biases Blocking Hybrid Work Adoption
Despite the clear advantages of hybrid work, some organizations have been slow to adopt this model, often due to cognitive biases that influence decision-making. Two common cognitive biases that hinder the adoption of hybrid work are the status quo bias and the confirmation bias.
The status quo bias refers to the human tendency to prefer the current state of affairs and resist change. This bias can lead to a reluctance to explore new options, such as adopting a hybrid work model, even if it has the potential to bring significant benefits to the organization. Managers and executives may feel more comfortable sticking to traditional in-office work arrangements, perceiving them as less risky or disruptive.
To overcome the status quo bias, it is essential for decision-makers to recognize the potential benefits of hybrid work and make a conscious effort to weigh the pros and cons objectively. This may involve seeking input from employees, conducting pilot programs to test the effectiveness of hybrid work, and researching successful hybrid work models implemented by other organizations.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to favor information that supports one's pre-existing beliefs and ignore or discount evidence that contradicts those beliefs. In the context of hybrid work, confirmation bias may lead managers or executives to focus on the challenges or drawbacks associated with hybrid work while dismissing the numerous benefits.
For instance, they may concentrate on potential communication issues or the perceived loss of control over employee productivity, while overlooking the improvements in employee satisfaction, retention, and recruitment that hybrid work can bring. This selective focus on negative aspects can hinder the adoption of a more flexible and beneficial work model.
To counteract confirmation bias, decision-makers need to actively seek out and consider diverse perspectives on hybrid work, including the positive aspects and successes experienced by other organizations. By engaging in open-minded discussions and considering a broader range of information, companies can make more informed decisions about whether to embrace hybrid work as part of their long-term strategy.
Conclusion: Embracing Hybrid Work for Retention and Recruitment
The IWG survey results reveal the undeniable value of hybrid work in employee retention and recruitment. By understanding the importance of flexibility, proximity, social connections, and productivity, organizations can tailor their hybrid work policies to meet the needs of employees and remain competitive in the job market. Adopting a well-designed hybrid work model can boost job satisfaction, foster teamwork, and ultimately lead to a more engaged and productive workforce.
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Lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.
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