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The impact of a hybrid culture

A mix of benefits and challenges

Gallup recently wrote an article—Does Your Hybrid Culture Really Work for Everyone?—that I found interesting and wanted to share with you. (I encourage you to also look at their specific research on Hybrid work.)

While I will let the article do most of the illuminating, here are some highlights that grabbed my attention, with my commentary.

From an employer’s standpoint, offering some degree of remote work flexibility has translated to better employee retention, larger talent pools and reduced office costs. Even more importantly, hybrid and remote employees are more engaged than on-site workers, directly benefiting organizational performance (e.g., productivity, profitability, safety and customer service). These workers also experience less burnout.

Hybrid workers have been consistently more engaged than on-site workers since 2019, which might be due to experiencing the best of both worlds — the ability to focus and do deep thinking at home without interruption paired with the ability to collaborate when on-site and get the boost that comes from proximity to coworkers.

Hybrid and remote working situations were happening long before COVID, and I appreciate Gallup’s long-term data about its impact. In particular, engagement rates are higher for hybrid and remote workers, and organizations are reaping the benefits.

The data couldn’t be more clear: The majority of remote-capable employees are hybrid now and want to stay that way.

Beware: slow creeps back to 5 days a week in the office, especially if “mandated” may alienate your best workers. In fact, I recently heard a story that is important to share.

For a year, a firm has had a 2-days/week in the office guideline—suggested but not required. A high performing employee voluntarily (and happily) came into the office for 3 days during most weeks. The firm recently changed their policy to 3-days a week and positioned it as a new “policy” or mandate—no longer simply a guideline. The employee was irate, though she was already coming into the office 3 days, typically.

What’s that about? Well, it’s no longer her choice. She has lost autonomy and the notion of flexibility for the rare times she needed it. I guarantee you that her engagement overall will decrease as a result.

The top challenges for hybrid workers include less access to resources and equipment (like a quiet office and stable internet connection), decreased collaboration with their team, reduced cross-functional communication and feeling less connected to their organization’s culture.

A casualty of not being on-site that employees typically overlook is their own professional development. Employee development has long been hard for organizations to get right, and it’s now even more difficult to deliver when people work from home. 

These challenges aren’t surprising and echo what I hear from my clients. Also notice…Gallup doesn’t say they aren’t manageable. With intention and creativity, you could ameliorate these issues.

Hybrid workers feel much more strongly about the benefits of hybrid than they do the risks. Between 17% and 31% of hybrid workers name these top challenges when asked, but twice as many cite the top benefits. 

So, if your organization is considering moving from a hybrid work situation to a full-time office culture, be sure to demonstrate the evidence for WHY you’re making the shift and HOW it will produce better benefits for the individual, not the business, over a hybrid setup.

There is a ton more great information in this article. If you like receiving this kind of curated research, click here and “Count me in!” to receive more of it. I’ve got a list of folks with whom I share this info regularly, and I would be happy to include you.

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