Senior Research Director Anthony DiRomualdo provides an overview of results from The Hackett Group’s Hybrid Work study, which looks at the variety of approaches companies are taking and their impact in areas such as productivity, collaboration, corporate culture, and employee retention.
Welcome to The Hackett Group’s “Business Excelleration Podcast,” where week after week we hear from experts on how to avoid obstacles, manage detours and celebrate milestones on the journey to world-class performance. This episode is hosted by Gary Baker, Group Global Communications director at The Hackett Group. His guest is Tony DiRomualdo, senior director at The Hackett Group.
The pandemic has dramatically transformed the landscape of hybrid work – a situation which is still constantly changing. It appears that companies are finally enforcing a widespread return to the office. Conducted in late June, The Hackett Group’s poll of over 500 business services professionals shows that 61% of respondents are spending more time in an employer office facility. With this, we are seeing lots of friction between top leaders and rank-and-file employees, with human resources (HR) in the middle. Employees seem to want about 60% of their work to be remote rather than in the office.
The main concern of employers is that the ability for their employees to collaborate and innovate suffers when they are working remotely. There is also concern about the decreased connection to colleagues and company culture employees experience in a remote environment. The largest concern, however, is the high turnover levels across the board.
Then, Tony highlights the two biggest hybrid work policies companies are implementing. At 23% of the respondent base, the most common arrangements were those negotiated between workers and their managers. Behind that was the mandated policy by workforce segment or job category utilized by 22%. Only 8% of respondents said that their employers allowed them to choose the working arrangement that fits them best. This shows that this is still a new territory for most leaders.
Many respondents indicated no change at all in their ability to collaborate with colleagues regardless of the policy they were working under. In fact, a significant amount indicated a greatly increased ability to collaborate. These findings suggest that HR and business leaders need to dig a bit deeper in terms of understanding the factors that drive employee collaboration. Increasing in-person time alone is not really going to move the needle much.
Most reports indicate that many people working remotely since the beginning of the pandemic have been able to keep their productivity levels about the same as it was in the office. Hackett’s report indicates that workers are now spending more time commuting, but the number of hours worked and outputs produced on a daily basis haven’t changed. Respondents with the most flexibility of working arrangements and the least time spent commuting have experienced the greatest increases in productivity. They found that the mandated hybrid work policies were the most likely to lead to more time commuting and in office. Generally speaking, productivity is holding up, but people now have less free time if they’re commuting daily.
A small but significant portion of employees are more likely to leave the organization if they’re spending significantly more time in the office. The respondents with the most flexibility in terms of their working arrangements were the biggest cohort to indicate greater engagement in their jobs and desire to remain working for their employers. Increased commuting time was correlated to greater risk of turnover and lower engagement. These findings suggest that leaders should anticipate a strong reaction to the remote work hybrid policies, and monitor the effects of engagement and retention.
As the episode wraps up, Tony recommends three key actions for employers to take based on the findings of the study. First, embrace flexibility and implement policies that give workers and teams more discretion around setting the right working arrangements for them. Second, collect data and closely monitor how your policies are working among your team. Finally, be quick and willing to adjust policies based on data and feedback. In doing this, you can accelerate the positive impacts and mitigate the negative factors.
- 00:45 – Welcome to this episode hosted by Gary Baker.
- 01:14 – The status of return-to-the-office initiatives.
- 03:00 – Why do employers want people back in the office?
- 04:41 – The biggest policies being implemented across the board.
- 06:42 – The impact of these various policies.
- 09:07 – Remote employee productivity.
- 11:45 – Are employees who spend more time in the office more engaged?
- 13:25 – Key actions for employers to take based on this information.