Hybrid work is a 'win-win-win' for companies, workers

June 16, 2024

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Hybrid work is a 'win-win-win' for companies, workers

It is one of the most hotly debated topics in today’s workplace: Is allowing employees to log in from home a few days a week good for their productivity, careers, and job satisfaction?

A team or researchers has uncovered compelling evidence that hybrid schedules are a boon to both employees and their bosses.

In a study, newly published in the journal Nature, of an experiment on more than 1,600 workers at — one of the world’s largest online travel agencies — they found that employees who work from home for two days a week are just as productive and as likely to be promoted as their fully office-based peers.

On a third key measure, employee turnover, the results were also encouraging. Resignations fell by 33 percent among workers who shifted from working full-time in the office to a hybrid schedule. Women, non-managers, and employees with long commutes were the least likely to quit their jobs when their treks to the office were cut to three days a week. estimates that reduced attrition saved the company millions of dollars.

What the researchers say: “The results are clear: Hybrid work is a win-win-win for employee productivity, performance, and retention,” the lead author said.

The findings are especially significant given that about 100 million workers worldwide now spend a mix of days at home and in the office each week, more than four years after COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns upended how and where people do their jobs. Many of these hybrid workers are lawyers, accountants, marketers, software engineers and other with a college degree or higher.

Over time, though, working outside the office has come under attack from high-profile business leaders like Elon Musk, the head of Tesla, SpaceX, and X (formerly Twitter), and Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, who argue that the costs of remote work outweigh any benefits. Opponents say that employee training and mentoring, innovation, and company culture suffer when workers are not on site five days a week.

The present study’s lead author explains that critics often confuse hybrid for fully remote, in part because most of the research into working from home has focused on workers who aren’t required to come into an office and on a specific type of job, like customer support or data entry. The results of these studies have been mixed, though they tend to skew negative. This suggests that problems with fully remote work arise when it’s not managed well.

As one of the few randomized control trials to analyze hybrid arrangements — where workers are offsite two or three days a week and are in the office the rest of the time — the findings offer important lessons for other multinationals, many of which share similarities with

“This study offers powerful evidence for why 80 percent of U.S. companies now offer some form of remote work,” the researchers noted.

In finding that hybrid work had zero effect on workers’ productivity or career advancement and dramatically boosted retention rates, the study authors highlight some important nuances. Resignations, for example, fell only among non-managers; managers were just as likely to quit whether they were hybrid or not.

The team identified misconceptions held by workers and their bosses. Workers, especially women, were reluctant to sign up as volunteers for’s hybrid trial — likely for fear that they would be judged negatively for not coming into the office five days a week. In addition, managers predicted on average that remote working would hurt productivity, only to change their minds by the time the experiment ended.

For business leaders, the researchers said, the study confirms that concerns that hybrid work does more harm than good are overblown.

“If managed right, letting employees work from home two or three days a week still gets you the level of mentoring, culture-building, and innovation that you want,” the lead author concluded. “From an economic policymaking standpoint, hybrid work is one of the few instances where there aren’t major trade-offs with clear winners and clear losers. There are almost only winners.”

So, what? From a human design-specs perspective hybrid working makes sense. We are designed to be members of smallish groups—those we hunted or, later, worked with, the congregation we worshipped with, the sports team we were a member of. In these we found relational support, encouragement, collaborative endeavor.

Over time with the industrial revolution the non-work groupings lost their power and our main socializing was done with those that we worked with, or for.

Hybrid working gives a chance for neighborhood gatherings at first ad hoc, and later more permanent—rather like the dog owners and their pets who gather in our local park latish every afternoon.

Hybrid working is a step to an AI-engendered non-work world. In that world we will “work” if we want to and not if we don’t—just like hunter-gatherers—and we will do a lot more in-person socializing, again, just like our distant ancestors. That’s totally in line with our design specs.

Dr Bob Murray

Bob Murray, MBA, PhD (Clinical Psychology), is an internationally recognised expert in strategy, leadership, influencing, human motivation and behavioural change.

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