Blogs Intentional Insights The Importance of Returning to the Office to Ensure Hybrid Work ProductivityMay 20, 2023
The Importance of Returning to the Office to Ensure Hybrid Work Productivity
tags: wise decision making,leadership development,wise decision maker,return to office,hybrid work,decision making process,decision-making,Hybrid teamwork,working remote from home,Hybrid Work Productivity
As Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup, said of hybrid workers during a panel hosted by Bloomberg News during the World Economic Forum in Davos, “we do measure productivity very carefully.” By measuring productivity, companies can identify which employees are struggling with remote work and provide them with the coaching and support they need to be more productive. This might include returning to the office, as Fraser has done with some of her employees at Citi, in order to provide them with a more structured and collaborative environment.
As companies continue to adapt to the new reality of hybrid work, many are beginning to realize the importance of hybrid work productivity. The shift to remote work has brought many benefits, such as increased flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere. However, it has also brought many challenges, including doubts around productivity and engagement among employees.
Indeed, research by Microsoft reveals a major tension between employees and leaders. 85% of leaders have doubts about the productivity of employees when the latter work remotely, while 87% of surveyed workers say they are productive at work. Microsoft researchers identified these worries by leaders as “productivity paranoia,” excessive anxiety and fear over workers not being productive when bosses can’t see them.
However, supervisors do have valid concerns about how to ensure hybrid workers are productive. As an experienced consultant in implementing hybrid work, I talk to dozens of leaders every month about how to ensure hybrid work productivity. And one of the important elements of hybrid work productivity is being able to measure productivity and get underperforming workers to come to the office, as Jane Fraser’s statements highlight.
One of the biggest challenges of remote work is the lack of face-to-face interaction. This can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection among employees, which in turn can negatively impact their productivity and engagement.
A mid-size IT services company that went fully remote during the pandemic, for example, found that their employees were struggling with feelings of isolation and were less productive as a result. The company decided to implement a hybrid work model, which allowed employees to come into the office one day a week. This helped to improve employee engagement and productivity, as employees were able to interact with their colleagues and work in a more collaborative environment.
Another challenge of remote work is the lack of structure and boundaries. When working from home, it can be difficult to separate work from personal life. This can lead to employees working longer hours, which can negatively impact their productivity and well-being.
A large financial services company found that their employees were working longer hours and felt increasingly burned out, which was impacting productivity. The company decided to implement a hybrid work model, with employees coming into the office one to two days a week. This helped to improve employee productivity, as employees were able to establish more clear boundaries between work and personal life.
Furthermore, returning to the office can also improve employee morale and motivation. In-person interactions can boost employee engagement and sense of belonging, leading to higher employee satisfaction and retention. Additionally, returning to the office can also improve company culture and communication, which is important for teams to work effectively together.
Another important aspect of returning to the office is the provision of necessary resources and facilities that may not be available at home. For example, access to technology and equipment, meeting rooms and collaboration spaces, and training and development opportunities. These resources can be crucial to the overall productivity and performance of employees.
The lack of structure and boundaries can also lead to cognitive biases, such as the sunk cost fallacy. Sunk cost fallacy is a cognitive bias in which people continue to invest in a decision or action, based on the fact that they have already invested time or resources in it, despite evidence that it is not working. This can lead to employees continuing to work in a remote setting, even though it is not working well for them, because they have already invested time and resources into it. By returning to the office, employees are able to establish more clear boundaries and structure, which can help to mitigate the effects of cognitive biases.
Another cognitive bias that can impact hybrid work productivity is the availability heuristic. This is a cognitive bias that leads people to overestimate the probability of an event occurring because it is more easily available or salient in their minds. In this case, it can lead employees to believe that remote work is more productive, even if it is not. By returning to the office, employees are able to gain a more accurate understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of remote work and make more informed decisions about how to work most effectively.
In conclusion, hybrid work productivity is vital for the success of any company. The shift to remote work has brought many benefits, but it has also brought many challenges. By returning to the office for one to two days a week, employees are able to improve their productivity and engagement, as well as establish more clear boundaries and structure.
Hybrid work models have been shown to be effective for companies of all sizes and industries, and can help to mitigate the effects of cognitive biases such as the sunk cost fallacy and availability heuristic. As leaders of companies, it is important to consider the importance of hybrid work productivity and to implement a hybrid work model that works best for your organization.
Of course, as Jane Fraser highlights, the key is to measure productivity and get those who are underperforming when working remotely to come to the office as a way of providing them with coaching and support. Those who are productive when working remotely should be allowed and supported in working full-time remotely.
Returning to the office improves hybrid work productivity through enhanced collaboration, boundaries, resources, and mitigating cognitive biases... >Click to tweet
Image credit: Vlada Karpovich/Pexels
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. He is the best-selling author of 7 books, including the global best-sellers Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships. His newest book is Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage. 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, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist at UNC-Chapel Hill and Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio.
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