In today's competitive business landscape, corporations are constantly seeking ways to enhance employee engagement, boost…
While remote work is not a new concept, the number of remote employees has increased drastically in the last decade, in great part due to the pandemic. According to ApolloTech, there are currently more than 4.7 million remote employees in the United States. But as many organizations choose to bring employees back into the office at least a few days a week, a new arrangement is taking the lead as the most common work style: hybrid work.
What’s causing the switch to a Hybrid work style?
In 2023, Gallup reported that more than half (52%) of remote-capable jobs are choosing a hybrid work style (in the office at least one day each week). These numbers are almost double the on-site (20%) and exclusively remote (29%) employee populations. The pandemic forced organizations to confront an eye-opening truth: many jobs could be done, and done well, fully remote. However, issues soon arose with those fully remote folks, including lower engagement, a sense of disconnectedness, and even a greater sense of loneliness. Yet many employees still wouldn’t prefer to come back into the office full-time: over 61% reported they would strongly consider switching jobs to stay working remotely at least part-time.
The solution to this conundrum? A hybrid arrangement. For many Americans, the hybrid work style constitutes a “happy medium.” When Gallup surveyed employees working for remote-capable jobs, about 60% reported preferring a hybrid arrangement over an exclusively remote or on-site option.
There are several benefits to a hybrid work style. Approximately 35% of hybrid employees reported feeling connected to the mission of their organization, which is higher than their fully remote, on-site (remote capable), and on-site (non-remote-capable) counterparts. In terms of creating a connectedness to your organization, a hybrid work style is best.
While there are benefits to hybrid work, there are also multiple drawbacks. Almost 1/3 of employees reported decreased access to work resources and equipment as a top challenge to remote work and over a quarter reported feeling less connected to their organization’s culture. Other challenges include managing the demands of being both in the office and maintaining a home office, as well as decreased relationships & collaborative opportunities with their teammates.
If the hybrid work experience is now commonplace, what can we do to increase those benefits and mitigate some of the challenges it presents?
1. Have core office days or weeks
Employee engagement increased for employees who spent their in-office days in a collaborative workspace, connecting with their colleagues and working through issues together. To make the most of your team’s in-office days, coordinate a schedule that works for each employee so that teams can communicate and work together.
2. Aim for in-person meetings when possible
While the majority of employees have no strong preference between in-person meetings vs. virtual meetings, very few (18%) believe that virtual meetings are more effective. To make the most use of your in-office days and encourage collaboration, aim to schedule meetings in person when possible. This may also alleviate screen fatigue while fostering deeper team connections.
3. Encourage culture-creating opportunities when possible
One of the top challenges reported by the hybrid workforce is a lack of connectedness to the organization’s culture. Because hybrid employees are often off-site for multiple days of the week, it’s even more important to offer opportunities for connection to company culture when they are on-site. If possible, aim to schedule on-campus days around your company events, such as luncheons, presentations, or other culture-creators.
4. Show trust
Employees need to know that you trust them to get their work done and that they have the time and materials that are necessary. Autonomy is an active engagement driver for employees, empowering them to manage themselves efficiently, to feel confident in their abilities, and to perform at a higher degree.
5. Set aside “focus time” when needed to encourage independent work, together
Another commonly reported challenge of being on-site for remote workers is consistent disruption. Between coworkers stopping by for a chat, loud phone calls at the next cubicle over, and employees walking in and out, it can be difficult to get “in the zone” while in the office. Try using the first or last hours of the day as focus time – dedicated time to work quietly and independently as needed.
6. Recognize and praise good work
Showing appreciation, recognizing, and praising for good work are more important now than ever before. Recognition is an integral part of engaging all employees but is especially important for the remote workforce. The research shows overwhelmingly that employees aren’t feeling appreciated. Social recognition is a helpful tool to unite a remote workforce and ensure everyone is recognized for great work.
7. Provide feedback on work and ask for their opinions
One of the most valuable tasks a manager can provide their team is to show they’re listening and continually shaping an employee for the better. In fact, an Ultimate Software report showed that over half of employees surveyed said they’d turn down a 10% pay raise to stay with a manager they trust and respect. The Gallup study* shows that full-time remote workers are 29% less likely to agree that they have reviewed their greatest successes with their manager in the past six months.
To see how MTM Recognition’s social recognition platform helps connect the workforce for a hybrid client, check out our Adecco Group High Five Client Profile here! Have additional tips to share regarding a flexible schedule? Drop them in the comments below!