When you speak to friends, family, colleagues, or fellow employers about the upheaval caused by COVID in the realm of work-life balance, inevitably you’ll hear both delight and lament.
For some, the switch to remote or hybrid work has directly translated to improved quality of life; an increased sense of trust and autonomy among teams; and low-key celebration over the demise of long commutes and obligatory “How’s Jimmy?” banter. For others, the loss of in-person collaboration and camaraderie has been acutely felt: organic, dynamic environments replaced by scheduled zoom calls that would make even a time-space-suspended Bill Murray uneasy.
Acknowledging this wide spectrum of attitudes is step one in formulating a workplace solution that meshes with your organization and all of your employees. By inviting “qualitative data” (read: honest feedback) from your employees, you stand to accurately assess your staff’s experience of the “new normal” workplace, empowering you to make measured, thoughtful decisions about how to structure or restructure your workplace moving forward.
Still, even with this information in hand, most employers are concerned rightly about “the bottom line”/ “the numbers”: how remote, hybrid, or flexible workplaces fare in terms of productivity, efficiency, efficacy, and the reported wellness of employees more broadly within a given industry.
Below, we’ve crystallized the best and most recent data to help you gauge the concrete efficacy and desirability of remote, hybrid, and flexible workplaces.
Recent data drawn from studies conducted by Prodoscore, Owl Labs, and Ergotron (a hybrid-work-friendly furniture company, not a decommissioned Transformer) reveals the clear viability of remote and hybrid work from a productivity standpoint, as well as its positive impact on the wellness of employees.
In Ergotron’s remote work study, a sample of 1000 employees reported improvements of 75 to 88% across three major domains: job satisfaction, physical health and work-life balance. And, if you’re politely glad to hear about employee satisfaction but dubious about productivity “metrics,” rest easy. Prodoscore’s even more comprehensive study on productivity, using 105 million data points collected from 30,000 U.S.-based Prodoscore users, confirmed a 5% increase in productivity in a remote work configuration, using a four-month pre-pandemic work period as the basis for comparison.
Intriguingly, Prodoscore’s research has also yielded some interesting data regarding shifts in optimal work times, discovering that most employees sampled are likely exercising improved time management while working shorter remote hours overall (read: starting later, ending earlier) – with 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. representing peak productivity periods in most remote workplaces.
While business owners surveyed early in the pandemic almost uniformly (78%) anticipated negative effects on productivity as a result of the transition to remote or hybrid work, that perspective has radically changed in the intervening years. One of the largest longitudinal studies on remote work productivity conducted by Great Place to Work found a 3-13% increase in productivity among 715 companies representing over 3 million U.S. employees over a six-month period. We liken the issue-settling impact of this study to the following dunk by J.R. Smith; in this case, Aron Baynes represents remote and hybrid work naysayers. Sorry, Aron.
Ensuring Wellness and Adaptive Leadership
One common strategy employed by companies surveyed across this study is an emphasis on sustaining orimproving company culture, adapting leadership styles and (no small detail) instituting some type of wellness program.
Although wellness programs can vary considerably based on the scale or needs of your organization, there are some basic steps you can follow to begin brainstorming. Glassdoor’s “10 Easy Wellness Program Ideas for Remote Workers” is a great place to start. As for adapting company culture and leadership to fit a remote or hybrid workplace, we recommend that you begin by candidly surveying your employees or staff to compile direct feedback regarding their experience of working remotely or in a hybrid capacity – articulating the benefits, the frustrations, and everything in between. By accurately reading the barometer within your own organization, you stand to implement fresh and innovative leadership techniques that accommodate the needs of your employees and benefit your business in the process. This is your chance to move forward confidently with the peace of mind that remote and hybrid work is, in fact, a viable, productive, and widely desirable change for your employees and organization.