Although remote working has some obvious benefits, new research explains that it also has drawbacks for workers. According to the report, a hybrid work model, where people come into the office but not every day, may be the best path to take for workers’ productivity, career progression, and quality of life.
The findings are based on data from 9,000 employees in the US, part of whom transitioned to a work-from-home model during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the data, there are some advantages to working on-site that those who work from home simply miss out on. At the same time, there are undeniable benefits to working from home. These results were published by ADP Research, a US-based labour market analyst.
As such, the best way forward is likely a hybrid model that combines elements both from on-side and from-home working schemes, the team argues.
Best of both
“On the whole, employees working on-site enjoy crucial advantages over their remote counterparts. […] Given the upsides and downsides of on-site work, a ‘hybrid’ option – working part on-site and part remote – may actually provide workers with most advantageous characteristics of both on-site and remote working,” the report concludes.
Most of the benefits of on-site working schemes flow from an increased level of social interaction in the workplace, a clearer separation between work and home, and greater access to career opportunities, it adds. Workers who employ a hybrid system also report receiving more constructive feedback compared to all of their peers.
Working on-site among colleagues naturally leads to more interactions with them. Roughly 77% of workers in the office reported engaging in spontaneous conversations with coworkers, while only 60% of remote workers reported the same. In this last category, men were more likely to have unplanned chats with colleagues than women.
Despite the availability of resources helping us be more productive with our time, such as online tools to edit documents, connect with our teams, or shared calendars to help everybody sync up, remote workers tend to work longer hours than on-site workers. The demands of home life, including chores or caring for children, can easily disrupt our workflow. According to the report, those who work from home spend one hour longer, on average, to finish their daily tasks.
Previous research has shown that a system of one day per week working from home could boost employee productivity by 4.8%. A bit part of that estimation comes down to workers not having to commute, which helps them save on time. The current report builds on those findings, showing that 67% of hybrid workers also feel they’re more visible and getting better support from their managers under a hybrid model; only 49% of on-site workers felt the same way. Furthermore, 72% of hybrid workers report getting constructive feedback about their efforts and results, compared to only 57% of on-site workers.
While most managers expected to see a drop in productivity as the pandemic forced them to adopt a remote work scheme, experience in the field showed that this transition, or the transition to a hybrid work model, was actually pretty successful and didn’t lead to any drops in productivity. However, the report stresses how important it is to maintain a healthy work culture while going through these changes.
“Ensuring employee well-being is among the key measures undertaken by business leaders looking to effectively shift to remote work,” the authors write. “In particular, 34% of [business] leaders report that they are taking steps to create a sense of community among employees online and looking to tackle the well-being challenges posed by the shift to remote work.”
The report “On-site, Remote or Hybrid: Employee Sentiment on the Workplace” has been published on ADP Research’s page.