Work from home (WFH) and hybrid work environments are sticking, and they’re likely to do so long after the pandemic ends. In Nick Bloom’s 2022 study, Key Decisions About the Future of Work from Home, he found that “in March 2020, [WFH days] increased 12-fold—equal to 50 years of pre-pandemic growth.”
Nicholas Bloom is an economics professor at Stanford University, expert on all things work from home (WFH), and co-founder of wfhresearch.com. Below are some of Bloom’s key findings and information on the logistics behind deciding when employees go to the office in a hybrid position.
How Popular Are Hybrid Work Environments?
In his research findings, Bloom determined that the majority of respondents preferred hybrid workplaces, with 45.3% of respondents preferring to go into the office at some point during the week (between one to four days), as opposed to 22.7% wishing to go to the office “rarely or never,” and 32% preferring to go every day (Bloom, 2022).
Three of the primary benefits of working in-office include “face-to-face collaboration,” “socializing,” and “work/personal life boundaries,” according to a February 2022 survey, but for many, this doesn’t detract from the WFH appeal. How can people get the best of both worlds?
Who Chooses In-Office Days?
This is where the hybrid setup becomes challenging. In a survey conducted to determine if employees prefer choosing their own WFH schedule or prefer being coordinated with their colleagues, the responses were mixed.
69.9% of respondents wanted to “choose their own WFH days,” whereas 75.6% wanted to “coordinate with workers on worksite days,” (Bloom, 2022). Of course, people can’t have a full choice regarding their WFH days and be coordinated with their colleagues’ in-office days, so what’s to be done?
“The problem with choice,” Bloom said, is “noisy, low-energy offices.” For example, having teleconference meetings with half of the team at the office and half of the team on Zoom can be disorganized and distracting for everyone involved.
To solve this issue, Bloom suggests a more structured hybrid workspace in which the company declares “Monday and Friday (the most popular days)” as WFH days, leaving Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as in-office days for all employees.
The pandemic has brought about many transformations in our daily lives and in the workplace, and navigating them isn’t easy. Open lines of communication and regular employee surveys can help organizations figure out what works best for them when creating a hybrid work environment.
One thing is for sure: meetings, including through video conferencing, and in hybrid formats (video + in-person) will remain a core of getting work done. The meeting workspace tool Docket can help make this critical virtual and in-person aspect of work more effective and efficient as your organization tests out different hybrid set-ups. To read more about Nick Bloom’s research, check out his study presentation linked below.
Bloom, Nick. Key Decisions about the Future of Working from Home. Mar. 2022, https://nbloom.people.stanford.edu/sites/g/files/sbiybj4746/f/april2022v1.pdf.