Hybrid Should Be Here to Stay

Three reasons why being with others in the workplace—at least part of the time—is critical.

As work and life face new realities, much has been written about the best model for productivity, satisfaction, and growth. In a past “Leading Edge” column, I concluded that hybrid was likely the model of the future.

Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom concurs, noting that “hybrid work is here to stay.” In fact, based on hundreds of discussions with managers across a variety of industry types and sizes, Bloom, Jose Barrero, and Steve Davis revealed that 70 percent of firms plan to implement a hybrid model.

The benefits of working in the office tend to be better collaboration and “collisions” that help maintain the culture and mentorship. While the benefits of working from home include flexibility and less commute time, a hybrid model seems to integrate the best of both options. And attrition rates are lower where hybrid is the norm.

Benefits of Being Together

Mark C. Crowley wrote recently in Fast Company Daily, “Without working some days each week in the office—when everyone else is there, too—the harm to all of us is far greater than we might ever imagine.” Crowley identifies three main reasons why being with others—at least part of the time—is critical:

1. Face-to-face meetings, in-person collaboration, and “micro-moments” of community at work are essential for employees to feel a sense of belonging and of being part of a team, notes U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in his book, “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World.”

2. Offices are where people make personal and professional connections. Crowley cites Jon Levy, author of “You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence,” who wrote, “The greatest punishment we give people in society is either solitary confinement or banishment from the group… Without connection to others, we suffer psychologically and emotionally.”

3. Loneliness was an epidemic before the pandemic and it is only worse with full-time working from home. Evidence by Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad indicates “the most important predictor of living a long life is social integration—meaning how many people we connect with every day.”

Making these workplace decisions should be done in a dialogue. It will take time to weave organizations back together again so everyone feels a sense of agency over their work/life integration.

Jann E. Freed
Jann E. Freed, PhD, is an author, speaker, coach, and leadership development consultant. Her forthcoming book is “Breadcrumb Legacy: How Great Leaders Live a Life Worth Remembering” (Routledge Publishing, 2023). For more information, visit http://www.JannFreed.com