Harvard study highlights ideal hybrid set-up

A Harvard study shows  working one or two days in the office per week is the best set-up for hybrid working.

woman working at home

OVERHEAD Caucasian female working from home, having a video call with colleagues. Stay home, quarantine remote work

Just one or two days in the office is the ideal set-up for hybrid work, according to a new study from Harvard Business School.

The study is based on an experiment in 2020 where 130 administrative workers were randomly assigned to one of three groups over nine weeks.

The paper says: “Intermediate [i.e., a day or two per week] hybrid work is plausibly the sweet spot, where workers enjoy flexibility and yet are not as isolated compared to peers who are predominantly working from home . . .  Intermediate hybrid might offer the best of both worlds.”

The researchers also analysed  data from the start of the pandemic and concluded that employees who come into the office just a few days a week don’t feel they’re missing out on opportunities such as mentorship as fully-remote workers sometimes say they do.

“Work from home arrangements allow workers to capture the benefits of a productive and enjoyable workplace almost as much as those workers who are always in the office,” the paper said. “Our results consistently suggest that intermediate levels of WFH [working from home] may result in both enhanced novelty of work products and greater work-related communication.”

One barrier, however, is senior management attitudes to different ways of work. A survey of business leaders suggests many still lack trust in remote staff. The survey of 200 senior executives, commissioned by Vyopta, which helps companies manage their workplace collaboration and communication systems, also said that primarily remote workers are disadvantaged and have fewer opportunities compared with those who work mostly in the office.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the pandemic has increased the phenomenon of “super-commuting” – defined as a commute that takes 90 minutes or longer one-way – as more people shift to an employment model that combines remote work and occasional visits to the office.

The BBC says workers doing these kinds of long-haul commutes in the past were often very senior or wealthy knowledge workers in sectors such as technology. But now, super-commuting has become far more normalised in the remote work era, even in sectors where it was rare pre-pandemic.

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