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Organizational psychologist explains why ‘hybrid is the future’ of the workplace

Hybrid work models became increasingly popular as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced millions of employees to work remotely for public health concerns.

As offices began reopening when cases declined and vaccines became available, many companies adopted a “hybrid” model, in which employees come into the office part-time.

“I don't think we should eliminate offices altogether,” Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the Wharton Business School and author of “Think Again,” told Yahoo Finance at Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Small Businesses 2022 Summit (video above). “But I think that the evidence is really clear that as long as people show up half the week, they can work from anywhere the other half, and they're more productive, more satisfied, more likely to stay there, no known cost to collaboration or relationships. I don't know why we're so eager to have everybody on site all the time.”

A woman works on her laptop computer at a coffee shop in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina on April 24, 2019.  (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)
A woman works on her laptop computer at a coffee shop in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina on April 24, 2019. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

A February 2022 Gallup study of more than 140,000 U.S. workers found that 42% of remote-capable employees had a hybrid schedule, while 39% worked from home entirely. Among those remote-capable employees, 60% prefer hybrid work.

“I think it's something we need to rethink,” Grant said. “Hybrid is the future. I think hybrid is the precedent. There are a lot of companies that committed to returning to office, and then doubled back and said, ‘Wait a minute, this is not working for us. Let’s agree on a two0 or three-day plan.”

'If you do not care about people's quality of life, you don't get quality work'

Data indicates that providing employees with such flexibility pays off — according to Owl Labs's State of Remote Work 2021 report. Eighty-three percent of workers indicated they were at the same productivity level, or higher, working from home than working in the office, while 55% stated they were working more hours by being remote

Several big companies have chosen to use a hybrid work plan for their employees, including big names like 3M (MMM), Coinbase (COIN), Lyft (LYFT), Spotify (SPOT), and Twitter (TWTR).

Grant noted that companies need strong leadership that is receptive to any employees concerns, such as desires to shift toward remote or hybrid work or concerns about toxic behavior in the workplace.

A hybrid work model can provide significant benefits to employees, according to Owl Labs. (Chart: Owl Labs)
A hybrid work model can provide significant benefits to employees, according to Owl Labs. (Chart: Owl Labs)

“I think one of the few silver linings of the pandemic is that more people at a leadership and management level are starting to recognize that if you do not care about people's quality of life, you don't get quality work,” he said.

Nearly 3 in 4 workers said working from home even after the pandemic is better for their mental health, the Owl Labs report notes.

“What I've found is much more effective is to actually go the extra step and talk about the problems that you see,” Grant said. “So if I say ‘here are maybe some cultural shortcomings that I think we might want to work on, what do you think of these?’ I'm not just claiming that I'm open to feedback. I'm actually proving that I can take it.”

Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells and reach her at adriana@yahoofinance.com.

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