Hybrid, remote, on-site? Employees have weighed in

A new report finds benefits and drawbacks of both in-office and remote work.
By: | August 18, 2021

As the Delta variant continues to drive uncertainty in the business world, employers face important decisions on when and how to address permanent workplace locations.

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To glean insights into what employees are thinking on the issue, ADP Research Institute’s “On-site, Remote or Hybrid: Employee Sentiment On The Workplace” surveyed more than 9,000 full-time U.S. workers, finding that most employees lean toward a hybrid model.

“Though there are perceived opportunities and challenges for both remote work and on-site work, the strongest findings reveal the answer lies somewhere in the middle, with a hybrid arrangement,” says Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP.

The report found that hybrid working may help ease the transition into a post-pandemic work environment. For example, hybrid workers report stronger connections with their teammates and colleagues (79%) compared to on-site workers (70%) and remote workers (64%). The connections are the strongest among parents of children under 18 who are working in a hybrid arrangement (83%).

Hybrid employees also have the most positive outlook on their managers compared to on-site and remote workers, with manager attention and perception of career opportunities reported the strongest among hybrid employees compared to on-site and remote workers (72% compared to 57% and 64%, respectively).

See also: Why post-COVID remote work may not be as rosy as you think

Additionally, while the study found that employees working on site enjoy crucial advantages over their remote counterparts, particularly in terms of social interaction, work boundaries and career opportunities, remote working offers its own set of advantages.

For instance, working on site could set employees up for job success, as 57% of (non-manager) employees think their managers prefer on-site employees over remote workers, a sentiment shared by 59% of managers. Returning to on-site work may also mean a more social work life: On-site workers say they spend less of their time on work-related communication and meetings (on average, accounting for 15% of the typical workday) than remote workers (25% of the typical workday). They also report a shorter workday—on average, one hour less—with a cleaner break between work and home.

However, employees working remotely report a stronger team dynamic and more opportunity for innovation; they were more likely to say their team is collaborative (62% compared to 47% of on-site workers) and supportive (66% versus 59% of on-site workers). They also were less likely than in-person workers to describe their team as gossipy or cliquish.

Related: 2 must-haves for a strong hybrid work plan from a Stanford expert

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Especially given these findings, Richardson says, employers should be focused on designing an individualized approach to post-pandemic work that fits employee preferences and organizational culture.

“While the pandemic quickly forced many changes in the world of work, employers now have an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned over the past year,” she says, “and utilize them to identify the right approach that will meet the specific needs of their business and their employees especially as they continue to navigate the ongoing impact of the pandemic.”

Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.

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