Harvard Research Reveals ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Hybrid Work Model: 1-2 Days In Office Will Make Employees Happy!

Harvard Research Reveals 'Sweet Spot' Of Hybrid Work Model: 1-2 Days In Office Will Make Employees Happy!
Harvard Research Reveals ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Hybrid Work Model: 1-2 Days In Office Will Make Employees Happy!

A paper from Harvard Business School has found that only one or two days in the office creates the ideal setup for hybrid work.

This gives workers the flexibility they want without the isolation that comes with fully remote work.


The Experiment

The School conducted an experiment in 2020 and randomly assigned 130 administrative workers to one of three groups over nine weeks.

Some spent less than 25% of their work days in the office while others attended offices more than 40% of the time.

A third “intermediate” cohort was formed which spent a day or two per week at the office.

This group produced more original work than the other groups, and “this difference was significant”.


They also performed better, and got better ratings from managers compared to those who were mainly at home or at the office.

They also showed “greater satisfaction,” and “less isolation”.

The researchers deduced that intermediate hybrid work is the “sweet spot” since it grants workers flexibility and face to face interactions with colleagues.

The study is unique since it examines hybrid worker outcomes rather than their preferences.

Stubborn Stance

It comes at a time when big corporates such as Apple Inc, Bank of America Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google are calling their people back to offices.

The problem is that they lack an understanding of the ideal balance between remote and in-person schedules.

A Stanford University research says that employers expect nearly a quarter of working days to be spent at home.

However, there is a “sizable gap” between what employers and employees want with respect to the days required to be in the office. 

Negative Attitudes And Biases

The discrepancy can be attributed to prevailing attitudes of employers who don’t trust their employees’ ability to work remotely.

Senior executives involved in a survey also said that primarily remote workers are disadvantaged and have fewer opportunities compared with those who work mostly in the office.

So their push to return to offices is no surprise, given such biased views.

Risk Losing Talent Due To Inflexibility

One of the Harvard researchers Prithwiraj Choudhury opines that companies that take a hardline stance on return to office risk losing some of their best employees.

He said that these employees will have options and can be snapped up by competitors.

Ultimately, it is just bad for productivity, diversity and talent retention.

The Takeaways

The need of the hour seems to be organizing things so that teams are in the office together on the same days and avoiding having workers come in only to spend their day on video calls with remote colleagues.

Employers also need to ensure that when people are in the office, it should be meaningful time.

Nick Bloom who co-authored the Stanford paper sums it up- “Well-organized hybrid does seem to be the sweet spot.”

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