Is Hybrid Work the Best of Both Worlds? Evidence From a Field Experiment | Harvard Business School

Workforce Trends

While much research has focused on workers’ preferences for flexibility and hybrid work, there has been limited research on the impact of hybrid work on worker outcomes, such as performance. This new 86-page research by Harvard Business School explores the optimal mix of hybrid workdays (days in office vs. home) and its impact on intra-firm communication or novelty of work output. Workers (n=130) were categorized into three groups based on how many days they were randomly assigned to work from the office over a nine-week period: 1) High WFH (0-8 days in the office, corresponding to 0-23% of workdays in the office), 2) intermediate WFH (9-14 days in the office, 23-40%) and 3) low WFH (15+ days in the office, greater than 40%). The intermediate group (translating to a day or two per week) turned out more original work than the other groups, and “this difference was significant,” according to the authors. Overall, findings show that output and creativity “thrive” in a hybrid work environment with just one or two days in the office being the ideal setup for hybrid work. While the research is not without limitations (e.g., sample size, limited outcome measures, etc.), it provides research-based insights from which firms can draw as they make decisions about hybrid work. In case you missed it earlier this week, check out Microsoft’s New Future of Work 2022 Report—a newly released 111-page report that provides one of the most comprehensive reviews of hybrid work from researchers at Microsoft and around the globe.

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