If you are used to your team and heavily rely on your teammates, the thought of them resigning is stressful. It is also statistically likely, given the Great Resignation trend. At the moment, 44% of employees are job-seekers as well, willing to take a better opportunity as soon as it comes along.
In a market where changing jobs a few times a year is the new normal, managers have to be extra careful about employee retention if they want teams to last.
Among other strategies that help improve engagement and boost job satisfaction, there’s an effective and obvious fix – introducing hybrid work.
Let’s dive deeper into how hybrid and remote work improves talent retention and what practices managers should rely on to build successful hybrid teams.
- 5 reasons why hybrid and remote work helps boost employee retention
- 1. If your organization doesn’t offer it, people will choose one that does
- 2. Hybrid work reduces the amount of micromanagement while keeping teams connected
- 3. Hybrid environment fosters work-life balance
- 4. Hybrid work balances collaboration and individualism
- 5. Working in a hybrid environment promotes diversity and inclusion
- 5 practices for a hybrid work strategy that improves retention
- The Bottom Line
5 reasons why hybrid and remote work helps boost employee retention
1. If your organization doesn’t offer it, people will choose one that does
In the post-pandemic world, choosing where you work is a must-have for a lot of employees. For most people, it’s the first or second most important job filtering criterion, as a Reddit user put it:
“I’m currently employed but get contacted by recruiters from time to time, and the first two things I ask are
- What is the approximate salary range?
- Will remote candidates be considered?”
If leaders don’t give teammates enough freedom, employees will start passively considering offers with more flexibility. Introducing hybrid work options will increase loyalty and discourage employees from looking for new openings.
2. Hybrid work reduces the amount of micromanagement while keeping teams connected
Micromanagement is the reason why 69% of employees consider quitting their jobs and 36% actually do that.
Close monitoring and regular feedback may give managers confidence and peace of mind but, from an employee’s perspective, it shows lack of trust and is suffocating.
Hybrid work helps tone micromanagement down since teammates are not sharing the same space with managers five days a week.
Instead, employees can go to the office for meetings or tasks that require in-person interaction and spend the rest of the day working on their own terms.
In many ways, hybrid work is a middle ground between having no physical connection with the team (as is the case for fully remote organizations) and making teammates feel suffocated by constant oversight (as often happens in office-only workplaces). That’s why it is seen by executives and employees alike as a way to meet their needs and increase job satisfaction.
3. Hybrid environment fosters work-life balance
During the pandemic, employees became increasingly vocal about burnout, managing work-related stress, and prioritizing mental health. With their lives at risk, a lot of workers were motivated to reevaluate their priorities. They discovered that work isn’t at the center of their lifestyle – or they don’t want it to be.
That’s why work-life balance became an important part of the employee retention discussion. Giving your teammates the freedom to plan their lives and creating a working environment that seamlessly blends into their daily routines will increase job fulfillment and motivate people to keep their jobs.
Hybrid work is one of the most effective ways to promote work-life balance. Statistically, 24% of employees feel happier and more productive if they can do hybrid work from home at least 1 day a month.
On the other hand, giving the team the opportunity to come to the office instead of working fully remotely helps reduce over-collaboration – a trend of longer calls and less productive meetings that persisted during the pandemic.
4. Hybrid work balances collaboration and individualism
Working remotely has been productive, comfortable, and cost-effective. Yet, it had a major downside – miscommunication and lack of collaboration.
According to Harvard Business Review, WFH employees struggled with not being included in decision-making, not getting the full picture of the processes they are involved in, and having little space for sharing ideas.
As a result, employers had to deal with engagement and motivation dips that led to employees quitting out of the blue because they didn’t feel part of the team.
Hybrid work addresses the issue by giving teams a place for discussions, collaborative work, or getting to know each other outside of work (connecting during coffee breaks and enjoying water cooler talks).
At the same time, it gives teammates enough space to focus on their individual work in the comfort of their homes, contributing to higher productivity and improved fulfillment.
5. Working in a hybrid environment promotes diversity and inclusion
When it comes to inclusivity and diversity, hybrid work is a double-edged sword. As McKinsey rightfully points out, it has both the potential to add diversity to the team and create a biased, unlevel playing field.
Still, even with risks considered, the reward of setting up an effective hybrid environment is worth the effort.
- It helps increase diversity by allowing teams to hire talent internationally.
- It promotes inclusivity by putting employees and their needs at the center of the organization.
- It encourages equity by not putting a lot of emphasis on the physical location which would put employees who live further away from the office at a disadvantage.
5 practices for a hybrid work strategy that improves retention
In 2022, hybrid work is a must-have for staying a competitive employer and motivating employees to commit to the workplace. However, since it’s a new model, its interpretations by managers and employees are drastically different.
While Apple and Google both tried adopting a hybrid approach, neither were successful – employees still wanted to work fully remotely. This doesn’t mean hybrid work is done for as much as it shows the need for a different approach.
Based on our experience of working with large-scale hybrid companies and our own experience of running a hybrid team, we discovered the following practices for making the model successful.
1. Make office attendance a choice, not an obligation
Employees resist hybrid options because they come from the management, with little consideration of the team’s needs. Before the pandemic, the three-day-in-two-day-out arrangement would be seen as progressive – now it’s restricting for employees, encouraging many to quit.
To switch from remote to hybrid work without losing key team members, avoid imposing strict attendance rules, giving employees the choice of whether or not they should come to the office.
A degree of restriction is reasonable in case a role requires on-site presence – in that case, a leader should focus on clearly communicating the rationale to the employee.
2. Rethink office spaces
In the post-pandemic world, people are not coming to offices to work at their desks all day. They come in to catch up, share project updates, and have lunch with teammates.
Team leaders should take these changes into consideration and create collaboration-focused office spaces, where conference spaces and lounge zones prevail over cubicles and desks.
3. Invest in technology that levels the playing field
A hybrid remote work arrangement can create a divide between in-person and remote-only teams. There’s a risk that office-based employees will start discussions that don’t involve WFH teammates and leave them out of the picture.
Managers should be aware of this threat and develop practices that level the playing field. For example, team leaders should encourage office employees to use separate devices to log into meetings rather than sitting in conference rooms.
Also, investing in tools that give in-office and remote employees space for coming together helps connect both teams. In oVice, we support hybrid teams with such a solution – a virtual platform where people who work remotely can easily reach those working at the office.
Seamlessly starting a quick audio call or a video conference creates the feeling that remote teammates are at the office as well and gives managers more visibility and awareness of the remote team.
4. Build a documentation system
Working in a hybrid team requires balancing two work styles which, in turn, adds chaos to workflows and can leave both the manager and the team confused.
To keep operations structured and ordered, focus on unifying and documenting practices for remote and in-office employees.
Having cloud-based storage rather than an on-premises solution is crucial for making sure everyone on the team has access to organizational knowledge.
5. Focus on creating a “hybrid culture”
Hybrid work is challenging in implementation because it is not an extension to office work or the continuation of the remote-only environment. It’s the mix of both – it means that a hybrid team culture will be somewhat different from anything team leaders had to deal with before.
Understanding the need for a “hybrid culture” will help leaders use the advantages of the new model to the fullest. In our experience, managers can go about fostering such a culture by:
- Balancing synchronous and asynchronous communication so that employees don’t feel the constant pressure to react “here and now”.
- Switching to KPI-, not time-based, performance tracking.
- Creating interactive virtual experiences (team building events, seminars, workshops) and in-person retreats to foster stronger connections.
The Bottom Line
At the moment, hybrid work is in the trial-and-error stage for most organization leaders. For some managers, now is the first time implementing an organization-wide hybrid work system.
However, even in its immature state, the benefits of hybrid work in employee retention are clear – the balance between collaboration and freedom, improved work-life balance, higher diversity, and inclusivity. Right now, it’s up to team managers to step up and intentionally create a hybrid work system that takes all risks into account.
In our experience, technology is helpful in navigating the waters of transitioning to hybrid work. Our clients use oVice, a virtual office platform – as the backbone of the hybrid infrastructure.
To them, it’s a platform that levels the playing field for remote and in-office employees, helps teammates connect seamlessly, and gives managers a way to seamlessly oversee operations without falling into the micromanagement trap.
Explore our use cases to see how companies of all sizes use oVice to streamline day-to-day work, focus on team building, and improve employee training. To try using a virtual office, visit our tour space and see how it helps improve productivity and talent retention.