It’s hard to believe that the pandemic has been going on long enough for us to have real, valuable data on how it has affected the way we work. While the benefits of working remotely can’t be minimized, research from Harvard Business School shows that a majority (63%) of employees would like to come into the office 2-3 days per week.
The kicker here is making sure that the days employees DO spend in the office are “worth it”. There are few things more deflating then coming into the office, and then sitting on remote meetings all day or staring at empty seats. How do we make the most of our in-office time and try and build back some of the company culture?
We think the answer can be found in a hybrid model of work.
Hybrid work is by far the most challenging, but we believe it also has the most benefits.
Starting at the beginning of September, Media Works asked all employees local to our Baltimore office to come into the office two days per week, between Tuesday and Thursday. This allows our employees to take ownership of their schedules, while also making the most out of time in the office. If everyone comes in two days a week, in the middle of the week, they are almost guaranteed to see each person in the office, at least once a week.
And we are not alone. A host of larger companies like Citigroup, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Target have also moved to a permanent hybrid model. While we have many fully remote employees (just as the companies listed) we find a blend of fully remote and hybrid employees to be the best working model for our business.
That’s not to say hybrid work doesn’t have its pitfalls. As an agency we have to balance having in office collaborative tasks vs. more individual tasks done at home. We also must keep remote AND in person work in mind in everything we do. Making sure all employees feel connected and engaged no matter where they are working from. Remote work innately lends itself to more meetings and “zoom” fatigue, and we are still trying to figure out as an agency how to minimize those challenges.
The benefits of these two days a week have been seen in the collaboration and communication of our employees. In-person one on ones make for a better connection. Brainstorming meetings are happening more organically. Issues and questions on accounts are being answered more quickly. And our more junior employees are getting the “office” experience of our more seasoned pros while working with them face to face.
While there is no doubt that remote work often promotes a better work/life balance and allows for more flexibility, humans are at our core, social creatures. Zoom fatigue, burnout and the like are incredibly common in our remote world. Working together creates a better sense of community and partnership, fostering learning and social connection. Finding the balance between these two has proved trickier than we imagined, but we think we might be on the right path.
Written by Human Resources, Melissa Davis