Hybrid work model is preferred by employees and executives, study shows
Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Sao Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP), in partnership with PageGroup and PwC Brasil, recently carried out a study on “Post-Pandemic Work Models: More Flexibility, Empathy and Productivity.” The study looked at people’s preferences and expectations regarding the resumption of in-person work. The main sectors studied were manufacturing, consulting, finance, health, education, technology, services, transport, construction and commerce. The analysis of results was overseen by the director of FGV EAESP’s Executive Master’s in Administration, Paul Ferreira.
The researchers looked at different models for resuming office work and found that employees want a renewed experience that is more participatory and involves in-person interactions again. On the other hand, they do not want to lose the flexibility they have attained, which they believe has boosted their professional growth.
The study covered 289 executives and 633 other employees, of whom 80% were in southeastern Brazil. The “executives” group only included professionals in C-level roles, while the “other employees” group included assistants, analysts, coordinators and managers. On average, the members of the latter group were 10 years younger than the executives. Generation X predominated among executives, while most other employees were in Generation Y.
Employees want more flexibility
- - 71% of the respondents hope that their workplace will become more informal or flexible.
- - 25% believe that some rules will be made more flexible.
- - 30% of employees think the office of the future ought to be more informal and the rules more flexible. However, this proportion drops to almost half this when it comes to executives.
Are leaders prepared?
Executives acknowledge the productivity gains resulting from remote work but they are more cautious about changes in terms of flexibility. This is possibly because they fear the impacts of new arrangements on the well-being of the workforce and long-term talent retention, as well as the ability to sustain increased productivity and innovation over time.
- - 72% of executives believe that leaders have adapted to remote work (actively or passively).
- - 61% think it is harder to align the interests of team members if leaders are not present. At companies where leaders better adapted to remote work, executives were less likely to agree with this statement.
Hybrid model is preferred
The study also looked at the factors of age generations and gender. Women tend to prefer more remote working models, such as full-time working from home and hybrid regimes with just one or two days in the office per week. Both executives and other employees prefer a hybrid regime, with one or two days a week in the office, considering that this is the best way for companies to maximize their staff productivity.
One possible reason for this preference is the fact that 78% of women reported being able to perform all or almost all of their tasks from home, compared to 59% of men. In terms of generations, younger people are more likely to prefer working from home full-time.
Participants’ perception of their productivity differs according to gender. Women were more likely than men to claim that they are significantly more productive working from home, especially among Generation Z (people who were born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s).
This phenomenon may be related to the fact that women report working more hours from home than men. In other words, their output may be obtained at the expense of overwork.
Working from home caused perception of greater workload
Regarding how employees deal with flexibility, there are no significant differences between men and women in the “other employees” group. However, there is a significant gender difference in the “executive” group, especially among those who said they “worked less” or “did more than four hours of overtime per week.”
While attractive to employees, the flexible working-from-home model brought about a greater workload, which can lead to health problems and low productivity in the long run. To a large extent, the productivity gain reported in this regime was achieved by incorporating freed-up commuting time into longer working hours.
According to the authors, this shows that it will be increasingly difficult to maintain or expand productivity in future. This problem is already beginning to be experienced by many companies, which reported growing cases of physical and mental exhaustion during the pandemic. One hypothesis is that the more conservative view of executives reflects this.
Benefits of hybrid regime
1- Less time spent commuting
2- More flexible hours
3- Ability to work from home
4- Close to family
5- More freedom in everyday activities
6- Greater dedication to personal projects
Factors that hinder working from home the most
- - Not enough proper contact with team members
- - Hard to access company
- - Anxiety, worry or lack of motivation
- - Disruption from other members of the household
- - Unsuitable infrastructure or space in home
- - Personal distractions such as phone and social networks
- - Need to access and handle physical documents
- - Poor communication with direct managers
Most women claimed that their productivity has not been harmed by negative factors. The problems mentioned most often by women were lack of contact with team members and anxiety, worry or lack of motivation. Men were most likely to mention lack of contact with team members, the fact that it is hard to access systems and unsuitable infrastructure at home.
According to Professor Paul Ferreira, the data suggests that CEOs believe that recent productivity gains may not have been obtained in a healthy way, as workers may not have adequate support at home to separate their personal and professional lives. “They wonder to what extent excess flexibility is sustainable, as it poses long-term risks to the well-being of teams, talent retention, companies’ productivity and their ability to innovate,” he says.