One or two days in the office per week is the ideal setup, the study found.
One or two days in the office per week is the ideal setup for hybrid work, according to a new study by the Harvard Business School. The paper, “Is Hybrid Work the Best of Both Worlds? Evidence from a Field Experiment," reports on how the extent of hybrid work—the number of days worked from home relative to days worked from the office—affects work outcomes.
The study is based on an experiment which took place in the summer of 2020 where 130 administrative workers were randomly assigned to one of three groups over nine weeks. Some spent less than 25% of their workdays in the office, some were in more than 40% of the time, while a third “intermediate" cohort landed in the middle, translating to a day or two per week.
“Our results indicate that an intermediate number of days in the office results in more emails sent, a higher number of email recipients, and increased novelty of work products," the study found. “Our test for underlying mechanisms suggests that hybrid work might represent the 'best of both worlds,' offering workers greater work-life balance, without the concern of being isolated from colleagues."
The paper notes that doubters remain about hybrid and remote work, referencing the CEO of Goldman Sachs, who voiced opposition to non-traditional work models due to their efficacy in “innovative, collaborative" contexts and wants workers back in the office five days a week.
However, “intermediate hybrid work is plausibly the sweet spot, where workers enjoy flexibility and yet are not as isolated compared to peers who are predominantly working from home," the paper found.
In addition, the researchers analyzed polling data from the start of the pandemic to conclude that those who come into the office just a few days a week don't feel they're missing out on things like mentorship.
“Work from home arrangements allow workers to capture the benefits of a productive and enjoyable workplace almost as much as those workers who are always in the office," the paper said. “Our results consistently suggest that intermediate levels of WFH may result in both enhanced novelty of work products and greater work-related communication."
In September 2021, two-thirds of agency owners believed workplace flexibility is here to stay as employees look to continue to work in a remote or hybrid model, according to “The State of The Independent Insurance Agency Report for 2021" by The Hanover, which surveyed 500 independent agency owners.
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.