The Return to In-person Working and The Hybrid Model

BALTIMORE, MD, August 9, 2022 – New audio is available for media use featuring Anita Woolley. She’s an Associate Dean, Research at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. She’s also a Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory. She discusses the return to in-person working and the hybrid workforce model. This content is made available by INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences. What follows are 4 questions and responses, these responses were provided on August 8, 2022.



Question 1: What are the biggest challenges for employees going back to a hybrid model of working this Fall?

Time Cue: 0:25, Soundbite Duration: :55

“Well, certainly a lot of organizations are managing hybrid work in a variety of ways and so what kinds of challenges employees will face will depend a little bit on how their organization is dealing with this. But assuming that many organizations are setting policies either requiring people to come into the office a certain number of days, or maybe some are full-time and some are always remote, either way there are going to be a few different challenges. One will be adjusting their own personal routine so that they can deal with both work and home life if they had flexibility to work from home before, and they suddenly don't, you know that will be an adjustment.  But secondly and one that is a little hard to anticipate is how they will need to coordinate with their coworkers if everybody's on a different schedule at a different place at different times, all of the coordination practices may need to change.”  



Question 2: What are the biggest challenges for employers going back to a hybrid model of working this Fall?

Time Cue: 1:28, Soundbite Duration: :41 

“Well, certainly depending on how the organization is managing it, there could be a few different challenges.  If an organization is mandating that employees return to the office for a certain amount of time, the first thing is they're going to have to manage the reactions of those employees who aren't happy with that policy and figure out how to work with that, how to negotiate that, or whether or not to negotiate that.  But a second thing will be fostering communication and collaboration and building relationships both with those who are in the office part of the time maybe at different times, or bridging the gap with those who aren't in the office at all.”



Question 3: What should employers be doing to ensure the hybrid model for remote and in-office work is most effective?

Time Cue: 02:17, Soundbite Duration: :41

“A major thing that many organizations could do to make a whole variety of different work arrangements more effective is to really look into ways to adopt asynchronous routines and tools for facilitating work. Many organizations rely way too much on synchronous meetings in order to even simply transfer information or do some pretty straightforward coordination. And synchronous meetings are really among the activities that make hybrid or remote work the most difficult. Because they tend to open up the fault lines that separate people who are in the office from those who are remote or even between different groups of employees in different time zones.”



Question 4: What kind of changes to the American workplace are now more permanent than before the pandemic?

Time Cue: 03:07, Soundbite Duration: :41

“Well, I think a big thing that many organizations and workers learned as a result of the pandemic was that it's possible to conduct work more effectively in a remote environment than they probably thought was true previously.  And now that we know that, it's pretty much impossible to unknow that. And what that means is that as organizations might adopt a stance where they're trying to get employees back to the office, it's going to raise very natural questions about why that's even necessary. So, I think it's set up sort of another area where employees and their managers may be having a bit of a tug of war.”

The Return to In-person Working and The Hybrid Model

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