OHIO — In the past few years, employees have been offered more models to work, than ever before.
In 2020, countless businesses had to close their offices and send their employees home. The result was a lifestyle change that many workers came to enjoy.
“This is one genie that cannot be put back into the bottle,” said Tracey Messer, who serves as a professor at Case Western’s School of Management.
Hybrid and fully remote schedules have given people more flexibility and a better work-life balance. According to recent data, it’s both young and old people that enjoy the new work model.
“It turns out that it is senior employees who are most interested in working from home or home,” said Messer.
Productivity has been the main point of concern. A recent 2023 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows remote workers are 18% less productive than their counterparts in the office. However, it all depends on how you measure productivity.
“People who are working from home believe that they're more productive and there's speculation that that's because their break time is more productive,” said Messer. “So someone might be putting in a load of laundry or taking the dog out.”
Big organizations like Amazon, Google and Apple have started requiring their employees to return to the office by a certain date.
While those decisions sit better with some than others, Larry Inks, with Ohio State's Fisher College of Business, said it’s imperative that companies clearly communicate the reason why they’re making the move.
“They have to basically say, 'here are the reasons why it's so important that we're back together,'” said Inks. “Here is where the value is derived. Here's where innovation comes from, and there's mentoring moments. Here are all the reasons why we want to have you back in the office. Employees may not necessarily like that decision, but they could certainly understand it and they could respect it.”
A recent survey from Forbes shows the majority of people still work in the office with only 12% fully remote and 28% working hybrid jobs. That same study suggests that there will be an increase in both fully remote and hybrid jobs come 2025. Inks says it’s important to have options and work with employees.
“The best organizations right now are the ones that are understanding what their business needs are, understanding what their social capital needs are, and then making sure those social capital needs are met,” said Inks. “At the same time, they should try to be as flexible with their employees as possible.”
Experts say the push for working remote or hybrid could change due to technology burnout, need for socialization and other factors.