- The Reasoning: Motivations for structured hybrid schedules are varied. Some companies want to maximise their investment in office real estate, others want to retain a strong company culture, while many believe in-person working increases productivity. Alongside these process-orientated reasons is a pragmatic one: rather than pursuing layoffs, it’s easier for cash-strapped companies to introduce RTO requirements to encourage employees to quit.
- The Schedule: While many companies are asking employees to come in for a set number of days each week (typically two to three), workplace culture experts caution this blanket approach doesn’t please workers because it overlooks when and how different teams need face-to-face collaboration.
Instead, experts advise a flexible approach, like allowing departments to determine their own in-person schedules. Focusing on “core” weeks when employees work onsite may also feel more manageable. This model is implemented at American food company Smucker’s, which charts 70-80% occupancy during its annual 22 “core” weeks. The schedule of these weeks is announced at the beginning of the year, allowing employees to plan around it.
- The Incentives: Employees want to retain control over where, when and how they work. This has positive business outcomes: 64% of global workers report improved focus when they control their environment (Future Forum, 2023). Meanwhile, 76% of Americans say they’re dissatisfied with their work situation because they work in person more than they’d like (Fiverr, 2023).
Incentives are one, albeit limited, strategy for companies to close this gap. Employees are most likely to want subsidised travel (46%) and lunches (45%) as RTO incentives – perks offered by only 18% and 32% of employers, respectively (Hays, 2023).