Solving the hybrid working productivity puzzle

8 min read | Hayley Southward | Article | | Flexible and hybrid working

solving the hybrid working productivity puzzle

Despite the fact that next to no one was familiar with the term ‘hybrid work’ until 2020, it has now entered the general lexicon as the working norm for vast numbers of professionals across the globe. 

It’s been heralded as transformational, providing employees with the answer to their work-life balance conundrums and presenting organisations with a unique opportunity to completely rethink how they go about tapping into the creativity, agility and efficiency within their workforce. Its detractors, meanwhile, say it poses a risk to organisational culture and exacerbates existing inequalities. But are we making too much of it? Hybrid work, for all its promise and its caveats, is just work. 

Despite ongoing fears from bosses that diminished visibility of their teams will result in a dip in productivity levels, research has consistently shown that, if done right, hybrid working can foster exactly the right conditions for maximising productivity. 


At a glance: how can organisations maximise hybrid working productivity?

  • Trust your staff
  • Adapt your workplace model
  • Foster connections among colleagues
  • Strive for improvement

Presenteeism, or the pressure employees feel to meet an organisation’s behavioural expectations, rather than its business outputs, is arguably one of the greatest hindrances to productivity at work. Hybrid working has been warmly received by professionals, but has also presented managers with an opportunity to redefine how productivity is achieved within the dimensions of this new model – not only in terms of how much people get done when work is no longer confined to a single ‘place’, but the way they go about fulfilling what’s asked of them.

Our 2024 Salary & Recruiting Trends guide – a compilation of our trusted and comprehensive insights into the ever-evolving world of work – provides a series of recommendations for employers on turning talent challenges into opportunities, including how to maximise team productivity in a hybrid model:


1. Trust your staff

There has been much discourse about workplaces becoming ‘connectivity hubs’ in the wake of a pivot to hybrid working, allowing much of the quieter, more thoughtful work to happen at home. However, this level of jurisdiction over how employees spend their time is likely to hamper productivity rather than facilitate it. Provided teams are given clear guidance on what’s expected of them and how to achieve it, they should know better than anyone what kind of approach is needed to get the job done. Trusting them to do this in whatever fashion they find most productive, whether through solitary, creative introspection or connection and collaboration, is the key to getting the most out of a workforce.

Giving employees clear goals and autonomy over where and how they get things done not only helps to build a culture based on trust and mutual respect, but places the focus on outputs rather than merely time spent at a desk.


2. Adapt your workplace model

According to our Salary Guide research, there are considerable discrepancies between different age groups and seniorities when it comes to working preferences. Senior level professionals, for example, say they are more productive when working from home, compared to entry level and junior professionals who perform better in the workplace. 

Well over a third (38%) of professionals say ways of working that are adapted to individual needs where possible improves hybrid work effectiveness – so in designing your model, consider how you can accommodate these. Understanding not only people’s varying needs and perspectives, but the implications of coordinating a variety of different circumstances and preferences across different teams, is vital to making a success of hybrid working. Consider: how will changes affect collaboration, leadership and culture?


For further hiring insights, including advice on how to redesign roles to release time and add value, take a look at the video below:



3. Foster connections among colleagues

Amid all the noise about what employees want from hybrid working – one thing is incontrovertibly clear: more than anything else, social connection is what draws most people to the workplace. This is perhaps particularly true of Gen Z employees, many of whom are keen to establish themselves as part of their workplace community and feel connected to their co-workers. Using in-person time to build social capital and strengthen team bonds should therefore be top of the priority list for employers keen to build a strong hybrid model, with those that fail to do this risking disaffection from their workforce.

The very nature of hybrid working means that the workplace can’t be the only answer, however. The role that technology plays in creating connections, regardless of how, where, and when people work is vital. When asked what they believe makes hybrid working more productive, just under a quarter (24%) of professionals said they value the importance of employers investing in appropriate tools and technologies to facilitate a hybrid working model. Over half (53%) say bosses should regularly celebrate employee achievements, regardless of where they’re working, demonstrating the importance of maintaining human connection – wherever that might occur.

"Using in-person time to build social capital and strengthen team bonds should be top of the priority list for employers keen to build a strong hybrid model."


4. Strive for improvement

The ongoing shift to establishing hybrid working as the norm has also required a pivot in ways of thinking for employers – from worrying about whether their teams are working enough to helping them focus on the work that’s most important. Furthermore, this prioritisation must go beyond simply reordering tasks – it’s vital that purpose and clarity is established by leaders, and any work aligned with the organisation’s mission.

Showing a commitment to solving this productivity conundrum is essential to securing both staff loyalty and their investment in organisational goals. Bosses must not only listen to their teams, but consistently take action to improve their hybrid model as a result of the feedback they receive – these data-driven insights are critical to remaining competitive both as a company and an employer.   

Want to discover how we can help you build a cost-optimised hiring strategy that's designed for maximum productivity? Get in contact today to leverage our leading market intelligence, powerful technology, and expert consultation.


About this author

Hayley Southward, Head of Learning & Development

Hayley has been with Hays since 2011 and the Head of Learning & Development since 2022. She is responsible for challenging and inspiring our people to reach their full potential through the strategic development and deployment of innovative, engaging and blended learning programmes that are proactively designed to anticipate changing markets and customer and business needs.  

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