The value of clarity: Clear expectations are the secret to making hybrid work a success
White-collar workers tend to like hybrid working. Research by Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University suggests that, on average, employees reckon the blend of in-person and remote work is a perk equivalent to an 8% pay increase.
The biggest attraction of days spent working from home is the absence of a commute. Other benefits include not having to get ready for the office: the proportion of people wearing a fresh set of clothes drops by 20 percentage points when they are not commuting.
Executives have been keener to get people back into the office full-time, so that employees can bond with peers, absorb the corporate culture and appreciate the awesome power of laundry.
But even sceptics have accepted that hybrid working will be part of the post-pandemic future: in his annual letter to shareholders this week, Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan Chase, said he thought that about 40% of the bank's staff would be hybrid.
The job now is to make sure that hybridisation works as well as it can for both employees and employers. That depends on one ingredient above all: clarity. Things function best when everyone knows what is expected.
Start with the shape of the hybrid week. One of the great theoretical attractions of hybrid working to employees is that they get to choose what days they come in.
But the point of in-person working is to spend time collaborating and bonding with their colleagues: that is much more likely to happen if companies are clear about who they want in the office on which days of the week.
Clarity also maximises the benefits of work-from-home days. If office time is best spent in a whirlwind of collaborative brainstorming and socialising, home days are logically the time when solo and focused work should get done.
That requires bosses to do what comes unnaturally to them, by resisting the temptation to interrupt at will.