Maximizing Productivity in Hybrid Work: Strategies for Managers

February 13, 2024

Maximizing Producitivity in Hybrid Work

The remote work revolution has sparked countless debates, with productivity often placed at the epicenter. While opinions swirl, data paints a more nuanced picture. The impact of hybrid work on employee productivity is a complex issue with no easy answers. Some studies have shown that hybrid work can lead to increased productivity, while others have found that it can decrease productivity. Ultimately, the impact of hybrid work on productivity likely depends on a variety of factors, such as the individual employee, the nature of their work, and the company culture.


  • How does the hybrid work model impact employee productivity and satisfaction, and what role does leadership play in navigating these outcomes? The debate on hybrid work’s impact on productivity is nuanced, with studies indicating both benefits and drawbacks. Research highlights increased productivity and job satisfaction among hybrid workers, yet also points to declines in employee satisfaction in some cases. Leadership effectiveness differs between in-office and remote settings, affecting change implementation and employee engagement differently. The essence of navigating hybrid work lies in leveraging the advantages of both in-person and remote interactions, suggesting that a balanced, flexible approach is crucial for optimizing productivity and employee satisfaction.

Embracing Hybrid Work Model Best Practices

  • A 2023 study by Microsoft found that employees who worked in hybrid or remote arrangements were more productive than those who worked in the office full-time.
  • A 2022 study by Owl Labs found that employees who worked in hybrid arrangements were more satisfied with their jobs and had a better work-life balance than those who worked in the office full-time.
  • A 2021 study by Upwork found that 57% of workers said they were more productive when working from home.

But there are other studies…

Boosting Hybrid Team Productivity Through Leadership

Hybrid work has changed the way that we connect with our team members. A recent New York Times podcast delved into the issue of hybrid workers still not finding their footing in an often-chaotic work scene. What days are they coming in or staying home? Will their team members be there on the same day? Should they participate in “forced fun” to improve office relationships? Is returning to the office on occasion just the downside of a commute without experiencing the upside of career development and office friendships that a more consistent environment would bring?

How do we refocus hybrid work to take full advantage of the benefits of being in person? We first need to clearly understand what benefits come from face-to-face interactions that leaders can take advantage of.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hybrid Work

We were interested in looking at a leader’s ability to make changes by comparing managers working in offices versus those working remotely.

Would leaders working in offices be rated as more effective at successfully making changes?

While the differences were not huge, we did find three behaviors where office workers were rated significantly higher than those working remotely.

The data we used to compare the effectiveness of the managers were 360-degree assessments with ratings from only direct reports. We feel that the direct report has the most accurate evaluations of their managers’ ability to facilitate change. In the data we collected, we had 1,355 managers who worked in the office and 998 working remotely. The items that showed differences provide some additional insight into the advantages of the different work situations. In the table below, we show the percentile scores on the three items with the largest differences, along with the results from a t-test comparing differences and the level of significance.

Office Managers Remote Managers T Value Sig.
Has the courage to make the changes that will improve the organization. 51.6 48.6 2.44 0.02
Does an excellent job of marketing projects, programs, or products. 51.4 49.0 2.01 0.05
Quickly recognizes situations where change is needed. 51.4 49.2 1.82 0.07

While the differences are not large, they do highlight the advantage of being face-to-face with a manager in an office where direct reports are more likely to notice the courage and marketing ability of a manager.

Maximizing Productivity in Hybrid Work: Engagement of Direct Reports

Direct reports were also asked six questions about their level of engagement. The table below shows direct reports who worked with remote managers had significantly higher scores on their discretionary effort. Discretionary effort is measured by asking employees their willingness to “go the extra mile.” This measure significantly impacts productivity in organizations. However, direct reports working in the office had significantly higher scores on their “confidence the organization would achieve its strategic goals.” Perhaps being in the office provides employees with more information and insights into what is happening in the organization, its achievements, and its successes.

Office Direct Reports Remote Direct Reports T Value Sig.
My work environment is a place where people want to go the extra mile. 48.9 52.6 -2.98 0.00
Each person is treated with dignity and respect. 49.8 52.1 -1.78 0.08
I would recommend this organization as a good place to work. 50.8 50.4 0.33 0.74
All in all, I’m satisfied with this organization as a place to work. 51.3 49.6 1.29 0.20
I rarely think about quitting my job to go to a different organization. 51.4 49.7 1.39 0.16
I feel confident that this organization will achieve its strategic goals. 51.7 48.5 2.56 0.01

Conclusion: Navigating the Future with Effective Hybrid Workplace Management

In conclusion, the ongoing debate over the merits of remote versus face-to-face work is not one that can be resolved with a one-size-fits-all answer. Our exploration into the intricacies of hybrid work environments reveals that both setups offer unique benefits and drawbacks for productivity. While face-to-face leadership in an office setting does enhance certain managerial abilities, such as the courage to enact changes and the skill to effectively market ideas, remote work fosters greater discretionary effort and autonomy among employees. The key takeaway is not about choosing one over the other, but rather understanding and leveraging the strengths of each.

Work is constantly evolving; the most effective approach seems to be a hybrid model that combines the best of both worlds. This model capitalizes on the advantages of in-person interactions for strategic alignment and relationship building, while also embracing the flexibility and independence of remote work to boost employee satisfaction and productivity. Ultimately, the goal for organizations should be to foster a work environment that is adaptable, responsive, and attuned to the diverse needs and strengths of its workforce.

-Joe Folkman, President of Zenger Folkman