Neuroscience Suggests the 3-2 Hybrid Model May Make Everyone Unhappy

A pair of neuroscience experts are calling the hybrid workweek – two or three days in the office and the rest at home – “the worst return to office strategy,” in an article in Fast Company.

Some of the biggest companies are taking this middle ground, say Laura Cassady and David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute, but they contend that like most compromises, “The 3-2 model leaves almost everyone feeling dissatisfied.”

Why? It takes away some of the autonomy enjoyed during office shutdowns, sparking a threat response that fuels frustration, anxiety and uncertainty, they write. Negative reactions are likely to be stronger than positive ones, and productivity may suffer because many employees believe they work more efficiently at home.

Cassady and Rock suggest companies try out a few different ideas and see what works best. “Perhaps experiment with bringing different teams together once a month for a few days to work around each other, and once a quarter bring all those teams together at the same time. And let the people who know they are more productive outside the home come to the office when they want to.” Another suggestion is to allow employees to choose any two days per two-week pay period to spend in the office. If these ideas fail, try something else.

Providing as much autonomy as possible may be the most effective strategy and could boost retention and recruitment. Cassady and Rock note a passage from a recent open letter from some Apple employees to executives: “…let us decide how we work best, and let us do the best work of our lives.”


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