(No) Hybrid Work Talk with Oscar

(No) Hybrid Work Talk with Oscar

For the last few months I've been working remotely / hybrid. Basically, not going to the office every day. Mostly because my team didn't have any official sitting place. That changed last week. Do I have thoughts on this whole "return to office" movement? You know I do, but let's see it from a global perspective, because I think this applies to most cases and to most companies now asking employees to return.

It's not about efficiency

There's lots, lots and lots of papers from different sources trying to measure efficiency on remote / home office environments, on hybrid positions and onsite office workers and honestly it would be a waste of my time to try and link some of them. Why? Because they're all over the place. Some claim an increase, some claim a loss of. Truth is, there's no single and unique way of measuring all the factors that contribute or lessen the efficiency of teams. Every team is different and each person more so.

To really and justly measure my work efficiency in both the office and home my best guess is that you'd have to give me the same equipment, ambient temperature, noise level, sleep hours, same tasks and time frame... You get it? It is not possible.

In my personal experience, managers have confused my much needed leisure / release time after hours of hard work as procrastination more often than not, but I'm of the kind that works hard and plays hard. Even when managing to accomplish more than my peers in the same time frame, the appearance of me spending a few minutes chatting was detrimental to my performance evaluations. And that's the main issue, efficiency is relative to perception if it's not measured. To make things worse, perception is really skewed negatively if you can't see the things happening, the same way days take longer if you're waiting for something to arrive.

Remote Work Increases Employee Happiness By 20%, New Study Finds
A new study questions why companies are forcing employees back into the office when working from home makes them happier, causing their engagement and productivity to skyrocket.

It's not about what makes our team happier

This one is easy and applies to everyone in a position where working from home may apply. Just ask them, "would you do it if offered?" I have yet to hear someone straight up say no. Having the opportunity of working from home brings something that is intangible and undervalued: happiness. Surprisingly, and unlike productivity, remote workers are happier in every study made –only thing changing is the increased percentage, though, varying from 15 to 24%.

Women also see the additional benefit of being able to do child care and household activities while still being top / high performant thanks to not having to –or more easily– juggle between work and their kids' agenda. Obviously, it is not about making their lives easier, either.


Some teams have members that are located in cities where there are no company offices. Are they going to be requested to relocate or allowed to remain completely remote? Most of the time we simply don't know, but we all know that not having all rules apply the same way to all employees will decrease morale and increase conflict and resistance.

I think it's about management

One thing I want to make clear from the start: Being a manager is hard as hell.

Before remote work was a thing, managing was already hard. Dealing with different personalities, knowing how to approach each team member the best, giving them enough space to work but not too much, trusting them but also making sure they do whatever they have to do... Man, just thinking about it made my head spin. Of course, there's courses, training, online support and tools and all of that, but at the end of the day we're all humans and you just simply don't know what someone else is dealing with. So, imagine dealing with all that, but you can't see the other person... And my guess is that this is the main reason for our return to the office.

Overcoming Remote Work Challenges
Organizations can overcome three major remote-work communication challenges with these strategies.

The transition of employees to remote is easy peasy. You just have to open your computer, access a different wifi from the one in your office and turn on the VPN or access tool and that's it, business as usual after that. You can resume your standard work from anywhere in the world. But a manager? Most of their activities are employee supervision-related and the usual challenges like missing information flow, lack of face-to-face interactions and interpersonal communication only get amplified when moving to a remote setting. Since remote working only got popular after the recent COVID-19 pandemic, most managers haven't been trained on how to perform better in this new modality that's unnatural to the way corporations have been managed since their inception.

So, what's the easiest thing to do? Go back to our old ways, even if it's not the best for our teams

I may be totally incorrect about this. There's a chance, but I think most remote / hybrid workers that were asked to return to the office feel the same way: If it isn't for the real estate your company already had, then they're doing this because management is more difficult to do effectively in this new setting.

Either way, I think it's a matter of time before things start to normalize. I think WFH is here to stay and companies will start seeing the value of having people working more comfortably on their houses where possible and keeping only key people whose tasks cannot be done remotely while using their real estate in whatever makes more profit to them.