5 Hybrid Work Model Best Practices from Stanford Professor Nick Bloom

The hybrid work model is now the most common, but challenges persist. Stanford professor Nick Bloom shares five best practices for successful hybrid work.
Daan van Rossum
Daan van Rossum
Founder & CEO, FlexOS
I founded FlexOS because I believe in a happier future of work. I write and host "Future Work," I'm a 2024 LinkedIn Top Voice, and was featured in the NYT, HBR, Economist, CNBC, Insider, and FastCo.
March 23, 2024
min read

COVID-19 may be in our rearview mirror, but the hybrid work model, which launched to universal fame and popularity during this time, is here to stay.

The hybrid work model combines the benefits of remote work like flexibility and autonomy with the upsides of in-person collaboration—as some would say, the best of both worlds.

Hybrid work offers benefits like flexibility, productivity, cost savings, talent attraction, innovation, and environmental sustainability.

With so many benefits, it's no wonder that according to the latest hybrid work statistics, most employees now come to the office 2-3 days per week.

Best Practices for Running a Successful Hybrid Work Model

Hybrid work guru Nick Bloom
Hybrid work guru Nick Bloom

Now, even though we may have been running the hybrid work model for a while, that doesn't mean we've all figured it out.

Most companies still struggle with understanding the right hybrid work schedule, implementing the best hybrid work policy. (find our hybrid work policy template here if this is you.)

They're also dealing with the 33% of employees who say they don't have the right technology, and face the fact that hybrid employees rate their manager's ability to lead hybrid teams a meager 7 out of 10.

But, don't fret, because I spoke to the guru of work-from-home, Stanford Professor Nick Bloom.

Here are five practical tips based on insights he shared:

1. Emphasize Data over Anecdotes

Nick Bloom: What the Media Gets Wrong
Nick Bloom: What the Media Gets Wrong

We're bombarded with return-to-office stories, but the data often tells another story.

As Nick highlights, the media often focuses on anecdotal stories that may not accurately represent the reality of remote and hybrid work:

"The media is picking up on what's more interesting. Honestly, if I were a journalist and my career and progress depended on clicks, comments, and forwards of my article, I'd probably do the same." – Nick Bloom

Before you change your hybrid work model based on a headline, make sure you understand the actual numbers. He reminds us that Elon Musk headlines don't make for an accurate reflection of reality:

"How does that statement square up with Elon Musk's, Jamie Diamond's, and David Solomon's?" Well, I think we're talking about elite CEOs that are running massive companies, and they are a tiny fraction of the population, but they're a very particular fraction of the population because they're the fraction of the population that happily works 100 hours a week." – Nick Bloom

Rely on data and research to inform your decisions and dispel misconceptions.

Because the data is clear: hybrid is here to stay. The latest survey results from Nick's study show that office attendance is 'flat as a pancake.'

2. Create Intentional Office Days for Hybrid Work

When employees come into the office, ensure that the time is purposeful and meaningful.

Focus on hybrid work activities best suited for in-person collaboration, such as one-on-one meetings, mentoring, group meetings, problem-solving sessions, training, and presentations:

"Having talked to companies where this works, they made sure there are lots of meetings, trainings, and events. It seemed like there was a reason for them to come in, because that's how it takes off." – Nick Bloom

Creating these intentional office days will reduce the feeling that people 'have' to go to an office, but rather want to be there. This is key for hybrid work to succeed.

As Nick also shared:

"One company set that up for two days. Both those two days were packed, people felt vibrant and energized, and actually in the end there was demand for a third." – Nick Bloom

3. Coordinate Those Office Days

2/3, a typical hybrid work schedule
2/3, a typical hybrid work schedule

Nick reminds that the best hybrid workplace is one where companies coordinate their in-office days.

While choice and flexible schedules may seem appealing, it misses the point of why hybrid workers would be in the office: to connect and collaborate.

"The data supports this by some huge margin. The reason people come into work is to work with and socialize with colleagues. So that pushes you in favor of coordination. We work together. In non-coordinated workplaces, I often hear employees and managers tell me, Yeah, I came in; I spent much of the day on Zoom. There is a lack of energy. I'm really frustrated. What the heck did I do?" – Nick Bloom

This focus on coordination in hybrid working is why more companies are now adopting room scheduling software and hot desk booking software like Tactic, OfficeRnD Hybrid, and Offisly.

These platforms not only make sure people have a desk or room to work from, but also ensure people come to the office on days when their coworkers are there.

All this helps build a strong hybrid culture in which people are connected, and get the most out of their office days.

4. Focus on Hybrid Office Design

Hybrid Office Design Matters
Hybrid Office Design Matters

Not any office is a great hybrid office.

Nick predicts that beautiful offices, designed to entice people to spend time in them, will continue to do relatively well.

Offices that were purely designed as a place to do work with limited attention to the employee experience won't do well in the hybrid work era:

"So huge cities and their offices are much emptier than they used to be. The nice ones are not doing so badly, because if you're Goliath National Bank or whatever huge company, you want folks in for hybrid, you want them in somewhere nice. It's the nasty old-fashioned offices; some of that stuff's being converted to residential, which is good." – Nick Bloom

Practice hybrid office design best practices, like ensuring plenty of social, meet, and focus spaces, as well as a focus on amenities modern hybrid workers need.

If you've embraced hot desking, ensure that your hot desk booking software is as user-friendly and attractive as the office itself. For employees, the technology you use is in part how they perceive your company.

5. In Hybrid Work Models, Focus on Outcomes, Not Keystrokes

Hybrid work models require a different approach to performance management.

Nick emphasizes the importance of measuring and evaluating good work based on outcomes rather than resorting to surveillance or micromanagement.

He mentions an interview with Marissa Meyer, in which she mentions the need to focus on outcomes and how he think companies should implement this:

"She said you really need performance evaluation tools and to be clear. This is not surveillance. It's not watching he strokes and screenshots. It's saying, you know, Nick have you met yourselves targets? Have you produced your report? I'm gonna you know, make sure that you're meeting your objectives. If you are that's great. You're the boss. If you want to go play golf in the morning and make it out in the evening. That's fine." – Nick Bloom

Too many companies are in a constant state of anxiety about perceived challenging in employee productivity amongst hybrid workers. This, even though the data clearly shows there are no productivity issues beyond what was already the case during the 'office era.'

Establish clear performance evaluation systems that focus on employee performance goals, objectives and deliverables.

This approach encourages autonomy and empowers employees to manage their time effectively.

In hybrid work, they don't need babysitting, but they do need clarity and insight.

The Bottom Line: a Hybrid Work Model means Intentionality

Hybrid Means Intentional
Hybrid Means Intentional

The rise of the hybrid work model represents a significant shift in how we approach work.

It combines flexibility, productivity, and collaboration in a way that benefits both employees and employers.

But, to do it well, companies have to become more intentional.

Whether it's the office design, on which days people come in, or how they're evaluated, adjustments are necessary.

And seeing that no one is interested in coming back to the office full-time, focus on delivering this change now, rather than later.

For more, check out our detailed guide to Hybrid Work and our eBook "Hybrid Work Model Best Practices."

And to level up your workplace technology, don't wait another moment to switch over to a more employee-friendly desk booking software and room scheduling software.

You Might Also Like …

All articles about

Hybrid Work

Hybrid work (or hybrid remote work) lets people combine in-office days with focused work-from-home days. How does that work? Read all about it on flexos.work.