Four Lessons About Hybrid Work We Learned From 2022

This year, hybrid work has been at the center of the most heated workforce debates. Months of debate over whether workers should return to the office have been accompanied by piles and piles of research studies that consistently find hybrid or remote work to be non-negotiable for a significant number of employees and candidates.

As 2022 approaches, many leaders have acknowledged their own biases and consented to compromise on hybrid work. Some are still experimenting; for them, it’s a work in progress. Others are unwilling to even try to experiment and continue to reject any notion of a shift away from the traditional 9-5 model. And, of course, the most progressive – some of whom had already embraced hybrid work prior to the pandemic – are moving into the new year with their working model polished to perfection.

Read: The Hybrid Workforce: Best Practices For Security And Adoption

So, let’s get started on what we’ve learned about the hybrid working model this year.

Not many people want to work entirely from home or in an office

Despite the hype surrounding younger workers’ demands for remote work, the reality is that after two years of lockdowns, folks do want to return to the office on occasion. People want to be able to socialize with their coworkers, participate in collaborative work discussions in person, and have general human contact with people who work in the same space as them.

Surveys have also typically revealed that the number of employees wishing to do fully remote work has decreased since 2021, most likely due to the disadvantages of being fully remote: isolation and disconnection, the inability to collaborate effectively with team members, and even falling on the wrong side of proximity bias, which causes career advancement to suffer.

However, even fewer people want to return to work full-time – and those who do are predominately the bosses.

WFH is only one aspect of hybrid work

Today, we most commonly think of hybrid work as a combination of working from home and working from the office, or as location flexibility. However, there is also time flexibility, which dates back well prior to the pandemic.

Open-minded employers have always given employees some leeway in terms of when they started and ended work – perhaps taking half an hour in the morning to bring children to school and compensating by staying half an hour late, or skipping lunch break to leave early for a personal appointment.

And demands for hybrid work may be rooted in time flexibility rather than location flexibility – we’re just not seeing it because flexibility of location often entails flexibility of time.

Concentrate on the work at hand rather than the activities around it

When leaders and managers resist hybrid work, it is frequently due to a deep-seated fear that employees will not work without a boss watching them. And, according to various surveys conducted between now and 2022, it’s not totally unwarranted: remote workers do spend varying amounts of time on non-work-related activities during work hours.

However, pre-pandemic surveys show that office workers spend just as much time – anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours – on non-work activities.

The lesson here appears to be those non-work activities will occur regardless of whether people are in the office, and leaders and managers should focus on the actual work being done.

HR Technology News: Three Categories Sum Up Employee Work Expectations In The Evolving Hybrid Workplace

People are still extremely productive in the hybrid model

Possibly the most important takeaway from 2022’s hybrid work experience is that people can and do work even when they are not physically in the office.

Over the last three years, research has repeatedly shown that productivity does not decrease when a worker transitions from in-office to remote or hybrid work. It rises in the majority of cases, and when it does not, it is usually because the person’s job requires more collaboration than remote work can provide.


The hybrid model is no longer a viable employment option. It’s not going anywhere. Nevertheless, as with any working model, there are benefits and drawbacks. As an HR manager, you should fulfill your employees’ needs or run the risk of losing them to competitors.

Whatever hybrid shape and form your organization takes, it’s important to remember that it’s your purpose that forms and drives growth and the employee experience. That’s what needs to sparkle through in every aspect of your collaboration, whether in person or online.

As you reflect on the lessons you’ve learned on your own hybrid journey, consider whether things would have been different if you’d started with a clear goal in mind.

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