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Bosses are having the hardest time adjusting to hybrid work—here's why

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Remote work may have taken off four years ago, but the evolution of hybrid work is still in its early days — and senior leaders are having the hardest time adjusting.

A majority, 74%, of companies have changed their hybrid work policy more than once since 2020, according to an April survey of 2,556 workers around the world by Lucid Software, which makes digital collaboration tools.

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That share reflects organizations that have added in-office days, scaled them back, or both, "and I don't think we're done yet," says Dave Grow, CEO of Lucid.

As of April, most people, 67%, reported being satisfied with their hybrid work policy. But those who aren't satisfied are willing to go to drastic measures to find a better fit: 20% of global workers say they've considered quitting their job because of their current hybrid setup.

Big challenges for the leaders who set hybrid policies

Happy or not, workers admit big pain points persist, with productivity being their No. 1 biggest challenge with hybrid work. Many say they don't have the right technology or training to work well with their team members across different locations, which stifles their innovation. Less than half of U.S. workers say their workplace has hybrid meeting and working guidelines to begin with.

Meanwhile, miscommunication and feeling disconnected from colleagues are their biggest frustrations with hybrid schedules.

Workers at the top of organizations — the ones setting rules around hybrid work — are struggling the most with it, according to the survey. Managers and department heads are the most likely group to say they experience "hybrid whiplash" due to changing policies, while executives struggle the most with staying motivated through hybrid changes.

Working in a hybrid setting may be more challenging for leaders who oversee many team members if they don't have good systems in place to gauge productivity. It can also be tough to work across departments if hybrid communication tools (and guidelines) aren't in place.

The fact that "executives who are often the ones setting the policy still have a relatively high level of dissatisfaction is indicative that we have not gotten to the right end state" of how to operate in a hybrid workplace effectively, Grow says.

Many acknowledge that they don't have the "perfect solution" to make everyone happy and enable great work. Despite the challenges, adding more in-office days isn't necessarily the solution to overcoming hybrid challenges, Grow adds.

Research shows hybrid work may have more benefits than being fully in-office

New research supports the benefits of making hybrid work: A recent study (the largest of hybrid work to date) indicates that three days working from an office with two at home resulted in higher employee performance, satisfaction and retention compared with a full week in the office.

To better adjust to a hybrid workplace, leaders should rethink how work gets done, and they should become comfortable with new measures of productivity and success. Measuring productivity will look different for every organization, but for Grow's team, it means reaching goals through cross-collaborative initiatives instead of focusing on only the achievements of siloed teams.

To improve teamwork across hybrid teams, Grow says, decisionmakers should "focus more on enablement and training" with the "right resources, tools and expectations."

For example, just 24% of entry-level workers feel they've been adequately trained in hybrid collaboration; meanwhile, 39% of executives say they've created guidelines and 34% have provided training for their employees.

Guidelines and training should cover the basics of what tools people use to communicate, the best practices for hybrid meetings, and how to work well with colleagues whether they're in the office or remote.

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