3 Outcomes of Leveraging Hybrid & Remote Work for Talent Retention

Talent retention and talent attraction are major concerns in our current landscape. As such, hybrid or remote work can be a strategy to use.

| January 12, 2022

Executives have thought about remote work for two years now. At first, the question was, “How do we coordinate remote teams effectively?” Then it became, “When can we get back to the office?” Now, as we head toward our second year of pandemic restrictions on public life, the question has changed again: “Should we go back at all?” 

The biotech leaders we work with have a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. Some work, like lab-based R&D, requires hands-on pipettes. Like global sales or logistics, other work is smoother and more efficient with distributed teams. And most traditional offices are slowly transforming into hybrid work environments, blending remote meetings with specific hours, days, or weeks of face-to-face office time. Getting that blend right is important: as we can attest, flexibility around commuting, Covid-19 safety, and hours are deciding factors for many employees seeking new jobs or thinking about leaving current ones. 

Across biotech and pharma, and at every level of our clients’ organizations, we’ve seen three clear conclusions about leveraging hybrid work to attract and retain talent. Get these right, and you’ll be setting your company up for long-term stability and success. 

1. The genie is out of the bottle

First, some form of hybrid work is a must. 39% of American employees are already considering handing in their resignation if their office(s) end remote or hybrid work arrangements. Among younger workers, that number is closer to 50%. The most common reasons are commute time, cost savings, time with family, and exposure to Covid-19, according to remote-hiring site FlexJobs. Every CEO candidate we interview mentions how much they appreciate having extra time with partners and children. Norms and expectations have simply shifted, and there’s no going back. 

That doesn’t mean that every position needs to be a fully remote “anywhere job,” full-time and year-round. And, hybrid work models will generally work best for most businesses. This is because hybrid work allows for greater flexibility and lets managers and operational leaders leverage the benefits of both remote and in-person work. 

Some of the advantages of remote work are straightforward: substantial potential for cost savings on office space, the ability to quickly and easily orchestrate projects through short meetings and shared online spaces, flexibility for travel and fieldwork, more options for childcare.  

Others, though, are less expected. Remote workers are more productive, for instance. Studies vary on the scale of the improvement – some say 13%, others 50% or more – but most people get more done from home, most of the time. It also has a powerful democratizing effect for some workplaces because hybrid work allows employees who might otherwise struggle with commuting, unwelcoming office environments, or other distractions to focus on the job. These are all vital benefits and have the indirect effects of improving employee well-being and increasing employee loyalty.  

By contrast, in-person work is best for specific kinds of tasks. For example, long, data-heavy meetings – like Board meetings – are far more effective when everyone is in the same room. Sustained attention is simpler, sharing complex information is easier and more consistent, and fraught decisions can be made faster and more confidently. Similarly, sharing space allows for small, everyday experiences that build trust and a culture of openness between team members.

2. Do your research

Even if every company needs a hybrid plan, that doesn’t mean all hybrid strategies should be the same. The specific talent pool you’re drawing on should shape the details of the work environment you create: the ratio of time spent in-office and remote, which meetings fall into which categories, how working hours are counted and where flexibility is and isn’t permitted. 

Your goal should be to make your employees happy. Happy employees create a positive, productive work environment and are less likely to leave their jobs. Use data-collection tools, multiple forms of feedback, and various points of follow-up to assess each team’s remote work needs and preferences and find ways to meet them. 

3. Communicate expectations 

Finally, once you’ve developed a hybrid plan that maximizes the benefits of both in-person and at-home work, make that plan clear. Over the last six months, many large companies have attempted to shift back to full-time or part-time in the office but have given insufficient notice or offered poor clarity around expectations. 

Holding meetings that are partly in-person and partly hybrid is typically a bad idea, conducive to inequalities and fractured decision-making. And if some employees have flexible at-home schedules while others are spending eight or more hours in the office, it can be hard to ensure that everyone is online at the precise moments they need to coordinate. As a result, some companies are experimenting with “core hours” – periods of the day when all employees must be actively engaged and available. Others are dividing hybrid plans by days or re-organizing teams to fit new schedules. 

Regardless of the details, well-designed hybrid plans offer tremendous cost savings, performance increases, and work-culture improvements. They are and will remain a central element of retaining top talent.


For more information, please contact Chiara Brega, Head of Delivery, Europe at Cbrega@lifescisearch.com.

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