The Secret to Making Your Employees Happy and Engaged With Hybrid Work

5 min read
Engaged With Hybrid Work

Imagine a world where each morning, you wake up knowing your work schedule fits perfectly with your life’s rhythm. This is not a distant utopia; it’s a practical reality within grasp. Recent surveys by Boston Consulting Group and Gallup illuminate a profound truth: when teams have a say in their hybrid work policy, employee satisfaction and engagement soar.

Choice Offers the Key to Be Engaged With Hybrid Work

The Boston Consulting Group’s report unveils a critical disconnect in many organizations, highlighting a significant issue in the modern workplace. A staggering 62% of employees feel voiceless regarding their work model policy, indicating a severe lack of agency. This isn’t just a minor inconvenience; it’s a major source of dissatisfaction, deeply impacting employee morale and commitment. 

The data reveals a significant disparity: 24% of employees are unhappy when their work location is dictated by the company, a stark contrast to the 14% if the manager decides and a mere 6% dissatisfaction rate when teams are empowered to make this decision. This contrast is not just a set of figures; it represents a fundamental truth about human psychology in the workplace. Proximity to decision-making is strongly correlated with contentment, indicating that employees value the feeling of control over their work environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the landscape of work, turning remote work from an exception to a normative model. This shift isn’t merely a logistical change; it’s a transformation that challenges traditional notions of work and management. In this new era, leaders must recognize the symbolic significance of flexible work policies. These decisions reflect the organization’s core values, particularly its commitment to trust and accountability. In a work culture where decisions are imposed, often without consideration for individual needs, engagement and productivity are likely to falter. However, when employees are part of the decision-making process, it not only boosts their satisfaction but also reflects an organizational culture that values its workforce as key stakeholders.

The implications of these findings are profound, especially when considering the current and future job market. According to the Boston Consulting Group survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents – nine out of ten – consider flexible work options a critical factor in their job selection process. This statistic is a clear indicator of the changing priorities in the workforce. Moreover, the survey sheds light on a worrying trend for employers: dissatisfaction with work models significantly increases the likelihood of employees leaving their jobs. Those who are unhappy with their flexible work options are more than 2.5 times more likely to consider quitting within the next year. This data isn’t just a cautionary tale; it’s a clarion call for organizations to rethink their approach to work flexibility.

The Power of Being Engaged With Hybrid Work

Gallup’s research offers crucial insights into the dynamics of employee engagement in the context of hybrid work models. Their findings serve as a vital complement to the earlier narrative about employee satisfaction and decision-making. According to Gallup, when teams are involved in collaboratively setting their hybrid schedules, engagement levels reach an impressive peak of 46%. This statistic is not just a number; it represents a significant insight into employee morale and productivity. When individuals have a say in their work schedules, they feel more valued and empowered, leading to higher levels of engagement.

The difference in engagement levels becomes even more pronounced when compared to other decision-making models. For instance, when individuals make these decisions independently, the engagement rate stands at 41%. While this is still a commendable figure, it falls short of the engagement achieved through collective decision-making. The most striking contrast is seen when top leadership dictates hybrid work schedules, resulting in a notably lower engagement rate of 34%. This sharp drop-off highlights a fundamental truth about the modern workforce: employees crave not only flexibility but also collaborative decision-making. They desire a work environment where their voices are heard and their preferences are considered.

This craving for a sense of control and collaboration extends beyond mere scheduling preferences. Gallup’s research further reveals that a vast majority of remote-capable employees – nine in ten – express a preference for some degree of remote work flexibility. This overwhelming majority underscores the fact that remote work, once considered an exception, has now become a central expectation in the modern workplace. Moreover, the majority of these employees favor a hybrid model, blending the benefits of remote and in-office work. This preference for hybrid work illustrates a desire for a balanced approach, one that offers the autonomy of remote work while retaining the structure and community of in-office interactions.

The implications of these preferences are profound, especially in terms of employee retention. Gallup’s findings indicate that three in ten hybrid workers are extremely likely to leave their organization if they are not offered at least some degree of remote flexibility. This statistic is a stark reminder of the evolving priorities of the workforce. In the current job market, where talent retention is more crucial than ever, offering remote flexibility is not just a perk; it’s a strategic necessity. Organizations that fail to adapt to these changing preferences risk losing valuable talent.

For example, consider Atlassian as one company that gets it. They allow their teams the flexibility to decide when to come to the office. Their research shows that 92% of their employees say their flexible distributed work policy allows them to do their best work, and 91% report it’s an important reason for why they stay at Atlassian. Teams generally meet together in the office every several months, focusing on social bonding activities; Atlassian finds that such in-person gatherings boost by 27% a sense of connection between team members. This boost lasts 4-5 months, with the biggest boost for new hires.

Addressing Cognitive Biases Blocking Team Decision Making

When considering the shift towards hybrid work models where teams play a pivotal role in decision-making, it’s essential to understand the impact of certain cognitive biases, particularly status quo bias and loss aversion. Status quo bias, the tendency to prefer current situations and resist changes, significantly affects this transition. In many organizations, there’s a natural inclination to stick with the traditional, office-centric work models because they are familiar and seemingly less risky. This bias can hinder the adoption of flexible, team-driven work policies that evidence suggests could lead to increased employee satisfaction and engagement. 

Simultaneously, loss aversion, which is the tendency to prioritize avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains, plays a critical role. In the context of hybrid work policies, this often manifests in a fear among leaders of losing control over their teams. They might disproportionately focus on potential downsides of a hybrid model, like reduced oversight, while underestimating the benefits such as improved morale and productivity. This conservative approach, driven by an overemphasis on perceived risks rather than potential advantages, can prevent organizations from adopting more efficient and fulfilling work models. 

Overcoming these biases is vital for successfully implementing hybrid work environments where teams have a significant say in their work arrangements. Recognizing and addressing these psychological barriers is key to developing work policies that align with modern workforce expectations and contribute to higher levels of employee engagement and retention.

The Implications for Leaders

As a leader in the evolving landscape of work, understanding the shift towards team-decided hybrid work policies is crucial. This movement represents more than a trend; it’s a fundamental change in the way work is structured and managed. Gone are the days when top-down mandates on work models were the norm. The new era demands a different kind of leadership – one that is attentive, empathetic, and empowering. As I tell my clients during management training sessions on hybrid work, this shift isn’t merely about improving employee morale; it’s a strategic imperative to enhance productivity, retain top talent, and foster a culture rich in trust and autonomy.

For leaders, this shift signifies a departure from traditional management styles. It’s no longer about exerting control in the conventional sense. Instead, it’s about redefining the notion of control. This new paradigm involves creating a framework that allows teams to function autonomously within the broader objectives of the organization. This model requires a delicate balance. On one hand, it’s essential to maintain consistency and fairness across the organization. On the other, it’s crucial to allow flexibility and customization at the team level. This balance ensures that while teams enjoy the autonomy to decide their work models, they remain aligned with the organization’s overall goals and values.

The path forward, however, is not devoid of challenges. Adopting a team-decided hybrid work policy requires a significant shift in mindset. Leaders must transition from a command-and-control approach to one that prioritizes collaboration and trust. This change involves more than just a policy overhaul; it requires a cultural transformation within the organization. Leaders need to actively foster an environment where open communication, collaborative decision-making, and mutual trust are the cornerstones.

To effectively navigate this transition, leaders must equip their teams with the necessary tools and skills. This involves providing clear communication about the objectives and boundaries of the new work model. Teams should be trained in collaborative decision-making processes, ensuring that every member feels heard and valued. Additionally, establishing robust mechanisms for feedback and adjustment is critical. These mechanisms allow teams to refine their work models continually, based on real-world experiences and outcomes.

The role of the leader in this new era is to be a facilitator and enabler. It’s about empowering teams to take charge of their work environments while providing guidance and support. This approach not only leads to higher employee satisfaction and engagement but also drives innovation and creativity. When teams feel a sense of ownership over their work models, they are more likely to be invested in their work and committed to the organization’s success.


The path to a more satisfied and engaged workforce in the hybrid work era is clear. Give teams the reins to decide their work policies. This approach is not just about appeasing employees; it’s a strategic imperative. In a world where talent is the most valuable currency, organizations that empower their employees will thrive. The choice is yours: cling to outdated models or embrace a future where your team’s satisfaction and engagement are the cornerstones of your success.

Key Take-Away

Empower teams to be engaged with hybrid work for heightened satisfaction and productivity. Giving employees a say in their work arrangements boosts engagement. Click To Tweet

Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio/pexels

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at