Modern scientific studies indicate the rules that must be followed in order for work in mixed mode to be optimal. (Photo: Faizur Rahman for Unsplash)
Damn job! The section where Olivier Schmucker answers your most interesting questions [et les plus pertinentes] About the modern business world… and of course its shortcomings. Appointment to read Tuesday And the Thursday. Would you like to participate? Send us your question to [email protected]
Q: “Like many companies, we have been operating in hybrid mode since the end of the pandemic (four days in the office, one day working remotely). This seems to be the best way to work, and is ideal for the well-being and productivity of employees. But I find that it doesn’t work: I always feel a high level of stress in everyone. How do we explain this puzzle? -Elizabeth
A: Dear Elizabeth, I’m reading a really great book called “Stress at Work.” against. “Work Stress” by Sonia Lupyan. The author, a full professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine, did me a favor: she sent me her latest work even before it went to print; it will be in bookstores at the beginning of November. And there’s a passage that answers your question Let’s look at this together.
Recently, there have been many studies on different working methods: 100% office, 100% remote work, 50% office, 50% remote work, etc. These studies have examined a thousand and one aspects: individual productivity, group performance, effects on well-being, and so on. Sonia Lupyan presents an illuminating synthesis from which valuable lessons emerge.
Therefore, for mixed mode to work well, it must be structured. This means that it must be based on four basic rules, inspired by the work of Nicholas Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University, in the United States:
-Docking days. All team members must come into the office on the same days of the week. Because it is necessary for everyone to meet others in person. These common days spent in the office are referred to as “installation days.”
– Surface work. Installation days should be used mainly for “surface works”. These are tasks that do not require intense or even maximum concentration on the part of the employee. This may include, among other things, formal and informal meetings, processing of emails, or even training programmes.
– In-depth work. Remote work days should be used to implement “deep work.” This means performing tasks that require intense concentration and that must be tackled one by one (multitasking should be avoided altogether, as it always backfires, she stresses).
Important point: To maintain optimal concentration, any possibility of discomfort should be avoided. That’s why Sonia Lupyan highly recommends turning off your cell phone, closing your email inbox, and blocking all notifications from your computer. The idea is as simple as it is radical: so we must isolate ourselves from the world, in the literal sense of the word.
Of course, the pressure expert knows very well that not everyone can achieve this. When you work from home, kids (or pets) can be a source of disruption, or it can be difficult to cut off all communication with your boss. In such a scenario, it may still be possible to isolate yourself from others for at least half an hour or an hour, and repeat this several times in the same day. It’s better than nothing.
– Special case. For young recruits (less than two years of professional experience), it is appropriate to add an extra day to be in the office compared to others. Because this can be an opportunity for them, among other things, to receive mentoring and develop their network of contacts within the organization.
That’s not all. Scientific studies indicate that remote work has positive effects on mental health, but on the condition that it does not exceed a total of 15 hours per week. This means that the ideal situation is to have 15 hours of remote work per week, no more. This equates to two days a week.
So, Elizabeth, you don’t have the perfect formula for mixed mode. In your home, everyone has one remote work day per week. This is good, but it would be much better to have two (except for young recruits, for whom one day of remote work per week is optimal), ensuring that everyone gets the same two days of the week (as required by the first (Aphorisms inspired by Nicholas Bloom). Tangentially, this could make a big difference to your employees’ mental health: the relationship between the number of hours spent working remotely and the benefits of remote work on mental health forms an inverted U-shaped curve, with the peak of the curve corresponding to 15 hours.
So. I hope these little bits of science allow you to improve your formula for working in mixed mode, Elizabeth. Because these highlight the fact that we can really improve everyone’s stress level in their daily work, just by making a few adjustments to the way we work. In doing so, allow everyone to improve their well-being.
Incidentally, the French writer Honoré de Balzac said in “La Peau de Chagrin”: “Is not the goal of society to provide well-being for all?”
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