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New Study Shows Why Many Hybrid Work Plans Fail: Poor Communication

With half of employees saying they don't understand their organization's hybrid policy, companies are wise to go the extra mile to clarify their guidelines and expectations.

A group of people sitting at a desk with a computer screen showing a video conference.

​As companies continue to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of work, the hybrid workplace model has emerged as a popular solution. This model allows for a combination of remote and in-person work, giving employees the flexibility to work from anywhere while still maintaining the benefits of working in an office environment. However, in order for this model to be successful, it is essential that companies communicate effectively about their hybrid workplace policies to their staff.

According to a recent survey conducted by Fishbowl of 7,300 professionals, it's a near-even split: 50.8 percent of professionals understand their company's hybrid-work plan and 49.2 percent do not. This suggests there may be a significant number of employees who are uncertain about the specifics of their company's approach to hybrid work.

As a consultant who has worked with companies to implement hybrid models, I can attest to the importance of clear and effective communication when it comes to this type of work arrangement. In my experience, companies that fail to communicate effectively about their hybrid workplace policies often struggle to achieve the desired results and may even experience negative consequences.

One example is a mid-size IT services company that implemented a hybrid workplace model without clearly communicating the expectations and guidelines to their employees. As a result, many employees felt uncertain about when and where they were expected to work, leading to confusion and decreased productivity. The company ultimately had to spend valuable time and resources re-communicating the policies and re-training employees, causing a major setback in their transition to a hybrid workplace model.

Another example is a large financial services company that made the decision to transition to a hybrid workplace model without taking into account the diverse needs and preferences of their employees. The company's one-size-fits-all approach led to frustration among employees, and ultimately resulted in high turnover rates and a decrease in employee satisfaction.

In both cases, the lack of clear communication about the hybrid workplace model led to negative consequences for the companies and their employees. However, by taking the time to effectively communicate expectations and guidelines, companies can avoid these issues and instead reap the benefits of a hybrid workplace model.

Effective communication about a hybrid workplace model involves clearly outlining the expectations and guidelines for employees, as well as providing the necessary resources and support for them to succeed in this new work arrangement. This includes providing clear guidelines for when and where employees are expected to work, as well as any rules and regulations that must be followed. It also means providing employees with the necessary tools and resources to work remotely, such as access to secure networks and collaboration software.

Cognitive biases can also play a role in how companies communicate about their hybrid workplace model, and how employees interpret and respond to that communication. For example, the illusion of transparency can lead companies to assume that employees will automatically understand and adapt to a new hybrid workplace model, without clearly communicating the expectations and guidelines. Confirmation bias can also lead companies to only seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs about the hybrid workplace model, rather than experimenting with various options and choosing one that fits their needs most effectively.

It is important for leaders to be aware of these cognitive biases and to make a conscious effort to overcome them when communicating about a hybrid workplace model. This includes being open to feedback and perspectives from employees and being willing to make adjustments as needed.

The success of a hybrid workplace model depends heavily on clear and effective communication. By taking the time to clearly outline expectations and guidelines, provide necessary resources, and be aware of cognitive biases, companies can ensure that their employees feel supported and empowered in this new work arrangement. As the survey conducted by Fishbowl shows, many companies still have a long way to go in effectively communicating about their hybrid workplace model.


This article was written by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to


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