Future of Work News

Employee Relationships Are Key to Hybrid Work Success


One of the objections some companies – especially many of those striving to lure workers back into the office full-time – have against remote work is that working relationships aren’t as healthy in remote and hybrid models. While the jury may still be out about 100 percent remote workers, new research suggests that hybrid workers have working relationships with their peers that are just as good as relationships among full-time onsite workers. It stands to reason, though, that even for fully remote workers, similar theories apply and strong, positive relationships create better working environments.

Good working relationships are critical for employee retention. People who have strong enough work friendships that they would remain friends if they weren’t co-workers are less likely to leave their jobs. A new study from Qualtrics shows that just 23 percent of workers with close friends at work are planning to leave within the next six months, compared to 29 percent of those who don’t have close work friends. And 35 percent of employees said that the people they work with are part of their decision to stay – second only to being happy with their current responsibilities.

“The relationships we form at work play a very real role in our lives, whether it’s commiserating over a tough challenge or celebrating a team win,” said Dr. Benjamin Granger, chief workplace psychologist at Qualtrics. “Even as the way we work changes, the impact of having these social connections is clear. Fostering an environment that encourages and enables people to get to know one another makes for happier employees and can lessen turnover.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, has largely wiped out traditional water-cooler socializing. For this reason, company managers have had to strive hard to ensure that workers remain connected and integrated. Intentional efforts by leaders of remote and hybrid environments are paying off, and work remains a source of friendships. Just over half (51 percent) of workers say their workplace offers ways to find and connect with colleagues with similar interests. This is even more common among remote and hybrid workers, with 65 percent saying it’s a practice within their companies. For on-site workers it’s nearly reversed, with 63 percent saying their workplace does not have such offerings.

Edited by Erik Linask

Future of Work Contributor

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