‘Win-win-win': Three-day hybrid work week is a success, largest study to date published in Nature says

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  • The largest study to date of hybrid work among knowledge professionals shows that a three-day in-office schedule performs as well if not better than fully in-office work.
  • Resignations decline by as much as one-third, while employee performance and satisfaction are equal to or better than the traditional pre-Covid work schedule.
  • The study was conducted by Nicholas Bloom, a well known Stanford University work researcher, alongside Chinese co-authors, and covered workers at's Shanghai office.

The three-day in-office hybrid work schedule is a "win-win-win," according to a study published in the prestigious science journal Nature. 

In the study, Nick Bloom from Stanford's Institute for Economic Policy Research — a highly regarded expert on work modes who has been researching remote productivity since well before the pandemic — provided concrete evidence for the benefits of hybrid work.

Bloom has previously argued that hybrid work benefits both employees and employers and has continued to advise employers to offer more flexible work arrangements as more companies call employees back to the office.  

The study from Bloom and co-authors, Ruobing Han and James Liang, is the largest to date on the benefits of hybrid work among university-trained professionals, and largest covering hybrid work to use a randomized control trial structure, considered the "gold standard" in experimental design. It involved 1,612 employees at, a multinational Chinese technology firm, and took place across six months to analyze job retention, satisfaction, productivity and development, The study used a two-day-at-home work week because it is the primary structure for the 70% of global employees working on a hybrid schedule. Bloom estimates that about 100 million employees worldwide now have some form of a hybrid schedule, many in knowledge worker roles.

The data shows that the three-day in-office hybrid work approach improved retention and satisfaction, and resulted in equal employee success across creative and team-oriented employees in functions like marketing, finance and engineering — which often offer hybrid structures.

Non-manager attrition for hybrid employees had a 2.4% rate, a one-third reduction from the control group of 7.2%. Women, non-managers, and long-distance (over 90-minute) commuters were especially motivated to stay in a job role rather than quit with the hybrid arrangement, supporting a basic premise that eliminating long commutes, reducing household stress and improving work-life balance improves retention. Women, however, were less likely to volunteer to work hybrid and feared workplace judgement, the study found.

On measures of employee satisfaction, hybrid employees had significantly higher anonymous self-reported scores on work-life balance and life satisfaction, and were also more likely to recommend the workplace to others. They also had lower scores in "reasons to quit." had no hybrid policy when it began the six-month experiment in 2021, which included 395 managers and 1,217 non-managers with undergraduate degrees across engineering, marketing, accounting, and finance located at the company's Shanghai office. Roughly one-third (32%) of the study participants also had post-graduate degrees, primarily in computer science, accounting or finance. Most participants were in their 30s, one-half had children, and the majority (65%) were male.

Transitioning out of the Covid pandemic, executives have feared declines in employee productivity, development and creativity/innovation, and have ordered a full return-to-office in some cases. Boeing, UPS, Nike and JPMorgan Chase are among firms where a stricter returns-to-office mandate has been imposed. A variety of reasons may contribute to these decisions, from C-suite belief in traditional office culture having high value to safety and a slumping stock price. Nike's CEO recently blamed work-from-home for a lack of innovation at the company. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has been opposed to an overemphasis on remote work for years, especially for management roles, though he has allowed that some functions may produce on an effective basis remotely.

Many executives have argued that work functions in finance, marketing and engineering would be executed poorly at home, relying on contradictory data from studies on entirely remote offices. A University of Pittsburgh study found that struggling companies may use the remote work argument as a scapegoat, and advocate for in-person collaboration as a linchpin of productive workplaces. This study proves that a hybrid schedule, at least, does not affect performance.    

In the study, there was no significant difference between hybrid and in-person employee performance reviews. When managers measured employees in nine categories of performance, execution and results, hybrid employees succeeded at the same rate. Even in soft skills, including innovation, hybrid employees succeeded equally. Among hybrid and in-person computer engineers, there was no significant difference in the number of lines of code submitted each day, a critical performance measure.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who had embraced remote work with conviction during the pandemic, has more recently called employees back three days a week.

By the end of the experiment, managers positively viewed hybrid work as a potential asset to the company rather than a detriment to productivity.

"This study offers powerful evidence for why 80 percent of U.S. companies now offer some form of remote work and for why the remaining 20 percent of firms that don't are likely paying a price," Bloom said in a statement. "If managed right, letting employees work from home two or three days a week still gets you the level of mentoring, culture-building, and innovation that you want. From an economic policymaking standpoint, hybrid work is one of the few instances where there aren't major trade-offs with clear winners and clear losers. There are almost only winners."

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