Starting November 1, Hachette will require employees to be in the office at a minimum of two days a week, following the HBG (Hachette Book Group) hybrid method that was implemented back in April 2022. CEO Michael Pietsch explained that employees can work the full five days if they choose. Sales representatives, who worked from home before the pandemic, will continue to do so.

“In addition,” wrote Calvin Reid of Publisher’s Weekly, “HBG is implementing a new policy called Flex Four, which will give all HBG full-time staff the opportunity for up to four weeks a year of full-time work from home.” Some staff exceptions apply, such as those who work in the warehouses.

Hachette will also forgo required proof of the COVID-19 vaccination for employees and visitors. The vaccine, as well as mask wearing, is still encouraged.

“We believe that there is great value, for our business and for our colleagues, in working together in person some days each week,” Pietsch wrote in a letter to Hachette’s staff. According to Pietsch, the employees grow professionally better when there is a hybrid model in place.

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From a 2022 global study conducted by Gartner, a research and advisory firm, about 25% of workers feel connected to their company’s culture when working remote or hybrid. Yet, given the dangers of COVID-19 and its lingering presence, it can be a health risk to tell employees to return to office full-time, argues the Harvard Business Review.

Though a company’s culture, according to HBR’s article “Revitalizing Culture in the World of Hybrid Work”, is hurt when its employees are forced back into the work environment. When employees have the option of working from home or office, their ambition to work improves.

“Among employees with “radical flexibility” (defined as considerable freedom over location, schedule, work volume, team, and projects), 53% reported a high degree of connectedness,” Alexia Cambon, a Gartner research director and author of the workplace study, explains. “Whereas just 18% of those with low flexibility did so.”

Even though remote has work limitations, such as the “awkwardness of communicating exclusively via screen, the need to schedule conversations rather than having a quick word, the pileup of work that takes longer than in the past, the physical and psychological stresses of isolation and long hours on video calls,” it has its benefits too. Avoiding travel expenses, spending time with loved ones, and even working in your pajamas.

The hybrid work model somehow balances itself between both pros of remote and in-person work.

Yet, there is a passion that arises with in-person work environments, such as enhanced engagement and collaboration. There is no need to schedule a quick conversation that can be had by the water cooler.

“We are a publishing company,” Pietsch wrote to his employees, “and that second word really matters: we are better and stronger in each other’s company, and we serve our authors and customers best when we have the full benefits of the close work we are able to do in person.”

Sources & Additional Reading:

Harvard Business Review: Revitalizing Culture in the World of Hybrid Work

Publisher’s Weekly: HBG Hybrid Plan

Hachette Requires Two Days in Office