Working in a virtual workplace has many benefits, but it can also make it more difficult to build rapport with your colleagues.
The Hybrid Work Model: Revolutionizing the Workplace
Hybrid work is transforming offices around the world. Get tips on how to make the switch and see the benefits of a more flexible, productive workforce.
The traditional workplace is changing. Employees are no longer content with working nine to five in an office cubicle. They want more flexibility and freedom regarding where and how they work. And thanks to the hybrid work model, that dream can become a reality.
What is hybrid work?
Hybrid work is a relatively new term to describe a work model that incorporates both in-office and remote work. The model in and of itself is flexible, making it a prime candidate for a wide-range of companies looking to transform their workplace.
While one hybrid company may require two in-office days a week, others may entirely do away with required minimums. In either case, the goal remains the same; to support a healthier and more productive relationship between your employees and their work.
Hybrid work is on the rise
Over the past two years, we have seen a major attitude shift regarding the traditional workplace and full-time office requirements. And while this shift was in motion prior to the 2020 pandemic, it rapidly accelerated as offices were forced to close and a significant percentage of the workforce began to experience the benefits of working from home.
Now, once seen as a perk, workplace flexibility has become the norm, one that employees are not keen on giving up. And it’s not just millennials leading this charge – we are seeing a rise in hybrid work across all age groups.
In fact, according to a 2021 survey from Owl Labs, 70% of the respondents wanted the option to work hybrid or remote. And 1 in 4 of those respondents went as far as saying they would quit their jobs if not given that flexibility.
As an employer, it is critical to understand the reasons behind its rising popularity and consider the potential consequences organizations may face if they refuse to facilitate a more flexible workplace.
In the years to come, we can expect to see even more companies transitioning to a hybrid work model as employees continue to demand greater flexibility and freedom in their work lives.
Employee benefits of hybrid work
One of the most apparent benefits an employee gains from a hybrid work model is the flexibility to work wherever they feel most comfortable and productive. Other noteworthy benefits include a better work-life balance, reduced stress and anxiety, and even increased productivity.
With hybrid work, employees are no longer tied to their desks in an office cubicle. Instead, they have the freedom to choose which location supports their best work.
For some, this may be a home office with a furry companion cozied up next to their feet. Others may feel their most productive when enveloped by the invigorating wafts of caffeinated beans at their local coffee shop. And for those who enjoy conversing by the water cooler, or an intense whiteboarding session, the office is their ideal destination.
Better work-life balance
In a traditional workplace, employees are expected to be in the office eight hours a day, five days a week. Add in lunch breaks, conversations with co-workers on the way out of the office, and lengthy commutes, and the forty-hour workweek quickly turns into fifty or more.
For many, this leaves only a handful of hours each day for a laundry list of home responsibilities. It is any wonder that a 2019 survey from Gallup revealed that 76% of employees had experienced burnout at some point in time?
With a hybrid work model, employees can choose the days they would like to work from home, giving them more control over their time. Because while work still takes up a significant part of their day, short breaks to throw a ball for a pet, start a load of laundry or help their child with a homework problem may help them feel more like their time between work and home is better balanced.
Ultimately, a hybrid schedule allows your employees to split time between work and home duties more efficiently, leaving them less overwhelmed, more productive, and better connected to those they love.
Reduced stress and anxiety
In addition to a better work-life balance, hybrid work can help reduce the stress and anxiety experienced throughout the day. A break from agonizing rush hour traffic and pressure to swap out pajama pants for slacks are two examples that resonate with most people.
Many parents of young children are more than happy to ditch the morning scramble of getting kids fed, dressed, and off to daycare. Not to mention the financial stress relief that comes with reducing the cost of childcare. For parents of fur babies, work-from-home days offer an excellent opportunity to enjoy the mood-boosting benefits that come from spending time with their four-legged companions while also avoiding any potential separation anxiety.
For others, the fear of getting sick or bringing home germs to immunocompromised family members can be overwhelming. When provided with the option to work from home, they can focus on the task at hand instead of dealing with anxiety every time they hear a co-worker sneeze.
Finally, one of the most oft-cited benefits of hybrid work is increased productivity. There may be various reasons for this, such as having fewer distractions, an optimized workspace, or simply being in a calmer and thus more productive mood.
But remember, the key to this productivity is not tied directly to working from home. Some employees may find themselves more motivated when they stick to a routine that includes dress shoes and an office environment.
That is the magic of a hybrid workforce. When you empower your employees to decide where they do their best work, you are setting them, and the entire company, up for success.
Employer benefits of hybrid work
The hybrid work model is a popular topic not only amongst employees but many employers as well. And for a good reason. By giving your team the flexibility to choose where they work best, employers can save on costs, increase retention rates, and more easily attract top talent.
One of the primary benefits for employers is the potential cost savings. With a hybrid work model, offices inevitably experience fewer daily visitors than a traditional workplace requiring their employees to be physically present during work hours. Consequently, many hybrid workplaces may find that they can significantly reduce the space, equipment, and supplies necessary to accommodate their team.
Research from McKinsey & Company found that, over time, a hybrid work model could result in real estate cost savings of as much as 30%.
Additionally, a hybrid workforce model may decrease sick leave, saving the company additional money. In instances where employees would typically call in sick to avoid spreading germs to co-workers, some may decide they feel well enough to work remotely.
In the same vein, permitting employees to work from home may also prevent instances where an ill employee feels pressured to come into the office for fear of consequences, dramatically decreasing the chance of an illness spreading throughout the workplace.
Finland saw an overall drop of 30% in employee sick days in 2020, after their government encouraged people to work from home when possible. And the decrease was as high as 50% among civil servants and government employees.
However, it is essential to note that while a significant decrease in employee sick days may seem financially helpful in the short term, it should not come at the expense of your team's health. Make sure you are encouraging employees to take the necessary time to recover so that your team can stay healthy and productive in the long term.
Increased retention rates
As we continue to see employee resignations hit record levels throughout much of the world, companies are desperate to implement solutions that improve the employee's experience and keep their workforce intact. Not surprisingly, hybrid work is becoming one of the most common ways to combat this global phenomenon that has earned the name "The Great Resignation."
A study by FlexJobs found that 78% of respondents said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had the option to work from home on occasion. A similar study done by Gartner found that 39% of surveyed employees would leave if their company implemented a 'hard return' to full-time office work.
Both of these studies suggest that employees have come to value the opportunity to work remotely over the past couple of years. And employers who provide this flexibility are more likely to retain their best talent.
Attract top talent
In addition to retaining current talent, adopting a hybrid work model can also increase a company's ability to attract new talent. And in today's uber-competitive employee market, it is crucial to do all you can to support your company's hiring goals.
Firstly, employing a hybrid workforce gives you access to a larger global talent pool instead of being constrained to candidates living near the office. Beyond that, flexible work has become one of the top sought-after benefits for job seekers, coming in at a close third following salary and work-life balance.
When interviewing for a job, it's not uncommon for candidates to ask if the company has a remote or hybrid work policy in place. If you don't offer employees a flexible work arrangement, you will most likely be at a disadvantage.
This is especially true when considering a recent survey of 1,500 business and IT decision-makers done by Riverbed, an information technology company. According to the results, 89% said they plan on investing in technology to support a hybrid workforce.
If this is any indication of company adoption worldwide, employers committed to a traditional workplace model will soon be outnumbered by forward-thinking companies revolutionizing the way they approach the physical office.
Choosing a hybrid work schedule
If your company is interested in transitioning to a more flexible workplace, you may be asking yourself which hybrid work schedule would work best for your team.
Fortunately, there are no set rules when it comes to building a schedule that fits your organization's needs. However, it is much easier to make a decision once you understand what those specific needs are.
To do this, we suggest sending out two separate hybrid work surveys, one for company managers and one for the rest of your team. These surveys should include questions that can help you gauge employee sentiment and pinpoint any potential challenges you may face during the transition.
With this data in hand, you can craft a hybrid work schedule that best supports the unique needs of your soon-to-be hybrid workforce. Need some ideas? Here are a few popular models that can give you an idea of where to start.
The remote first model encourages employees to work from home as often as they’d like while offering an office space for team activities, meetings, or events. It is ideal for companies with a large remote workforce or those looking to reduce their office footprint. When transitioning to a hybrid schedule focused heavily on working remotely, investing in technology to help your team stay connected is essential. (Some of our favorites are Slack, Zoom & Notion.)
Companies looking for a mix of remote and in-office work will benefit most from the office occasional model. This hybrid work schedule allows employees to split their workweek between home and in-person collaboration at the office.
Some companies may require a minimum number of days in-office but let each employee choose those days for themselves. Other companies may choose specific all-hands days to ensure the entire team spends time in the office together.
Ultimately, the specifics of the schedule should depend on the feedback from the hybrid work surveys. But no matter what you choose, the office occasional model will be much easier to implement if you have the right scheduling and space management tools in place.
If you or your management team firmly believe the office is a core part of your company culture, you may be more comfortable starting with the remote-friendly model. This schedule encourages employees to spend most of their time in the office while leaving room for the occasional work-from-home day.
The choice is yours. But whichever hybrid work schedule you choose, remember that it should be tailored to your organization's specific needs. With the right tools and communication channels in place, your team will be ready to take on the challenges (and rewards) of a hybrid workplace.
Managing the transition to hybrid work
Any time you introduce change to an organization, it can be a little tricky. This can be especially true in companies that employ a wide variety of strong opinions. But with a few simple tips, you can help avoid some major pitfalls and ensure that your entire team is getting the most out of your new hybrid work arrangement.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
One of the most important aspects of managing a successful transition to hybrid work is communication. This means communicating not only with management but with the entire team.
Ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the new schedule, why it is being implemented, and what is expected. If your team is spending most of their time working from home, encourage managers to regularly check in with their direct reports to make sure they are set up for success and prevent anyone from feeling isolated.
And remember, if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it. The beauty of a hybrid work model is that it can be adapted. Be sure to solicit feedback from employees often and use it to make necessary adjustments to the schedule.
Rethink the office space
The move to hybrid work is all about making work better for your team. Part of that process may also include rethinking your office space. Take some time to discuss the issue with your management team.
Here are a few questions you could pose:
- Is our office space optimized for the hybrid work policy you’ve created?
- Can we condense the size of the office and eliminate unnecessary equipment?
- Are we providing spaces that help facilitate employee collaboration?
- What amenities might encourage our employees to visit more often?
- Are there areas that could benefit from a more creative layout?
- What technologies will help bridge the gap between in-office and remote workers?
Rethinking your office approach can be a challenge, but it's an important step in the transition to a hybrid workplace. By keeping these things in mind, you can create an office space that will support this new way of working.
Employee collaboration is key to a productive and successful workplace. However, in a hybrid workplace where employees often work from home, companies must be intentional in fostering collaboration.
One way to do this is by encouraging employees to socialize with each other outside of work. This can be done by organizing social events or activities that employees can participate in. For example, you could organize a virtual happy hour or coffee break where employees can chat and catch up with each other.
Another way to promote employee collaboration is by using technology to your advantage. There are a number of different tools that can be used to help employees stay connected and collaborate with each other. For example, video conferencing software such as Skype or Zoom can be used for team meetings, while online collaboration tools such as Google Docs or Notion can be used for sharing documents and files.
Tactic, another hybrid workplace solution, allows employees to see who will be in the office, making in-person collaboration easier. You can also use this technology to measure how often those interactions are happening, giving you better insight into how and when the office is being utilized.
The hybrid work model is the future of work. It offers the best of both worlds: the flexibility and freedom of working from home, with the structure and support of an office. By offering employees more flexibility, hybrid work not only helps improve team morale but also helps companies attract and retain top talent.
The hybrid work model is quickly evolving, and more and more businesses are adopting it. As the workplace continues to evolve, it's clear that the hybrid work model is here to stay.