It has been two years since hybrid workplace became the buzzword in the work environment. It’s hard to imagine that the traditional work model is now a distant memory for many employees and organisations. Indeed, the hybrid work model is the norm these days, and it might be the case even in a post-pandemic era. Is this the future of work? And what can your organisation do to adapt?
What is a Hybrid Work Model?
A hybrid work environment is a flexible work model that allows employees to work on-site (in the office) and off-site (at home or any remote location). This arrangement is to be agreed upon by the employee and employer based on the work being done. It is also one of the top workplace trends for 2022 and beyond.
The flexibility of the hybrid work model is demonstrated by the several varieties of this work setup that organisations can choose from. Below are some of the current hybrid work policies by various organisations:
⦁ Hybrid-at-Will – This work model gives employees a choice on which day(s) to work from home or at the office.
⦁ Remote-First – This work model allows employees to work from home or anywhere but the office.
⦁ Office-Occasional – This work model gives employees the option to come into the office occasionally. It honours the benefits of in-person meetings and employee bonding to boost productivity.
⦁ Hybrid Work Scheduling – This work model gives the managers the responsibility of designating which day(s) of the week an employee reports to the office, based on team functions and duties.
⦁ Hybrid Mix – This can combine any of the above hybrid work policies.
Regardless of which of these policies you choose to implement, they all share the same benefit: giving employees the flexibility to work where they want. The flexibility given to employees is part of the renewed commitment among organisations to enable employees to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Hybrid Workplace Pros and Cons
There are two significant drivers for the normalisation of the hybrid work model: 1) digitalisation in the workplace and 2) the risks of the pandemic. While the second one is the catalyst, the first driver for the hybrid work – digitalisation – is what gives it sustainability.
A 2020 survey by Statista revealed that more than 60% of employers have employees working in a hybrid setup. This survey result indicates that more companies are planning on, or have already adopted, the hybrid work environment.
Employees value the hybrid work setup. But does it make sense for the immediate and long-term future? Consider the hybrid workplace pros and cons to guide your decision on which business model to implement.
Hybrid Workplace Pros
⦁ Better work-life balance
⦁ Choosing to work where an employee feels most productive
⦁ Access to more top talents globally
⦁ Reduced overhead costs for the employer
⦁ Improved safety and wellness for the employees
Hybrid Workplace Cons
⦁ Not suited for all industries
⦁ Increased possibility of employee burnout
⦁ Increased collaboration hurdles
⦁ Team productivity reliant on access to technological infrastructure
Hybrid Work Best Practices
Switching to hybrid does not guarantee higher productivity for employees. The struggles of working from home are widely known, after all. The key here is for organisations to develop a powerful hybrid workplace strategy that prioritises employee well-being and communicates job responsibilities as well as expectations.
Take inspiration from the companies that have had success with the hybrid work environment so you can take pointers when implementing it in your organisation.
Spotify is one example of a company that has adopted the hybrid work model. They launched the “Work from Anywhere” programme in February 2021. This programme enables employees to choose suitable working situation: in-person, remote, or hybrid. The company also provides support for employees who want to move. Spotify offered to pay for the employee’s co-working space membership if they live somewhere far from a Spotify office and cannot attend in-person work.
HubSpot is another company that demonstrates how to implement a hybrid work setup successfully. The company provides three flexible work options for its employees. The first one allows employees to report to the office 3 (or more) days per week. The second one gives the employees the option to report to the office for 2 days or less per week. And the third option allows employees to work remotely full-time. The best part is that employees can change their work setup once per year, allowing them to choose the ideal way to work based on their current living situation.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s approach to its employee work setup is highly fluid. The Twitter offices have re-opened in March 2022, but the company gives the employees the option to choose where and how they want to work. This flexibility offers employees the option to become remote workers full-time.
So, what can you learn from the companies that have successfully implemented the hybrid work culture? The success of this model hinges not just on establishing the working hours and location of the employees. The values, behaviours, and workplace systems you have in place also play a critical role. Employers need not lose sight of the employee experience for the hybrid work model to succeed.
The following are key pointers to learn from and the best hybrid work practices from companies that were discussed above.
1. Listen to your employees.
It’s hard enough to understand the needs of your office employees, but it is more difficult to develop empathy for them when they are working remotely. It is a good idea to switch to a people-centric leadership style. You need to be more inquisitive and encourage your employees to speak out for their needs. Take a proactive step to gather information and feedback from your employees, as some might not be willing to speak up.
The advances in technology can easily overcome these challenges. There are plenty of communication tools you can use to your advantage while giving your employees a channel where they can speak their voice. Implement an open-door policy where employees can speak directly with their superiors.
2. Build equity across all employees.
The success of a hybrid work implementation lies in your ability to think of everyone as equal. It is easy to overlook remote employees since they do not have as much face time as the in-person workers. However, successful leaders in the hybrid work environment make an effort to reach out to all employees, so no one is left behind. At the same time, workers whose responsibilities require them to report to the office might find it unfair that they do not have the same flexibility as their remote counterparts.
Understanding the challenges faced with each type of work setup and bringing solutions for each one can make all employees feel empowered and valued.
3. Make your intentions clear.
Constantly living in a cloud of uncertainty is exhausting. This is a realisation that everyone has had during the pandemic. Not knowing what the next 3-6 months hold can make your employees fearful, and it can attract self-doubt.
If you switch to a hybrid work setup, you need to set clear intentions toward your employees. Keep everyone connected at all times. Get them involved in team meetings. Maintaining high employee engagement boosts their productivity level and assures them that they are a part of the team for the long run. It is easy to feel disconnected from the organisation when you are not in physical contact with your managers and executive leaders. This is something you need to address.
4. Build employee personas
Understand that not all employees are the same. Building a persona for each one will help you identify the unique needs for each and ways to address them in a way that significantly impacts how they work.
Is the hybrid model the future of work? By the looks of it, that is the direction that we’re headed right now. Learn to anchor your trust in your employees to empower them to excel and manage your expectations.
A good place to start is to survey your employees so you can get a pulse for what they need. From an advanced technological infrastructure to a co-working space, you want to be able to support their needs for them to thrive in the hybrid work environment.
Shifting towards hybrid workplace with Compass Offices
Not sure which hybrid office space is right for you? We can help you with our flexible office solutions whether you are looking for excellent location, modern amenities, flexibility, IT infrastructure, office security or all of the above. Get in touch with us today!