Employers are ready to return to in-person work, but employees might not be. A study by McKinsey showed that most c-level executives are expecting the office to be the primary work location again, even after the Covid-19 pandemic. The disconnect is much bigger than most people believe. Contrary to employer’s expectations, almost 75% of 5,000 interviewed employees would like to work from home for at least a few days of the week, a McKinsey study says. Some of this is owed to the comforts of working from home. Other parts are due to the still ongoing pandemic and the continuous mental and physical health issues that come with it.
However, opinions diverge. Not all employees benefited from the additional freedom, reduced travel time and isolation that remote work provided them with. Therefore, the return to the workplace is an opportunity, for employees and employers alike, to re-think office culture and the company’s work model. Our own survey showed that 70% of the respondents would prefer a mixture of both work models. This is where the Hybrid Work Model comes into play.
What is Hybrid working?
In a Hybrid Work Model, employers give their employees the freedom to choose between remote and office work. This working model has been around for quite some time, but the recent pandemic has given new rise to this agile way of work. Hybrid working is a combination of both working models in order to satisfy the needs and wants of both the workforce and the company.
In general, it tries to match tasks to locations to make sure productivity and success are increased. As this might be different for every individual, the model allows the employer to reap the benefits of both remote and office work. There are many ways to design a Hybrid Work Model, but, as for most things, one size does not fit all. Each company should structure their Hybrid Work depending on their needs and wants, making sure to include their employees in the process of developing the model.
What are the benefits of Hybrid working?
A Hybrid Work Model can have a lot of benefits, which might differ for every company and employee.
In stark contrast to the 9 to 5 office culture, a Hybrid Working Model enables employees to choose their work environment based on their needs and wants – they are able to work when, where and how they are most productive. Parts of the workforce report a rise in productivity when working remotely, others argue the opposite. With a Hybrid Work Model, an employer can ensure increased success by letting their employees choose what works best for them – and therefore ultimately the company.
Better work-life balance
A recent study by slack showed that employees are attracted to Hybrid Working. To them, it often plays an important factor when choosing the next employer. Therefore, offering a Hybrid Model might help you retain talent and be attractive to other employees. One of the reasons why the workforce values Hybrid Working is the increase in flexibility that comes with it. This flexibility enables them to find a better work-life balance. With more freedom and control over their work schedules and environments, they can align their business easier with their personal lives.
Reduced exposure to illnesses
A Hybrid Working Envoy survey found that 66% of the respondents are still worried about potential health and safety issues when returning to the office. After all, the pandemic is not over yet, and it is hard to forecast what might happen next month. As with all Covid-19 regulations, fewer people in an office decrease the possibility of an infection with the virus. The ability to work from home, at least for some days, decreases an employee’s exposure to possible illnesses.
Hiring international talent
One of the biggest benefits of a Hybrid Model is the ability to hire international talent. When using Hybrid working, your employees are able to work from home. This opens the doors to hiring people from all over the world, as a presence in the office might no longer be necessary. This access to a wider talent pool also gives an organization the opportunity to hire people with specialized skills or from a specific background, giving your company a competitive advantage and adding to the organizational culture.
In summary, adopting a hybrid working model is not only a great choice for your employees, but for your organization as well. More productive, healthier and happier employees are an important part of your company’s success. Therefore, every organization should at least consider implementing such a working model into their workplace.
How to adapt to a hybrid work model
As previously mentioned, a hybrid working model can be used by any company, no matter the field, size or culture of the organization. There is, however, no one size fits all plan to introduce this work model into your firm. Here are a few things to consider when making the switch.
Include the employees in the process!
A Hybrid Model should, first and foremost, increase your employees’ happiness and productivity and work for the whole organization. Therefore, one of the first things to do when considering Hybrid Work is to speak with the workforce. By learning about their wants, needs and preferences, one can ensure that a) a Hybrid Model is the right fit for the company, and b) design the model the way the employees need it to be.
In addition, the employer should make sure that team leaders and management are ready for the transition! If needed, train them to support and communicate with those working from home. To understand the demand for Hybrid Work, one could send out a survey asking employees about their remote experience and any changes they’d want to make or things they’d like to keep.
Build a supportive infrastructure!
In an ideal world, a company’s existing infrastructure would support a Hybrid Model with both remote and on-site work. This, however, is oftentimes not the case. Investing in technology, such as communication tools and video conferencing equipment, can help you bridge the gap between working from home and the office. Make sure to support employees in this as well – finances, technology and manager access are one of the few things to watch out for. It is also advisable to establish communication best practices and set clear expectations with your employees. This will help them schedule their workday and manage expectations better.
In addition, creating office schedules can help manage the workplace and the number of employees working there at the same time. Health concerns are, as argued above, one of the main reasons why employees are hesitant to return to the office. By creating schedules, employees gain security and the knowledge that they will not be surrounded by a large group of people when in the office.
No matter the type of work model your company chooses, a certain degree of autonomy is a want for all employees. As Hybrid work decreases the manager’s ability to directly monitor and supervise their team, a certain amount of trust in them and their autonomy is relevant. When considering a Hybrid Model, make sure to give your workforce enough self-reliance and independence and place your trust in them. Not only will the individual employee profit from a more free and flexible schedule, but your company culture will benefit from it as well.
Invest in company culture!
Banter, chats by the coffee machine and the office culture are all things that employees miss out on when working from home. Especially with a Hybrid Model, where there might always be a part of the workforce working from different locations, enforcing the company culture is more essential than before. Consider creating experiences for the teams, no matter where they are working from. Do they value teamwork? Offer virtual team meeting activities.
Gather feedback continuously!
First and foremost, a Hybrid Model should benefit the employees. Gathering continuous feedback ensures that all measures taken are in line with the workforce’s expectations. Use the feedback to iterate as you go and build a hybrid workplace that thrives. Make sure to offer different ways to give feedback as well – whether it is a Slack channel, a weekly survey, or an email address specifically for this purpose.
Support new joiners!
Joining a new company can be stressful and overwhelming any day, but a Hybrid Work Model might provide an extra challenge for new employees. With our current level of technological development, virtual onboarding is easily manageable and quick to organize. The emotional component, however, may not be as easy to handle. No face-to-face conversations, no looking over somebody’s shoulder, no getting to know co-workers during a chat at the coffee machine. In order to provide a great onboarding experience for newbies, especially when using a Hybrid Work Model, make sure to offer a variety of events – in person and online – to introduce everyone properly. Whether it be a virtual coffee hour, an all-hands virtual meeting, or a joint lunch meeting, new employees should feel welcomed wherever they are working from.
Use appropriate technologies
Using a Hybrid Working Model in an organization might mean employees working from many different locations, which can make employee management tricky. The choice of appropriate technology is incredibly pertinent, which is why we would recommend HeavenHR. Our cloud-based SaaS enables you to carry out necessary administrative tasks quicker and more efficiently – no matter where you are working from. With tools like transparent and efficient digital time tracking, professional and well-structured on- and off-boarding and personnel scheduling made easy, HeavenHR is the perfect solution for your transition from remote working to a hybrid work model (and any other working day). Since the platform is entirely cloud-based, employees can add their own information, even if they are new joiners working from home. Never lose track of your company’s employees – no matter where you are working from – with HeavenHR. Sign up for a free trial period now.
Do you want to know more about how to transition from remote to office work? – Then check out our blog article on ”From remote to office work – 10 tips for your transition”.
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