While it was ‘social distancing’ and ‘quarantine’ that were the buzzwords for the general public in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘Remote Work’ and ‘Work from Home’ (WFH) were used in abundance by businesses around the world. The WFH model that skyrocketed during the last year hasn’t witnessed a downturn yet. Since several businesses can’t afford a 100% remote work model, a lot of experts opine that a Hybrid WFH model could be the future of work in the post-pandemic world.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Hybrid Work Model that’s become the talk of the town. Let’s begin with the basics.
In the simplest terms, a company has a hybrid work model if it has employees working both in-office and remotely. This model offers employees flexibility in terms of where and how they work. Preferably, hybrid work should be able to bestow your employees a perfect combination of convenience and productivity. Providing a hybrid work model is expected to contribute positively to employees’ mental health, morale, and company culture.
As per a recent report released by Microsoft, over 70% of employees want remote work options to continue in some form and 65% want more time in-person with their teams. A Gallup survey finds that employees who worked remotely at least some of the time both pre-pandemic and during the pandemic had the highest engagement rates. A report from AngelList and Buffer published in February 2020 found that almost all (98%) of the 3,500 global remote workers it surveyed would prefer to work remotely, at least part-time, for the rest of their working lives. However, experts argue that employees who work from home all the time higher chances of suffering from burnout.
The three most common types of hybrid work are as follows:
In this model, a part of the workforce would work fully on-site and the other part would be fully remote. This seems to be the most common of the hybrid options.
Here, the workforce has the flexibility to work on-site for a few days and work remotely on the remaining workdays. This has been the most talked-about hybrid work model.
This model provides some of the teams the flexibility to work on-site on some days and remotely on others. The remaining employees work fully remote or fully on-site.
A reduction in the in-house employees means your company may be able to lower the chances of COVID spreading around the team. This will result in fewer sick days.
The opportunity to hire talent not only locally but also globally
When job positions are open to global candidates, companies will be able to build teams with exceptional skills. The global workforce that performs their duties in different time zones would provide round-the-clock coverage.
Employees have a chance to work flexibly and raise productivity
The model lets your team members who need to focus quietly at home and those who perform better in an office setting the ability to work where and when they’re most productive. Besides this, WFH enables people with disabilities or medical conditions to work comfortably while staying connected.
Lowered overhead costs
Fewer people in the office would mean that businesses have fewer costly office expenses. For instance, you could be able to downscale to a smaller office with less expenditure on rent, electricity, or office supplies.
Reduced expenses for the employees
The hybrid model also means that employees are spending less time and money on commuting, which is beneficial to those employees who are unable to find affordable accommodation close to the office.
Improved ways of collaboration
When involving in team activities like brainstorming or other collaborative work, your employees no longer need to be in the same meeting room. With the help of technology like video conferencing, meetings are now location-independent.
In the remote work model, we’ve seen greater work-life integration. Working away from the office demands flexibility and trust from management. A lot of companies have one-to-one meetings regularly to check in with individual employees, on their professional as well as personal lives.
Greater employee isolation
It’s been a while since your employees have been staying away from each other and focusing on their individual tasks. The rapport and companionship they built with their colleagues by being present at the office must have weakened for many of them. In a hybrid model, your remote employees may feel isolated, left out, and disconnected from the in-office team. Several analysts caution that WFH employees may miss out on perks like team lunches, birthday parties, and company happy hours.
Increased cyber risks
Experts often warn that cyber-attacks and other related hazards like data loss are more likely to occur when working and communicating from changing locations. Owing to the risk of data breaches, businesses are advised to protect their digital footprint through constant software updates, robust password management, and multi-factor authentication.
In-group and out-group dynamics
There seems to be a tendency to equate working in-office to loyalty and devotion towards the organization. The management may identify the ones who choose to go back to the office as more dedicated compared to the people working remotely at home. This can expand the gender gap, as many women could choose WFH for they mostly take on home-based caring responsibilities.
Fact: According to a survey by Gartner, 64 percent of managers are more likely to give office-based workers a higher raise than remote workers as they believe that office workers are higher performers.
Weakened client experience
If your customers are used to coming into your workplace for a physical consultation for specialist services, for instance at the bank, this model could interrupt the familiar customer experience. Although technology can help alleviate this problem, it would take them some time to effortlessly switch to new procedures.
The difficulty of maintaining productive routines
It’s known that work-life integration comes with its unique set of challenges. In a hybrid model, some employees may be flabbergasted by the need to toggle between two different sets of work routines, at home and in the office. Employees who are parents would find it more difficult. Thus, it will require the managers to be aware and empathize with the individual circumstances of each employee.
Challenges associated with communication
In the WFH mode, all the contact with your remote employee occurs virtually via messenger apps like MS Teams, Slack, video calls, emails, etc. Research has found that the widespread compulsion to embrace videoconferencing as the solution to the loss of in-person interaction could be problematic. Video-chat exhaustion (“Zoom fatigue”) is very real, and that’s why involving your employees on video calls for hours each day is not recommended.
Fortunately, there are fewer shortcomings than advantages. If you’re preparing to implement a hybrid WFH model, be assured that with the right planning you can easily overcome the cons mentioned above.
There are a few aspects that you will have to consider if you intend you embrace a Hybrid WFH model. The Muse suggests a set of questions that you’ll need to ask yourselves before you start the planning. Some of the questions are listed here.
Some COVID-Specific Questions
Some of the questions your employees might have
Managing a Hybrid Work Model takes a specialized approach. The right planning and preparation will make it possible for you to establish a model that does exactly what you want to help your business grow in these challenging times. Business owners should set clear strategies, including clear expectations, communication with employees, work flexibility, etc. so that they can maximize the benefits. While the tech giants suggest that hybrid work is here to stay, SMEs across the globe can consider the advantages of the model and adopt its features accordingly.