Remote working and the hybrid work model aren’t going anywhere.
Going from rarity to status quo in just a few years, hybrid working is heavily desired by employees but can be confusing to manage properly.
Whether you're at the beginning of your consideration journey or ready to look for remote working software, I've got you covered. Let's start at the start.
What is hybrid working?
A hybrid working model is when employees have the flexibility to work from either the office space or a remote workspace (typically the kitchen table or home office). This can be anything from swinging by the office every few weeks to splitting the week into 3 days at home and 2 days in the office.
To most, hybrid working simply means flexibility... and everyone wants more flexibility. I'm not exaggerating when I say everyone - 98% of people would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.
Why? Because, among other things, hybrid work allows for:
- Increased schedule flexibility
- Time savings
- Cost savings
- Greater ability to focus
What are the types of hybrid work?
Not all hybrid models are created equally. People could be referring to a primarily at-home routine or simply a flex Friday but these are the most common hybrid work models:
1. Flexible hybrid work model
This model puts the decision-making power in the hands of the employee. They get to decide where and when they work based on their priorities on a given day or week. Need to go into the office for a meeting? Do it. Want to work from the beach instead? Go ahead!
2. Fixed hybrid work model
A couple more rules than full-flex. Certain employees (or teams) have days that they're expected to be in the office. For example, you could have your sales team all come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then choose what they prefer every other day.
3. Office-first hybrid work model
This model offers the least overall flexibility for employees. You'd set expectations to be in the office for the majority of the week but still give them to option to work from home 1 or 2 days per week.
4. Remote-first hybrid work model
As the name implies, this model sees employees mostly working from home, letting them choose if they want to come in at all. Companies with this model typically either get coworking spaces or let go of an office entirely.
Benefits of hybrid working
The benefits of the hybrid work model have been felt in many areas of the working world. Here are some of the big ones:
As strange as it may sound, it costs money to go to work; in fact, by letting your employees work from home, you're saving them an average of $6,000 per year.
You help your employees save money on things like:
- Taxes (by helping them qualify for certain tax breaks), and
Plus, you can also find significant savings for your business by reducing office space costs. McKesson, an organization with around 76,000 employees worldwide, is expecting to save anywhere from $60 - $80 million a year by reducing their office space real estate.
Global talent pool
Instead of being restricted to the talent in your geographic area, embracing remote work allows you to source talent from all around the world. Having a global team:
- Helps you expand and grow more quickly
- Enhances creativity by offering more diverse perspectives
- Helps avoid missteps due to cultural insensitivity
- Grants access to specialists around the world
You may need to look into getting an Employer of Record partner if you want to leverage a global workforce; however, you'll find that doing this often enables you to get better talent at a lower cost.
Better work life balance
Yes, it's true: working from home can actually increase employees' work-life balance. How?
- Allowing employees to take guilt-free breaks when needed
- Saving time on commuting (which decreases overall work-related time spend)
- Increased flexibility on where and how an employee works
There are some challenges with balance when working from home (such as burnout) but there are ways to deal with them, which I’ll cover later in this article.
As fun as it can be to goof off in the office, employees are proven to be more productive when they work from home. Sound wild? Check this out.
On average, remote employees:
- Are more productive than in-office employees 77% of the time
- Have higher work satisfaction, which promotes productivity
- Have fewer distractions
- Complete more deep work tasks
If you're worried about monitoring and managing a remote workforce, focus your efforts on creating the right KPIs to track, rather than finding ways to see what your employees are up to all day.
Attract and retain employees
You've seen the stats: 95% of people want to be able to work remotely. If you're able to give them what they want and offer flexibility when they need it, you'll be in a much stronger position to keep them.
- Remote job postings attract 4x more applicants than in-person
- Employees are 13% more likely to stay in their jobs when working remotely
Opening up your organization to remote working and flexibility in a hybrid workplace will help give you a competitive advantage against other organizations that want butts in office chairs.
Challenges of hybrid working
As with anything new, there are growing pains. After all, this has mostly been a completely new model of working for most individuals and organizations.
Here are some of the biggest challenges of hybrid work:
One study found 72% of employees reported feeling emotionally drained due to the hybrid model, putting them on the fast track to burnout. Interestingly enough, the issue stems from having to go back into the office after getting to work from home.
For many businesses, the hybrid model is a way to test the waters before embracing a fully remote workforce.
But here's the thing... the results are clear: Remote work increases productivity. If you're worried about your organization being the exception, you should set clear expectations around communication and output so that results - not perceptions - become your yardstick.
Community and belonging
It's easier to monitor and manage your company culture when you're all together, working out of the office. However, this shouldn't dissuade you from trying.
Just as you expect your employees to learn and grow, you should be upgrading your skills as an HR leader. This means taking on the challenge of developing a strong, connected hybrid workplace culture, through:
- Encouraging employee feedback and building mechanisms that enable them to share their thoughts anytime
- Fostering a top-down culture of transparency and understanding
- Organizing occasional in-person events that aren't work-focused
At the end of the day, people want to get their work done at home but would still love to spend time with their coworkers. By creating opportunities for connection and collaboration, you're giving the best of both worlds.
Stakeholder perception gap
Employers and employees tend to disagree about the best hybrid work policy.
When PWC conducted a remote work survey, the following feedback was discovered:
- Over half of employees (55%) would prefer to be remote at least three days a week once pandemic concerns recede.
- 68% of executives say a typical employee should be in the office at least three days a week to maintain a distinct company culture.
This variance is typically due to mistrust and insecurity around how employees are using their time. If you want to quickly (and easily) eliminate these concerns, consider encouraging employees to use a time-tracking app, such as Insightful or Clockify, to get direct insights into what's happening, and when.
Decreased creativity & participation
As great as tools like Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams are, in-person collaboration tends to take the cake.
With hybrid teams, it can be frustrating to have a vast majority of the team present to collaborate with one another, while having a few popping in via video calls.
"Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they're doing, you say 'Wow,' and soon you're cooking up all sorts of ideas."
It can be tricky to replicate those spontaneous discussions if not everyone is present.
Impact on the young workforce
This may seem like a strange point to cover. Don’t the young in the workplace want that flexibility of hybrid work?
Yes, but there are also some drawbacks to them entering the workforce during this timeframe.
82% of Gen Z workers said they feel “less connected” working remotely, while roughly half reported having communication issues at work and trouble getting the resources necessary to thrive.
Tips for adopting a hybrid work model
Here are some things that your organization can do to make the most out of adopting a hybrid work model.
Be flexible with time, too
Employees crave flexibility around when they work even more than where they work. They want the freedom to take a nap or exercise break when their body craves it, then make up the hours another time.
To accommodate this, I’ve seen organizations make use of core hours in regard to the work schedule. This typically looks like this:
- Employers set a time range in which employees must be present and available (whether online or onsite). These are typically in the 3-4 hour range (for example, 11 am - 2 pm).
- Meetings and highly collaborative work are encouraged to take place during that time range.
- Flexibility outside of this, allowing employees to work when and how they want, as long as they get their work done.
This core hours approach helps embrace the hybrid work model and will do wonders for employee engagement.
Help set boundaries
With the rise of homeworking, one of the challenges that arose was burnout. People have a hard time signing off.
After all, it’s much easier to leave the office than it is for an employee to decide when they've done enough work for the day. Luckily, we already talked about the solution.
Hear me out.
While it's nice for you to see where an employee's spending their time, it's good for them, too. If they're expected to be working 7-8 hours a day, they can see exactly how much of that they've covered and what they've completed.
Whether they do all their work in one block or complete bits at a time, these apps give them accountability for their working hours, granting them agency to sign off when they're done.
Adapt the office environment
If employees are given full freedom over when they come into the office, you'll find your office emptier and want to minimize office space.
Rather than having assigned seating, employees who decide to go in-office during the working week will make use of what's available; however, you do end up running the risk of having fewer desks than people if everyone decides to come in on the same day.
If you have been finding your organization has been struggling with this, check out our article on best hot desk booking software for managing hybrid work arrangements.
Hybrid working is a unique opportunity
As we get into 2024, it's clear that the hybrid work model is here to stay.
Employees got a taste of remote work and, spoiler alert, they loved it. If you're trying to get employees back to the office full-time, you shouldn’t be surprised to find updated LinkedIn profiles as they look for new opportunities.
Hybrid work is going to become even more widely adopted by companies that have resisted it, so you shouldn't waste any more time debating it. Go try it out!