Before moving forward, let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page in regards to what a hybrid work environment is.
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, home office). This can be anything from swinging by the office every few weeks, to splitting the week 3 days and 2 days in the office.
A study from Pew Research found that 59% of workers whose jobs can be done from home are working remotely all or part of the time and most (61%) out of choice rather than necessity.
Benefits of hybrid working
The benefits of the hybrid work model have been felt in many areas in the working world. Let’s take a look at some of them:
For employees, a flexible working environment has led to an average savings of about $4000 per year due to remote working. This includes reducing costs of transportation, clothes, food, and tax breaks.
For employers, a reduction of office space real estate can lead to significant savings. For example, 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.
Better work life balance
One aspect that the pandemic has seen a rise in is an increase in the work-life balance found in company culture.
With the rise of homeworking, one of the challenges that arose was burnout. People had a hard time signing off.
It’s much easier to simply leave the office and shut off compared to when you have your work at home as well.
One clever solution someone told me that their organization did was setting up a Slack channel that more or less served as a coat rack. When people were done for the day, they would say goodbye in the channel.
It was the digital equivalent of seeing someone grab their coat off the coat rack at the end of the day—signaling it was time to start winding up for the day.
After finishing up for the day, they may do something like walking to the train station that they would normally take to work to help replicate that commute to help shut off from work for the day. Even something as simple as a trip around the block is a good start on that front.
Adapting the office environment
People come into the office to collaborate and socialize with their teammates. So it makes sense to adapt your office space with this in mind, as well as the fact that some employees may be telecommuting while others are in-office.
Another consideration of embracing the hybrid work model and minimizing office space, you’re likely going to have some sort of system like hot desking.
Instead of assigned seating, employees who decide to do some in-office work during the working week will make use of what is available.
With this approach, there are some concerns that you should be aware of. For example, I’ve known a number of organizations who struggled with hot-desking as there were cases where too many people were onsite and finding somewhere to work became a frustrating affair.
Employees got a taste of it, and those trying to get everyone back to the office shouldn’t be surprised if employees are updating their LinkedIn profiles and looking for new opportunities.
There are still plenty of challenges, and best practices are still going to take some time to emerge. But, if you care about retention at your organization, all signs and evidence point to adopting a hybrid work model.