Is the idea of working from different places going to stick around or is it just a post-pandemic trend? The hybrid work model has been an efficient solution when it was time to return to the office after the height of the pandemic. Yet, COVID-19 has not been the only trigger for needing more flexibility at work. The workplace is changing and businesses must adapt if they want to remain competitive and keep their high-valued employees. Remote work, flexitime, third workplace, hybrid schedules…. These are all terms that describe the new normal for many workers. Is it also part of your corporate vocabulary? Are you wondering why flexible work boosts success? Are you aware of the benefits but are struggling to “make hybrid work”? As organizations are looking for more productivity and talent attraction solutions, we have decided to give you a better understanding of this new way of working.
What is a hybrid work model? Origins and definition
A hybrid work model to meet employees’ needs
The pandemic highlighted the perks of the hybrid work model. Yet, it was only a matter of time before this new way of working emerged as the core reason for an overall shift in workplace culture. People have been looking for better work-life balance for a while and have started to have a new relationship with work Being forced to work from home has shown that we can be as productive (and even more) than when operating from the office. Now that we have begun to embrace the ‘New Normal,’ many people wish to keep this option.
However, as generational diversity in the workplace has never been so broad, your employees may have different expectations. Gen-Z loves the idea of working hybrid as they just entered the world of work and are still waiting to meet their colleagues in person for the first time. But Millennials appreciate the freedom of working remotely for various reasons, such as managing professional and parent life, for example. Do you want to foster employee happiness? If it’s not yet on your top priorities, you will probably change your mind after reading this article.
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A concept based on more flexibility at work
A hybrid work model is the perfect mix between the traditional office schedule, based on going on-site every weekday, and remote work, which consists of working from anywhere. It is all about flexibility. There are different types of hybrid office models as each organization creates its own according to its needs and its employees’ expectations. Here are a few examples of common flexible work concepts you may encounter:
fixed hybrid working model:
With this version, either the employer or the manager decides when workers have to be physically present and when they can be remote. Everything is set in detail which makes it easier to coordinate but there is not much freedom for personal preferences.
office-first hybrid work concept:
Businesses that apply this model expect to see their collaborators on-site most of the time. Only a few days are dedicated to flexible working. For example, your team has to come to the office 4 days a week and choose where to operate on the 5th day.
remote-first hybrid work structure:
Some organizations opt for the opposite solution by letting their workforce operate from wherever they want and request them in-office only a few days per week or month. It is great for work-life balance but it can lead to employee disconnection and isolation.
at-will hybrid office model:
This is the most flexible of all types of hybrid work models! Not only can each person choose where they work but also they can decide when. This is called flexitime and provides many advantages for employees and employers.
Why should you embrace flexibility at work? Key benefits for success
Hybrid work supports a better work-life balance
The pandemic shook up our vision of life. People now realize the importance of being healthy and spending time with family and friends. As our job represents a big part of our lives, it sometimes doesn’t leave much time for the rest. Thanks to flexible work, employees can juggle their personal and professional activities. Flexible work can also include working at different times according to when their peaks of productivity are and their individual timetable. Managing medical appointments, hobbies, kids, and other activities becomes a lot easier than with a 9-5 Monday to Friday schedule.
A flexible office means fewer costs
Isn’t minimizing costs one of the main goals for every company? Having a hybrid workforce means fewer people in the office and therefore, lowers charges such as heating or electricity. You may also realize that you no longer need such a big workspace as your employees are operating from home or a third workplace most of the time. Investing in a smaller office reduces your real estate bills as well. Finally, with the rise of remote work, many businesses have started to implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, decreasing company expenses.
A hybrid work model supports sustainable practices
According to a survey from Nature, daily global CO2 emissions were reduced by 19% during the pandemic. This positive change mainly results from a decrease in the use of transportation. Not only were workers not required to go to the office anymore, but business travel was also forbidden. This unprecedented slowdown proved how our actions affect the environment and how we can shift to more sustainable practices. Of course, staying at home all the time is not the right solution, but limiting the use of polluting transport is. Working remotely is a great opportunity for lowering the impact of ground and air transportation on the planet.
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Hybrid teams are more productive
Here is the big question for a lot of companies: is hybrid work increasing employee productivity? Before 2020, organizations often rejected remote working practices as they feared a lack of productivity from their employees. With the pandemic, the home office was the only option and many of us were positively surprised. First, teams are as productive remotely as they are on-site. Second, some of them appear to be even more efficient. Additionally, Research from Owl Labs shows that remote workers are 22% happier. Knowing that employee happiness plays a huge role in your workforce productivity, you know the right thing to do.
Flexibility at work increases job satisfaction
As we just mentioned, hybrid teams are happier. Happiness in the workplace and job satisfaction are deeply interconnected and crucial for employee experience. As the Great Resignation is becoming a big issue for HR departments, focusing on your staff’s requirements is a must. Flexibility appears among the top priorities for the post-pandemic workforce. A study from Dimensional Research even shows that 57% of the respondents would quit their job if they had to return to the office daily.
Work from anywhere at any time policy eases global talent’s recruitment
Another reason to embrace flexible work is the ability to attract and recruit new employees internationally. With virtual communication and remote opportunities, having workers operating from different locations is a lot easier. However, to maintain a positive organizational culture and create workplace connection, your workforce needs to gather in person as well. Thanks to hybrid work, you get the chance to collaborate with highly qualified individuals while offering the benefits of occasionally meeting in the office.
How to make hybrid work? Best practices to implement
Analyze and define your employees’ expectations
First and foremost, you have to determine your company’s and your workers’ needs. One of the most crucial requirements for an organization is a happy and satisfied workforce. Why? Because your team makes your business a success or a failure. Understanding their expectations in terms of flexibility is the first step to making hybrid work.
Set up a hybrid work policy
Organization is key when collaborating with a hybrid workforce. For this reason, when you know what the ideal hybrid work model for your firm is, set up a clear policy and guidelines. People need to understand what you expect from them for this concept to work and which rules to follow. Do you allow flexible working hours? Are they required to come to the office a few days per week or month? Do you provide some support to help them embrace this new way of working and plan their hybrid schedule?
Provide your hybrid team with the right working tools
Equipping your team with workplace technology that provides a seamless workflow and enables them to interact efficiently and juggle between the home office and on-site days is key. Many online solutions such as communication platforms and workspace booking apps like deskbird support hybrid teams. Again, discuss with your employees and explore your workplace analytics to know what they need.
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Cyberattacks are a common threat for companies and the risk increases with online work a lot of important and confidential information is shared digitally. Investing in the best cybersecurity system is therefore a vital step when going hybrid. Reskilling and upskilling your IT department is also essential as well as training your employees about which security measures to follow.
Build a working environment based on trust and recognition
Micromanagement behaviors tend to appear more often among leaders of hybrid teams. As we frequently remind you, this practice is very harmful to your workforce and the company. A lack of trust and recognition can cause a decrease in motivation, engagement, and satisfaction. Although, you don’t see your collaborators daily, highlighting the good work and building a relationship based on trust is even more important in a flexible work environment.
Maintain workplace connection
For workers, coming to the office only from time to time also means seeing their colleagues less often and participating in fewer in-person social events. This can result in a detachment from the company and their teammates. To maintain a certain form of connectedness, it is important to keep promoting your corporate culture and arranging in-person meetings. To discover other recommendations to foster this aspect, read our full article about workplace connection.
Are you looking for solutions to enhance productivity and happiness among your workforce? Do you want to embrace the trends of the future of work and be an organization that everyone wants to work for? Allowing more flexibility at work is undoubtedly a must for modern businesses and a key motivator for team members and new applicants. As you might have realized from this article, the benefits of a hybrid work model are numerous. From better work-life balance to fewer company costs and talent attraction, the perks of this concept are as salient for you as for your team.
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Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.