After over two years working remotely, companies around the globe have jumped on the hybrid work bandwagon as they start to figure out their future of work in a post-pandemic world. Hybrid work, which has been called the “best of both worlds,” has gained a lot of popularity and publicity since the start of the pandemic and for good reason. By allowing employees to split their time between the office and home, companies are embracing the flexibility that employees became accustomed to while they worked remotely during the onset of the pandemic.
So, what exactly is hybrid work? Is it right for your business? How can you implement it successfully?
If you’re considering implementing hybrid work and you’re asking yourself these questions, then you’ve come to the right place. In this post you’ll learn everything you need to know about hybrid work to help you make the right decision for your company.
What is hybrid work?
Hybrid work is an employee-first, flexible working model where people divide their time between the office, their homes, or other remote locations such as a co-working spaces. Hybrid work revolves around flexibility and agility, which puts workers in the driver’s seat to make decisions about how, when and where they get their jobs done.
According to Webex, hybrid work “drives increased productivity and job satisfaction while addressing the major challenges of remote work, such as isolation and lack of community.”
By February 2022, over 80% of workers either worked entirely from home or had a hybrid work schedule.
Different hybrid work models
There’s no one-size-fits-all model for hybrid work, and there are different approaches to implementing it depending on your business’ needs.
There are five different models of hybrid work:
- Office-centric hybrid – most days in the office with one or two remote
- Fully flexible hybrid – employees choose when they’d like to work in the office
- Remote-friendly hybrid – certain groups of employees can work remotely
- Hybrid remote-office – employees can choose remote, flexible or office-centric options
- Remote (or virtual)-first – employees work remotely by default
Why hybrid work?
If you’re thinking about hybrid work, the first question to ask yourself is: why is this right for your company? Let’s answer that question with some of the more commonly-cited reasons hybrid work has become a leading trend over the last two years.
First and foremost, research – including a survey done by Smartway2 about the return to work – has shown that workers crave flexibility, and only 2% want to return to the office full time. Because many employees spent two years showing they can perform their jobs effectively from home, employers have responded by allowing employees to continue doing so.
And according to an April 2021 survey of 2000 C-suite and non C-suite employees by WeWork,“75% would give up at least one benefit or perk, including healthcare coverage, cash bonuses, and paid time off, for the freedom to choose their work environment.”
Hybrid work also boosts employee well-being and productivity. For example, hybrid work allows for a better work-life balance by limiting the amount of time employees spend in their commuting to the office.
AWA breaks down the advantages of a hybrid model into 3 categories: benefits for individuals, benefits for organizations and benefits for society.
Benefits for employees
- Improved well-being
- More disposable income from fewer commutes, meals out and more
- Increased mobility
Benefits for organizations
- Reduced real estate costs
- Improved worker productivity
- Improved retention rates
- Bigger talent pool
- Ability to grow head count without added space costs
- Improved visibility of senior leaders for employees
Benefits for society
- Reduced carbon footprint and emissions from daily employee commuting
- Higher employment rates, since location is no longer a barrier to work
- A healthier society, since employees as a collective are happier and healthier
How to make the switch to hybrid work
It’s a big decision for a company to make the transition to hybrid. While the adjustment period for employees will be made easier because of the remote work done during the pandemic, permanent hybrid work is still a culture change.
Before you take the leap, it’s imperative to understand how hybrid work will affect your business and employees.
Here are four of the most common challenges you might experience when switching to hybrid work permanently:
- Communication and collaboration barriers between management and employees
- Lack of safeguarding around employee wellbeing
- Failing to give employees at all levels a voice
- Unused real estate, which leads to wasted money
Making sure you have the right tech stack to for effortless communication, checking in with employees regularly, constantly asking for feedback and using data to understand how offices are being used are all ways to combat these challenges.