Back in 2020, businesses all over the world went remote. It’s the end of 2021 now, and the conversation has shifted yet again. Companies are now considering what is known as the “Hybrid Work Model” and are calling it the future of work. But what is the hybrid work model? What are its pros and cons? And how can companies use current trends to make hybrid working work for them?
From what hybrid working means to the implementation of this model, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help your business make the right choice.
What is a hybrid workplace?
A hybrid workplace is a workplace that incorporates a blend of office and remote work. There is no right way to adopt hybrid working. The individual and organisations decide to split the time according to their needs, structure and policies.
Most workers miss social interaction the most. A hybrid office facilitates (socially distanced) interactions between team members while saving costs to the company by reducing office footprint. Additionally, it also aims to save commute time and provide a better work-life balance for employees.
What are the different types of hybrid working?
The Hybrid Work Model looks different for every organisation. However, there are a few clear themes in the world of work today:
- Office-First: If a company adopts an office-first policy, their office/HQ is the dominant workplace. This, however, does not mean that there is no remote work involved. It is simply an indication that the office is the primary place for getting work done.
- Remote-first: Conversely, a remote-first approach means that remote working will be the primary option, for the most part.
- 3-2 or 2-3: The 3-2 or 2-3 model requires employees to come to the office three days a week and spend two days working from home (or vice versa). This is commonly seen in companies that have a more collaborative culture.
- Designated WFH days: This strategy allows employers to dedicate specific days where employees can work from home. This can be on days that there aren’t any meetings or a Friday.
- Office occasional: An ‘office occasional’ approach is one where employers decide when the employee’s presence is needed at work.
What are the trends shaping Hybrid Work?
- According to a survey conducted by Growmotely in 2020, 97% of employees said they would not want to work in a physical office on a full-time basis.
- 35% of Irish employees say that working remotely has had a positive impact on their mental health.
- According to the Workhuman’s 2021 report, 81.5% of Irish women and 78% of Irish men said they had experienced burnout in the past 12 months.
- With The Great Resignation engulfing the world and over half of the Irish workers planning on quitting jobs, hybrid work is no longer about keeping people connected during a crisis. It is more of a way to retain employees and take care of their mental health during this transition.
What are the Pros and Cons of Hybrid Working?
- Better work-life balance: Providing employees with remote options can give them a say in how they conduct both their personal and professional lives
- More flexibility: It can reduce stress, increase job satisfaction and productivity of employees
- Hiring: Hybrid working allows companies to tap into various talent pools due to their offering of flexible work schedules and also have a positive lasting effect on employee retention
- Positive environmental impact: Hybrid or remote working reduces transport emissions and office waste
- Safety: If a team member tests positive for COVID-19, the rest of the team can go about their workdays with minimal disruption through video calls and instant messaging.
- Digital security: Hybrid working can make digital security more challenging to manage due to the varied locations of employees
- Burnout: Hybrid working can create two extreme employee experiences. Hybrid working also means employees might feel less visible and hence might over-work themselves in the attempt of getting noticed.
- Loneliness: Hybrid working can make employees feel isolated, disconnected and lonely
- Navigating legal aspects: HR teams will need to be aware of all the new laws and regulations their company operations may fall under and make necessary amendments and follow appropriate protocols.
It will most likely take a while to overcome the hurdles surrounding hybrid working, but having a solid policy, autonomy, communication, and a sense of equity will make hybrid working work for your company.
Important things to consider while going hybrid
- Companies that mandate at least one or more days in-office should be mindful of employees working from different locales that may not be close to the general area of the office.
- Workspaces will have to be redesigned and reimagined to optimise them for individual workspaces and meeting rooms. Giving your employees an option to work three or more days from the office, two days from the office or go fully remote is an excellent way to dip a toe into hybrid working. This way, the company can provide office desk space for those who want to work more days in the office and contribute to WFH setups for those who want to work from home.
- A hybrid approach will mean setting up a solid IT foundation, using dependable devices, installing robust cybersecurity software and providing remote IT support.
- Implement a perk system that is not location-specific. Introduce benefits that people don’t have to come to the workplace to enjoy.
- Provide adequate training to managers, leaders and employees on how they can do their bit to support their teams during this transition.
- Maintain and create an atmosphere of constant communication between employees and management. Communication is vital and will make the transition easier, no matter where employees choose to work form.
How to make hybrid working easier on employees
A new process and environment for employees to work in is often very taxing for them. Here are some tips on how to make this transition easier on your team:
- Offer helpful materials for work at home such as office furniture and stationery and hygiene packs with essentials when they enter the office
- Offering training or webinars on how to maintain a healthy work-life balance while engaging in remote work
- Avoid pressuring employees with extra communication and updates as this can disrupt workflow
- Keep them up-to-date on the safety protocols you are following to keep them safe when they return to the office
- Ask for their feedback, listen to their concerns and work on making their work experience easy
- Cybersecurity: Employees will have to be trained and given proper guidance on how to stay safe online. These include updates such as avoidance of unsafe Wi-Fi, use of 2-factor authentication, encryption of data, password protection best practices and immediate reporting if something goes wrong.
- Laws based on location: Companies will have to keep in mind various geographical areas while performing due diligence regarding legal compliance and tax considerations
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