Working from home has rapidly become a reality for many as more and more businesses explore the possibilities of remote working.
Changing times and the ever-evolving digital world have caused an influx of different ways to approach remote work— one of them being the hybrid work model, which blends both in-office and remote work.
Once you’ve had a taste of remote work, it’s hard to go back. According to Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work report, 97.6% of remote workers want to continue working remotely for the rest of their careers.
But what exactly is hybrid working, how does it work, and what are the benefits or drawbacks of adopting such a flexible approach?
Those are the questions we’re looking to answer.
In this article, we’ll take a step back to analyze the pros and cons of adopting a hybrid workplace.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know everything you need to make informed decisions about successfully navigating your organization into this new era.
What Is Hybrid Work and How Does It Differ From Traditional Office-Based Work
Hybrid work is a new approach to work that blends elements of traditional office-based work with remote work.
This approach provides the best of both worlds – the productivity and structure of traditional office-based work, as well as the freedom and autonomy of remote work.
Hybrid work differs from traditional office-based work, which typically requires employees to be physically present in the office for the entirety of their workweek.
With hybrid work, employees can enjoy a better work-life balance, avoid long commutes, and benefit from increased productivity and less stress.
The Benefits of Hybrid Work
Compared to fully remote or traditional in-office work models, hybrid work serves as a middle-of-the-road solution.
With a hybrid work model, you get the best benefits from remote and in-office work.
Let’s dig into some of the most important benefits in more detail:
The most obvious benefit of hybrid work is flexibility.
Employees can work from home or any other remote location for part of their week. Still, they can come into the office on designated days to collaborate with colleagues, attend meetings, and access resources they might not otherwise have at home.
This type of flexibility allows employees to work more efficiently and effectively while allowing them to save time and money on commuting.
Better Work-Life Balance
With the added flexibility of hybrid work, employees can better manage their personal lives without compromising their professional commitments.
A hybrid work setup also gives employees more control over their schedules, which can help them to better manage their work-life balance.
Hybrid work allows employees to focus on the most important tasks without distractions and disruptions from office chatter or lengthy commutes.
Hybrid work also allows employees access to resources they might not otherwise have at home, such as specialized equipment or software programs.
As a result, employees can work more efficiently and effectively, resulting in increased employee productivity.
Potential Savings on Real-Estate Expenses
Organizations can save money on real estate expenses by offering hybrid work arrangements as fewer workers will occupy the same space at any time.
A hybrid office can help reduce overhead costs for businesses and make them more efficient overall.
Potential Drawbacks to Hybrid Work
It’s important to note that while hybrid work offers many potential benefits, it also comes with some potential drawbacks.
Once again, since it’s a middle-of-the-road solution, the main drawbacks of hybrid work are a combination of the drawbacks of both remote and in-office work models.
Let’s take a closer look at the potential drawbacks of hybrid work:
Harder to Collaborate
One potential drawback of adopting a hybrid work model is that collaboration and coordination can be more difficult when employees are not in the same physical space.
Without face-to-face interaction, it can be harder to build relationships and foster a sense of teamwork between remote workers and those who are based in the office.
To mitigate this issue, you should have processes and systems in place that facilitate collaboration between onsite and offsite employees.
Talent Pool Still Limited by Location
Another potential drawback is that the talent pool for a business is still limited by its physical location.
Hybrid work models do expand the size of your location-based talent pool. A potential employee might be turned away from a role at your business because of a commute that’s too long or difficult to do every single day.
But that same employee might believe the commute is manageable two or three days a week— so a hybrid work model draws them back into your talent pool.
That said, the bottom line is that you cannot access talent worldwide as easily as you can with fully remote work models.
Increased Risk of Burnout
Finally, hybrid work can also lead to an increased risk of burnout. A 2020 survey by Hive showed that 63% of respondents had trouble unplugging from work.
Employees who balance remote and in-office work may be stretched too thin or overwhelmed.
As such, you must ensure your business implements policies that promote a healthy work/life balance for your employees.
You must provide resources to support the mental well-being of your employees and help prevent burnout.
4 Practical Tips for Creating a Happy Hybrid Work Environment
By now, you’ve hopefully determined whether a hybrid work model could work for you.
If you’re considering putting a hybrid work model into place in your own business, consider these four practical tips to kick off your planning:
Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries
One key to success in any type of workplace setup is having clear expectations and boundaries between employees and their responsibilities.
You should ensure your employees understand what is expected for remote and in-office work.
This can help ensure everyone is on the same page and prevent misunderstandings from arising later.
It also goes a long way towards preventing burnout and preserving a healthy work/life balance.
Communication is Key
Effective communication is essential to making hybrid work successful. With any collaboration, everyone must be on the same page.
As such, you should make sure to provide employees with clear communication protocols for both remote and in-office work.
You should also emphasize the importance of communicating regularly to quickly address issues or misunderstandings.
Also, try to make communication as frictionless as possible by fostering human connections within your team and ensuring your employees have the digital tools they need to communicate easily and effectively.
Managing Workloads Effectively
Finally, it is important to ensure employees can effectively manage their workloads and prioritize tasks remotely and in-office.
The most effective way to organize your work in a hybrid work model is to reserve tasks that require deep focus for your remote working days. Plan tasks that require collaboration for in-office days.
As a leader, you should do what you can to enable employees to work like this. Ensure your employees have the necessary tools and resources to do their jobs efficiently, no matter where they’re based.
You should also consider creating a system that tracks workloads and tasks to ensure everyone is on track with their work.
Focus On Your Employees’ Experience Above All Else
The biggest challenge you’ll have to overcome is the disparity between what you see and what your employees see. A 2020 survey by IBM showed that:
- 74% of employers believe they are helping employees learn the skills they need to work in a new way, but only 38% of employees agree.
- 80% of employers believe they are supporting the physical and emotional health of the workforce, while only 46% of employees feel the same.
- 86% of employers feel they provide clear guidelines and expectations of how the organization will work, while only 51% of employees agree.
If you’re going to make informed decisions about your employees’ well-being, you first need to understand the employee experience. Ask yourself whether changes to your work model are being made for the right reasons.
Hybrid Work: Is It the Best of Both Worlds, or Neither?
Hybrid work provides a unique opportunity for employees and employers: the potential to increase production efficiency, enable flexible working hours, and offer employees a better work-life balance.
However, being a middle-of-the-road solution, you’ll get what you put in from hybrid work.
Do it right, and you stand to reap most of the benefits of remote work without drawbacks. And the same for in-office work.
Mishandle your hybrid work model, and you stand to experience the drawbacks of remote and in-office work all at once.
Nonetheless, hybrid work is a flexible, agile, and modern approach to work that could help you get more from your employees while giving them more freedom and a better work-life balance at the same time.
If you’re unsure whether you want to be a fully remote business, adopting a hybrid work model is a good way to test the waters.
You could say that the only risk of trying out a hybrid work model is the cost of experimenting— and for the modern, digital-first business, that isn’t a cost to shy away from.
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