Hybrid Work in A Post Pandemic World

In one of the largest global trials in the history of work, the Coronavirus pandemic prompted a dramatic change of working into remote working. As portions of the world reopen, the experiments continue, adjusting to a post-pandemic reality in which remote and in-office work is no longer either/or options.

Employees' adaptability was demonstrated during the move to remote work. Now, with the impending return to work, businesses have another opportunity to embrace the unknown. This time, instead of just hours, they had months to plan. After more than a year of unparalleled circumstances, many employees around the world are suddenly being offered unprecedented flexibility.

By 2020, practically every team would be discussing remote work. What was the best way to do it, What were the hurdles, and if it was a good fit for them? In 2021 however, the discourse has switched to the hybrid model. Now that people are starting to gather in person again, how can companies effectively integrate remote workers with an in-person component at their existing office spaces? Organizations are discovering that their workforce is unwilling to give up remote work as offices reopen.

People who began working remotely as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic largely support it and plan to do so in the future. Companies can no longer claim that they can't operate remotely (a popular argument for avoiding remote work before 2020), but they also cannot expect employees to return to the office full-time in the face of an ongoing worldwide pandemic. The hybrid model is the most common answer and it is one that every company appears to be grappling with right now.

What is Hybrid Work Model?

A hybrid work model is one in which an employee's schedule includes both in-office and remote work. Employees have the option of working from home on occasion and coming into the office on other occasions. There is no such thing as a universal hybrid model. Each organization creates a hybrid work model depending on the company's needs as well as the individual employee's demands.

The hybrid work model is frequently mentioned, yet there isn't a single well-defined example. In the end, it will require a combination of working remotely and in the office. The hybrid approach appears to be different for each organization so far, although there are a few common features. Some of the popular hybrid work model structures are:

  • Remote First. With a few exceptions, many leaders are opting to become remote-first, which means that their operations will closely resemble those of a fully remote organization. Most will, for example preserve their offices as work spaces for their staff. Certain employers would not provide every employee the same level of flexibility, which means that some employees may be required to continue coming to work if their job needs it.

    Everyone's version of remote first will be slightly different, but the essential premise is that the company should function like a fully remote organization, with staff distributed across time zones and defaulting to online communication.
  • Office Occasional. Some businesses are ready to return to work. Perhaps they don't want to waste money on empty office space, or they aren't certain that remote work is the way to go. These companies could create a hybrid model that is known as office-occasional. Employees are expected to visit the workplace a few times every week. Unlike the remote-first paradigm, which employs office spaces solely for collaboration, this model uses the workplace to mix in-person collaboration with solitary work.

    Based on the needs of the company, this can be a relatively loose policy (e.g employees are instructed to come into the office two days a week on their liking) or there can be a firmer guidelines (e.g. employees are expected to work from the office every Monday). The company is not going totally remote-first which is at the heart of this concept. Instead they maintain an office and expect employees to spend time there. Some employees may even wish to spend more time there than is required. Regardless, because employees must come into the office on occasion, the workforce will be primarily local rather than scattered.
  • Office First, Remote Allowed. Another alternative is to keep both the office and remote work, but make the office your primary workplace. Prior to the Coronavirus Pandemic, this was a popular setup, corporation would have a small part of their personnel working remotely while the rest worked from a single main office area. When the full leadership team is in the office, this strategy is especially typical.

    Because the leadership team will generally engage in-person communication and cooperation, excluding remote workers, the rest of the organization is likely to become office-centered by default. The company may have a remote work policy and some employees may be dispersed in this mode, but those who work in-office and those who do not are distinguished by the relationships and opportunities that in-office employees gain from working so closely with the leadership team.

Benefits of Hybrid Workplace

In order to manage a hybrid workforce, your company must be able to combine the benefits of remote work with the collaborative opportunities of face-to-face work in a physical office setting.

According to a study, 47 per cent of employees would hunt for another job if their employer does not adopt a flexible working paradigm. As a result, employees clearly value hybrid work.

But what draws them to a hybrid work model? Below are some benefits for both the employees and the company.

  • Improve In Productivity. Not everyone works in the same way. Some knowledge professionals (accountants, engineers, professors, and so on) may function better in the early morning hours and find it difficult to focus after lunch. Some employees can work from home in a hybrid workplace.

    These members of the remote team can work according to their own schedules. Similarly, some employees require social interaction in order to perform at their best. Only if they work from an actual office location will they be able to attain their professional objectives.
  • Reduced Cost Of Overhead. There will be much fewer office personnel in your actual workplace if you have a hybrid workforce. This implies you would not need a lot of office supplies like furniture, stationery, or phone lines. You can also downsize your office space to simple have a few employees, saving money on real estate, electricity bills and other high-cost items.
  • Infections Are Less Likely To Spread. Some firms demand that specific employees be present in the physical workplace at all times. Consider a manufacturing firm that needs its engineers to be on-site at all times. In these situation, having fewer office workers allows you to implement rigorous social separation.

    This will help to minimize the spread of infections like the flu, the common cold, and even Coronavirus. Employees will take fewer sick days, which will increase the hybrid team's overall productivity and performance.

Drawbacks Of Hybrid Workplace

A hybrid workplace is a tried and true solution for distributed teams and workforces, but companies still need to sort out a few glitches in the hybrid model. These few flaws add up to some obvious risks, but the good news is that many of them can be avoided with a thoughtful design and management of the hybrid workplaces.

  • Feeling of Isolation. A remote worker in a hybrid team may feel alienated and separated from the in-house team. They are unable to physically visit their coworker's workstation for face-to-face discussions. Other office perks, such as team lunches, business happy hours, birthday goodies, and more, may be missed.
  • Differences In Time. Time zones matter a lot, especially when you have one team that is in the same time zone as you and another team that is scattered over multiple time zones. If your remote team is based in Australia and the rest of them is based in Malaysia, the remote team may have to wait hours (or perhaps a whole workday) for a response to their communications.
  • Lack Of Proper Training. You might be moving to a hybrid work paradigm to allow a few employees to work from home because of family obligations. You could believe that they can continue to work as if they were in an actual office. This is, however, not the case.
    Working remotely is a completely new game with its own set of rules and requirements. It is likely that implementing the training module rapidly would not be viable, resulting in lower performance and productivity.

Tips To Overcome Drawbacks Of Hybrid Workplace

Change is sometimes voluntary, but it is often unavoidable, in either case, it is not without its difficulties. The past year has seen a significant upheaval in our tried and tested working habits, and most businesses are now using this as an opportunity to rethink their strategies and implement long-term adjustments.

Hybrid working arrangements appear to be one of the most popular paths forward, although its specifics are still being worked out. Some risk has been seen from hybrid workplaces but here are some solutions to the challenges faced.

Create A Variety Of Benefits For Employees

Allow your staff who are working remotely to participate in all critical events, such as celebrations and manager meetings. You can send them monthly goodie bags, gift cards, or even a modest presence on their birthdays to include them in office celebrations.

You can also hold virtual business happy hours so that all of your staff can take part. In addition, make sure that distributed team members meet with their supervisors on a weekly basis. This will allow them to discuss their job progress and resolve issues quickly. Make room in your monthly budget and schedule for modest but important rewards. It will surely improve employee satisfaction and push them to achieve their best.

Change Your Communication Style To Asynchronous

Asynchronous communication refers to communication in which team members are not expected to answer right away. You provide them with all the information they need to accomplish a task, and they finish it on their own time. This relieves the stress of having to be online all of the time and responding to all inquiries in real-time.

Of course, in order to apply this strategy effectively, you must provide all of the tools and information connected to the project or assignment to the personnel. Notes, specs, and valuable links connected to the work can all be added. Employee efficiency and production will increase as a result of this form of communication.

Change The Way You Conduct Meetings

Meetings are an important aspect of every organization, whether it is based remotely or not. However, if these meetings are not properly prepared and performed in a distant setting, they may become chaotic or even unproductive. You would not need to hold meetings for each phase of the process if you use the asynchronous communication method.

However, weekly updates or even casual team meetings will be required. Planning these meetings and taking into account the multiple time zones of remote personnel is tremendously beneficial. Establish clear agendas and convey them to all members ahead of time so they can arrive prepared.

It is critical to start and complete meetings on time, whether they are an hour-long Zoom video conference or a 15 minute Google Meet, to prevent wasting anyone's time. You can also invite all staff (both in-house and remote) to join the meetings from their own laptops. This way, employees working from home will not feel left out when the rest of the company gathers in the conference room.

For more tips on overcoming the drawbacks of hybrid work, watch the video below.

Differences Between Hybrid Work And Remote Work

Working from a distance is referred to as remote work. It enables your staff to work on a more flexible schedule and from any location, which is significantly more convenient for many in today's workforce. Teams working in mixed environments make up the hybrid model.

Your staff may work from home for part of the week and in the office for the rest. Many organizations are using the hybrid approach to some level when they return to in-office work. Some of their employees are returning to work, while others are still working from home. It is totally based on what works best for your team when selecting the model.

HybridRemote
Having the option to choose the work environment which can boost employee productivity greatly in the hybrid methodOnly those employees who can adjust well to remote working will be more productive in this case. Not everyone can perform as well at home as they would in the office
A hybrid organization must establish policies to ensure that all information is distributed consistently to both in-house and remote workersBecause all workers work remotely, the company already has a standardized mechanism in place to communicate all information
Meetings in a hybrid team might take place virtually or in the officeMeetings in a remote company are always virtual, using video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype and others
Employees who work remotely may feel left out of settings such as team lunches, birthdays, and so onThe fact that everyone works in various locations brings the remote workforce together
Is more adaptable, allowing employees to choose whether they want to work in an office or from homeAll professionals in a remote organization must work outside of a regular office atmosphere

Examples Of How Companies Successfully Planned For A Hybrid Work Model

By pushing people all throughout the world to work from home, the pandemic has forever transformed the way we work. And, while there'll always be opportunity for improvement and learning, we've now arrived at a moment where organizations aren't merely adapting to remote work, but are actively planning to make it permanent for some or all of their staff. As this notion develops, some businesses have successfully implemented their own hybrid work model.

Microsoft

Microsoft first stated their intention to introduce a hybrid work paradigm in October 2020, and they've subsequently given even more information about their philosophy and practices for this new model. In summary, the software behemoth will allow each employee to work from home 50% of the time or less without the need to seek permission from their boss. Employees who want to work from home more than half of the time must get permission from their boss. They'll also have to give up their desk or office at Microsoft's headquarters, although they'll have designated areas when they need to report in person. Those who are approved for permanent remote work can also choose to relocate.

Citigroup

Citigroup presented its own version of a mixed working environment in March of 2021. Employees at the nation's third-largest bank made plans to return to work full-time from the office earlier this month, prompting the decision. Citigroup's CEO, Jane Fraser, stated that the company's choice was influenced in part by the fact that many employees benefited from the flexibility of working from home during the pandemic. She also discussed how employees' ability to engage with coworkers and management from their home office affects their chances of adopting a hybrid work paradigm. Employees at Citigroup's Manhattan headquarters who work in bank branches or data centers are not eligible for the hybrid working arrangement. Fraser also revealed that video meetings would be banned on Fridays, or also known as "Zoom-free Fridays," and that a small percentage of the 210,000 employees at this location would continue to work remotely 100% of the time.

Ford

In March 2021, the Detroit-based automaker stated that it would use a hybrid work paradigm for its 30,000 employees who already work from home. Ford employees who worked from home during the pandemic can request permission from their managers to continue working remotely. Only instances requiring face-to-face contacts, such as group projects and some meetings, require them to come into the office in person. Ford Motor Company spokesperson David Dubensky stated that due to the nature of the company's operation, it is impossible to offer remote working to all employees. This is especially true for people who work in the manufacturing industry directly. In an internal study conducted in June 2020, 95 percent of the company's employees stated a desire for hybrid working.

To Conclude

While the hybrid work model isn't new, it's gaining a lot of traction with employers and employees. Many large tech companies have already adopted entirely remote or hybrid work methods. As a result, it appears like working from home is the way of the future.

Many studies suggest that the benefits of a mixed workplace outweigh any potential drawbacks. This is compounded by the fact that some employees are unable to return to a centralized location. Companies may have adopted a hybrid work paradigm in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, but it is one that will outlast the pandemic as the new way to accommodate everyone's unique work styles and preferences.

Reference

What is Hybrid Work

Differences Between Hybrid Work and Remote Work

Learning How Microsoft Is Making Hybrid Model Work

Related Posts

Subscribe for more right in your inbox!

Thousands of subscribers cannot be wrong! Get Startup insights right in your inbox. 
We will only use your email to send you insights once a month - no spam!
Subscribe To Our Startup Insights

Written by Cherylle Phua

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 10

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Startup Insights
© COPYRIGHT NEXEA, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PRIVACY POLICY. TERMS OF USE.
Network, Learn & Grow With Top Entrepreneurs & Mentors
Join The Entrepreneurs Programme!