What is Hybrid Work and how to make it work?
In a pre-covid world employees and managers would clock the required number of hours at the office and then come home to get on with their lives. But with the pandemic, everything changed. Offices went remote and you could now work from home. Understandable as it was, employees embraced this change of space & structure with open arms.
And with time, they came to love it so much that many of them still wanted to continue working remotely even when things opened up. This is where hybrid work came into the picture. Also referred to as part-remote work, the hybrid work model promises work-life balance, flexibility and time for family and loved ones.
When it comes to hybrid work models, one size does not fit all . Here, we list down 3 types of hybrid work models which according to us are the most common structures after which companies tailor it according to their requirements.
For the past year and a half almost all companies have been operating remotely. Many employees started preferring such work models because it allowed them to work without distractions. Companies like Quora and Dropbox understood the need of the hour and were among those who adopted the remote-first work model. Their employees can relocate away from the office but the company still keeps its office space for employees that want to occasionally drop by.
Companies going by this model want their employees to still come to the office- at least a few days a week. This benefits employees because they can do in-person collaborations in the office and individual work at home. They can choose how much time they would want to spend working at both these places due to the flexible nature of the model.
Office first, remote allowed
Another option for many companies to follow is to assign the office as the primary workplace. This allows a small percentage of their employees to work from home and the others to work from the office.
Why do employees need hybrid work
A hybrid remote work environment gives employees the freedom of when to work as well as where. It generally gives them more autonomy in structuring their lives around work instead of spending a stipulated number of hours in the office and then getting around with the rest of their lives. A hybrid work scenario is also helpful for couples with young children who cannot afford childcare because now they can look after their child whilst working full time. Neither parent has to compromise on their career for the upbringing of their children. It gives them flexibility as well as freedom.
It gives people some degree of liberty for more deep work. What happens when you’re working at the office is that there are constant distractions in the form of 5-minute chats, coffee runs, being called in for impromptu meetings which does not allow you to deep dive into your work, especially work that requires some brain-racking. This kind of opportunity is provided by remote work leading to more productive outcomes.
A hybrid work model works to everyone’s advantage in a scenario where people want to deep dive into work remotely to get creative results and come to the office for collaborations or important meetings. It gives you the best of both worlds and works great for employers too. This is because if a significant percentage of the task force chooses to work remotely most days of the week then it frees up a lot of office space.
Employers can then shift to floating desks where no one has one particular desk assigned to them- It reduces office space costs by at least 75%. You could even work out of co-working spaces because then you don’t even need to purchase any office equipment.
How does hybrid work improve employee effectiveness
Productivity for knowledge workers has increased by 42% despite the persistent disruption caused by the pandemic. This is because remote workers feel that their workload is manageable and are less likely to be burned out. They also feel satisfied with the amount of work they’ve accomplished. Productivity was also impacted positively if employees were given flexibility in where they worked as well as when they worked.
According to a third of the respondents in a survey conducted by Envoy, a hybrid work model will improve their mental health. It can be in the form of flexible start/finish times, the ability to work remotely, quieter workspaces and even introducing a buddy or mentor. Encouraging peer-to-peer support will ensure that people have someone to rely on even while working remotely.
How to make hybrid work, work
It is important to remember that a hybrid work model should be beneficial to your employees in such a way that remote workers do not feel like they are missing out on important details and do not feel like second-class citizens.
To make policies that address such issues, you have to put yourself in your employee’s shoes and think of creating an environment where your employee feels respected and valued.
To do this, you can try multiple techniques
Send WFH employees goodie bags: Many times in-office teams get free lunches in the breakroom and invitations to birthday parties. The WFH team should also be able to avail similar benefits. It makes them feel valued. You, as an employer can recognize employee contributions and occasionally send them happy hour gift baskets, birthday treats, etc.
Give each team member weekly one-on-one time with their team managers
This makes sure that the employee is held accountable for the work they do regardless of where they work from. It also makes a remote worker feel like he is on the same standing as an office worker because he gets to discuss his work and ideas with his manager in time that is specially allocated for that purpose. This will also help in taking feedback for any unintended bias against in-office or remote workers.
Support asynchronous work
Replacing zoom meetings with emails or slack messages leads to better time utilization. This will allow teams to share daily updates transparently and asynchronously.
Document all meetings
In full team meetings where a couple of people are sitting in the conference room and a couple have joined virtually, it becomes very easy to not give remote workers the same attention as the meeting progresses on. It may also happen that the decision that was come upon was amended or even reversed in a water cooler chat 5 minutes after the meeting.
Virtual employees would not know about it and that does not create a healthy work environment. What you should do as an employer is to make sure that all parts of the meeting are recorded for remote workers to access.
An effective solution for this would be to make sure that all meetings are attended virtually by all employees from their desks- in the office or at home. This puts all employees at an equal standing. Further, you could note down all the important points discussed in the meeting and put it on a drive accessible to all employees later. This ensures that goals and timelines are clearly stated and there is no scope for ambiguity.
In conclusion, hybrid work is going to be the future of work for a long time to come. Of the companies that allow remote work, 42% will take a hybrid work approach. Employees and employers should use the resources available to them efficiently so that they excel in a hybrid scenario. Employers should respect their employees' wishes to work a couple of days from home and employees should be held accountable for the work they do remotely.