What is Hybrid Work and how to make it work?
Hybrid work is a work style that describes a team working together from different locations and/or different schedules. It is a blended approach where some members of the team may work from the office and others work remote. 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.
With the pandemic behind us, companies are now trying different models to find the similar efficiencies that a traditional office work style would provide while continuing to extend remote work benefits. The hybrid model is now widely seen as the future of work because of the wide range of benefits that it offers.
Hybrid work trend
Hybrid work is not new, many companies had their teams working remotely much before the pandemic hit. Hubspot and Gitlab are some infamous examples in this category.10% of the Hubspot team was working remote pre-pandemic. The pandemic accelerated the trend and made it the new normal.
The 2021 Work Trend Index published by Microsoft studied over 30,000 people in 31 countries and established that 73% of respondents desire remote work options. Two-thirds of the business decision-makers are considering redesigning office spaces to better accommodate hybrid work styles.
Benefits of hybrid work
Ideally, hybrid work provides a balance between efficiency and productivity. It saves time while keeping the value of the work intact and allows your team to work when they are the most productive paving way for asynchronous work. A hybrid work scenario gives your team the freedom of when to work as well as where. It 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.
1. Productivity Hybrid work enhances productivity by allowing an individual to choose their working hours. It optimizes the "when" and "where" of work to derive work-life balance.
2. Asynchronous communication: It is a kind of communication that doesn't happen in real-time. Information is shared by the team members when they are ready. This eliminates the expectations of being "in front of the screen" and the digital exhaustion that comes with it. Asynchronous work allows your team to work conveniently at their own pace and deliver productive results.
3. Flexibility: Hybrid work offers more flexibility than traditional office work styles. This flexible environment supports extra activities on your team's to-do list and enhances work-life balance. It also enables one to explore their potential apart from work like hobbies and arts.
Studies have shown that a switch to hybrid work has brought significant changes in the employee's and employers' mental health. A hybrid work environment is powered by flexible work timings, regular check-ins, and collaborative reporting which saves time and leads to better communication.
4. A diverse pool of recruits: Hybrid work offers an expanded pool of recruits to your team. Remote job postings have increased by a considerable amount post-pandemic. It allows job seekers to find the right match aligning with their abilities and potential.
The Work Trend Index by Microsoft finds that on LinkedIn, graduates are more likely to apply for remote job options, with 46% of existing remote workers planning to move to a new location next year because they can now work remotely.
5. Less commute: Hybrid work also cuts down on the need to commute to work. It doesn't require your team to commute to the office daily which saves them from the hassle of traveling. It also provides them with extra time which can be invested in family and to partake in continuous learning outside of their work environment.
6. Work-life balance: A hybrid work scenario is helpful for working parents with children who can now spend time with their family whilst working. It gives flexibility and freedom to the parent in making career choices that aligns with their children's upbringing.
7. Less distraction: While working from the office there can be constant distractions in the form of 5-minute chats, coffee runs, being called in for impromptu meetings and much more which does not allow you to deep dive into your work, especially a task that requires some brain-racking. This kind of opportunity is provided by remote work leading to more productive outcomes.
8. Modernized office space: If a significant percentage of your team chooses to work remotely most days of the week then it frees up a lot of office space. Team leaders can shift to floating desks where no one has one particular desk assigned to them. It helps in reducing occupied office space costs. Your team could also work out of co-working spaces which eliminates the recurring purchase of office equipment.
Hybrid work models
Hybrid model is a plan that incorporates a flexible arrangement of working from home, office, or on the go. It revolves around finding the model that suits your team the best and helping them to harness the most out of the changing working scenarios.
We are listing down 3 types of hybrid models which are the most commonly used by global companies:
1. All remote:
The pandemic pushed all companies to change their working style and the majority of them have been operating remotely since then. Your team also prefers such work models because it allows them to work together from remote locations. Remote first organizations allow their teams to relocate away from the office location while keeping the office space for members that want to occasionally drop by.
2. Remote friendly:
Companies going by this model want their teams to work from the office space a few days every week. This benefits the team because of the balance between in-person collaborations at the office and remote work from home. The flexible nature of the model allows your team members to choose how many days they want to work from the office and from home.
3. Office centric:
This hybrid work model assigns the office as the primary workplace and allows a part of the team to work from home and the rest to work from the office. This work model provides a sense of camaraderie, teamwork ,and synergy that happens when people are in the same space working toward the same goal. Employees can pick up on social cues through nonverbal communication or share their ideas during brainstorming sessions without needing to find time for a video chat.
Examples of successful hybrid work models
There is no single way to go hybrid. It can be customized as per your team's and your needs.
Here we are sharing a few examples of how these global brands harnessed the most of a hybrid work model.
Spotify introduced Work from Anywhere (WFA) that allowed its members to work from wherever they did their best thinking and creativity. The Spotify team emphasized the concept of Dynamic Workplace effort, where they re-valued their office spaces to harness employees' sustainability, flexibility, and well-being.
Grammarly focused on building a product that fosters communication and embraced a "remote first-hybrid" model with teams working from home and meeting at the office space for in-person interactions.
Hubspot's new vision of work allows its team to choose from the three- @office, @home, and @flex options. This provides the team to optimize their productivity while paving the way for face-to-face interactions and team discussions.
How to get started with Hybrid Work?
Hybrid work is more than just having a stable internet connection and an aesthetically pleasing work desk. It demands a well-laid-out strategy that suits both sides, the business leaders and their team. It is important to remember that a hybrid 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.
Planning isn't much of a hassle when done sitting around a table in the same room. It ensures real-time communication and feedback but given the shift in our working style post-pandemic, it seems almost impossible to do it the same way. Some ways to alleviate this problem under Hybrid Work Model can be :
1. To encourage a space for group discussions that allows your team to assess task progress. It saves time which can be utilized by the team for other activities.
2. Incorporating feedback meetings with daily tasks to ensure productivity and rectification of the issues that might arise in the process.
3. In-person meetings with mentors to build personal relationships and team camaraderie. This makes sure that the team members are held accountable for the work they do regardless of their location. It also instills a feeling of trust in the remote team members that they are on the same standing as an in-office team member. This also helps in taking feedback for any unintended bias against in-office or remote workers.
4. Developing an elaborated onboarding template that helps new hires with the recruitment process.
5. An extensive work module to communicate with team members in different time zones. It can be done by replacing zoom meetings with emails or slack messages which will lead to better time utilization. It will also allow your team to share daily updates transparently and asynchronously with maximum participation from all your team members.
6. Sending WFH goodie bags to your remote team is an established way to make them feel valuable. Remote team members miss out on daily in-office activities like lunches in the breakroom and invitations to birthday parties. Hence, as a team leader you should make gestures that focus on motivating them.
7. It is vital to document all meetings in a hybrid work model. Virtual employees would not know about it and that does not create a healthy work environment. As a team leader you should make sure that all parts of the meeting are recorded and are easily accessible by remote workers. 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.
A few facts that we have established by analyzing the post-pandemic situation are: flexible work and hybrid team management is the need of the hour.
Hybrid work is going to be the de facto way to work for a long time to come. Of the companies that allow remote work, the majority will take a hybrid work approach. Employers should use the resources available to them to enable their team to work efficiently and excel in a hybrid scenario. There are no set guidelines for approaching a hybrid work model but a sustainable strategy can help to sidestep the challenges. Global organizations that are going hybrid have accepted it as a core value for companies given the pros and satisfaction that it brings to your team. A hybrid work model helps you to ensure a safe, healthy, and productive future for your team.