Hybrid work is a way of working that blends the best aspects of remote and in-office work. It can give employees more control over their work-life balance, while also providing employers with a more flexible workforce.
Without a trace of doubt, hybrid work models manage to end the seemingly endless debate between remote work and on-site work. As data points (and as you'll read further on in the article too), employees are more than ready (and happy) to embrace hybrid work.
Are employers ready too, though? Are you? Let's take a closer look at this, below.
Hybrid Work: The Most Wanted by Employees
Most proponents of hybrid work will tell you that's what employees want.
And they're right. Data doesn't lie. 65% of employees want flexibility in the workplace (and according to other studies, the number can go as high as 73.5%).
Hybrid work models are the very definition of that.
What most don't realize is the impact hybrid work has on people's lives -- which, in fact, where the decision to opt for hybrid comes from (on employees' side at least). According to a recent study run by CISCO, hybrid work has improved employees' well-being (nearly 80% of employees agree with this statement).
More even, employees say their relationships have improved since they started working on hybrid models too. More than 83% of them mention their relationships with their families are better, and nearly 44% say their relationships with friends have improved too.
The list goes on and on. Physical well-being, financial well-being, and a bunch of other verticals get mentioned in the study -- all pointing to the fact (yes, a fact at this point, not a supposition) that hybrid work is more wanted than ever.
Put simply, people feel hybrid work models are better for them, overall. The option to choose where and even when to work has changed people's lives -- and they would very much like things to keep going in the same direction.
Perhaps not surprisingly, though, despite the data showing employees' preference, there is still a lot of debate surrounding hybrid work.
Are Hybrid Work Environments More Demanding than Working In-Office Works?
According to Microsoft Teams, the time spent on the platform more than doubled between February 2020 and February 2021. We all know what happened in between -- but do we really know where time flew by and why the need for (endless, back-to-back) meetings arose in the first place?
As it seems, things are a bit more complicated. While the majority of people agree that hybrid work models provide them with the flexibility they need (and want), a large majority (more than 40%) also believe that "office work" is still best when it comes to advancing your career.
On the other side of the fence, most hybrid employers say they support employees regardless of how they choose to work. But only 55% of employees agree with this statement.
A good, ole' conundrum for HR teams trying to make it all work, for everyone.
For people entrenched into work models that ask employees to come into an office every day (and see everyone there, face to face, every time they need to discuss something), the whole concept of remote or hybrid work seems a bit odd. Virtual communication can be a bit delayed and even awkward at times, and so can the delivery of the projects be delayed.
From this perspective, hybrid work environments can be more demanding than in-office work environments, yes.
The issue is not "hybrid" per se, though -- it is how, exactly, you implement your hybrid work model. Good tools and processes are key to making your hybrid workplace an inclusive one for everyone -- the kind of workplace where people can thrive, become loyal to your company, and be their best selves at work.
Setting up the right systems ends the conundrum precisely because it enables your company to be transparent and your employees to be independent. In other words, done right, hybrid work can actually make it easier to advance based on results and actual dedication, rather than mere presenteeism.
Many Businesses Are Underprepared for the Hybrid Work Model
The sad reality of the "new normal" is that many businesses are underprepared for the hybrid work model. Whether we like to admit it or not, setting up a hybrid work model is not as easy as it may look.
For one, there is the matter of IT and security. If your business is underprepared for remote work, it is even more underprepared for a hybrid model that will see employees move in and out of the office (and VPNs, and other tools) on a daily basis.
Furthermore, there is the people side of things. Businesses need to be able to manage and engage employees who are both in-office and out-of-the-office -- something that requires a lot more than merely setting up a Facebook group or a Slack channel.
And then, of course, there is the work itself. If you thought managing a fully remote team was hard, just wait until you try to manage a hybrid one. The levels of coordination required are significantly higher, and the margin for error is significantly lower.
Last, but not least, there's the issue of setting up a hybrid office that keeps enabling people's independence and flexibility while providing you with the right data, so you can adjust accordingly. Hybrid work software can help with that, by the way.
All in all, it is safe to say that many businesses are not prepared for the hybrid work model -- but, luckily, there are ways to change that.
Actions HR and Business Leaders Can Take To Get Ready for Hybrid Work
What, more specifically, can you do as an HR or Business Leader to make sure you're ready to embrace a hybrid work model?
For starters, you should:
The first step is always to ask questions and do your research. What are the benefits of a hybrid work model? How can you make it work for your business? What are the risks? And more importantly, what do your employees actually want? Asking them is the first step to building a hybrid work model that fits everyone.
Adjust Your Physical Workspace
If you're going to have people in the office, you need to make sure your office is set up to accommodate people who don't come into the office every day and people who come every day. Desk hoteling can solve this issue for you, by allowing people to book specific desks, as they please.
Furthermore, you will also have to have a clear estimate of how much space you need for your team, as you might end up repurposing some of the office space you currently have.
Purchase Hardware to Aid Communication
One of the challenges of hybrid work is maintaining proper communication and making sure that both people in the office and those working remotely feel equally involved in conversations. Good microphones and cameras can help you make sure hybrid meetings are efficient and inclusive.
Training, Training, Training
You need to make sure your team is properly trained on all the new tools they will be using -- whether that's a new project management tool or a new way of booking meeting rooms.
Get Hybrid Work Software
Hybrid work software can help you manage both your in-office and remote workforce, by providing you with the data and tools you need to make decisions and keep everyone on the same page.
Good hybrid work software will enable you to run desk hoteling, book meeting rooms, avoid frustration, and make your hybrid work model as efficient as possible.
Set Up the Right Software
Aside from hybrid work software, you should also consider communication, project management, and documentation software. Slack/ Microsoft Teams, as well as Asana/ ClickUp/ Monday are great in terms of communication and project management. As for documentation software, this will be essential for sharing and collaborating on documents, whether you're in the office or out of it.
Continuously Analyze Data and Adapt
Last, but not least, you need to continuously analyze the data you have on your team's performance and attendance. This data will help you make decisions on which changes to make to your hybrid work model.
All in all, hybrid work is what employees want. As an HR or Business Leader, you need to make sure you're prepared for it -- it may not be the easiest thing to do right now, but it will definitely pay off in the long run. Happy employees are productive employees, loyal workers, and dedicated to making the entire business succeed -- and that is truly priceless.