From how we work to how we socialize and even how we do our grocery shopping, our lives were all turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. The rise in popularity of the hybrid working model is a piece of this puzzle you definitely have to consider.
How do you get employees to buy into hybrid work, though? What makes people tick for coming into the office?
We have some tips for you, so read on to find out more.
The Hybrid Working Model, Explained
In short, hybrid work is a cross between a traditional 9-to-5 job and a remote working model. This type of work provides employees with agency, ownership, and flexibility, allowing everyone to come into the office when they want and need it, rather than force them back (especially after nearly two years of working from home).
There are many ways to approach hybrid work. Some of the most common hybrid working model examples include the following:
The Work/Life Hybrid
This hybrid model gives employees the flexibility to come into the office on weekdays or on weekends, depending on their own schedule. They are still accountable for their work, but they are only required to show up for a couple of hours each day instead of nine.
Team-Based Hybrid Work
Some companies also incorporate the traditional office paradigm into their hybrid approach. This allows everyone to have access to the same resources, but there is more freedom about how they spend their time. For example, some companies allow employees to choose what part of the company's business they want to focus on.
Hybrid Working for Continuous Development
This approach incorporates a hybrid working model with development opportunities. In this situation, employees are allowed to work from home, but they have to give up a portion of their paychecks in exchange for an education or training course the company is willing to organize for them. These courses can be anything from a certification to a short seminar.
To help you better understand how the hybrid working approach works in practice, let’s look at a couple of real-life examples here:
- Citigroup allows employees to work remotely half of the time and come into the office for the other half of the time
- Microsoft gives employees options: they can either go by the 50/50 model or, alternatively, ask for their managers' approvals for different models
- Amazon gives leadership full power to decide which work model works best for their team
Hybrid Work in a Post-COVID World
At this point, a large part of the office-working population of the world is still working remotely, one way or another. If at the beginning of the pandemic many employees and managers were skeptical on whether or not this would work, statistics now prove that working from home isn't that bad after all.
It's not perfect either, which is precisely why allowing people to meet at the office (at least every now and again) is important for the health of your organization. Hybrid teams can experience the best of both worlds: they can have the flexibility they need and a steady life/work balance, as well as the social and organizational elements that come with working in an office.
Calling everyone into the office after more than 18 months spent under a blanket in their living rooms seems very much like an impossible mission, in many cases. Some employees are happy to put on their office pants and come back to a more "normal" 9 to 5, but it is also easy to understand why not everyone is excited by the possibility.
Some may just find the commute tremendously difficult. Some may just think working from their home office is more productive. And many are probably still wary of the virus that has turned the world to a 180 in a matter of weeks.
In these situations, getting employees' buy-in for the new hybrid workplace experience is of the highest importance -- and achieving this is largely based on three main pillars.
The Benefits of the Hybrid Working Model
Understanding the advantages of the hybrid work model is important not only for the high-level elements of running a business, but also when you want to make sure your team is on your side when it comes to switching from a full-remote model to a hybrid one.
Remote work has its benefits, and there's no point in denying it. Likewise, office work has its own benefits too. In between the two, the hybrid work model comes with its own series of advantages, including (but not limited to):
Offering Employees the Flexibility They Need
Replacing traditional 9-to-5 jobs with hybrid working means getting more flexibility and agency in your life. Instead of coming in to work when everyone else is at the office, you can come in when you want and stay as long as you want. It's not only the ideal way to work for many people, but it's also a great way to keep your personal and professional lives completely separate.
Hybrid work allows employees to be more involved, more accountable, and more empowered. Part of this transition is caused by the fact that they are encouraged to participate in meetings and work on their projects together. This helps mitigate the anxiety about continuing the face-to-face workplace experience - if they play an active role, they can't fail.
Allowing Teams to Control Their Schedule
Hybrid working also means that employees have complete control over their schedules. They can work in a way that's most comfortable to them, without having to worry about being in an office with a certain timestamp.
Adapting to the Needs of the Organization
Hybrid working means that your organization can better adapt to internal and external changes. You can offer employees more agency over their own schedules and work practices, which will likely lead to increased productivity and better results from your team.
Saving Money on Operating Costs
Hybrid working systems are also great for your budget since they allow employees to work from home. This means you can cut on office expenses, utilities, rent, and so on, without cutting your employees off from the option of having an office to come to when they need it.
Better Employee Experience
All of this culminates in a better employee experience. While it may seem counterintuitive to think that leaving the office might lead to an overall better experience, it's important to remember that employees will be more able to move at their own pace and work in a time-efficient way.
Understanding the Hybrid Workforce
Aside from understanding the benefits of hybrid work, you must also understand the specific challenges of attracting, developing, and retaining a hybrid workforce. After all, what would your hybrid work model be without the people that make it up?
A hybrid workforce is defined as one that consists of employees who are simultaneously remote and in the office, people who are both flexible and regular, but still have recognized titles and regular hours.
While it may seem counterintuitive to think that offering your employees the option of coming into the office every day would lead to a better employee experience, in many cases it will. For example, if someone is feeling stressed or anxious about their schedule or workload at home, they'll be more likely to come into the office to take care of it.
What Do Hybrid Employees Want?
Statistics don't lie: an overwhelming 83% of people prefer a workplace strategy that provides them with the balance between remote work and office work. Hybrid employees like this working model because it provides them with numerous benefits (including the ones already mentioned in this article). Flexibility in the workplace is, by far, one of the leading advantages people appreciate when they are given the opportunity to work on a hybrid model.
In essence, though, people in the hybrid workforce are no different from other employees. They want the same basic things:
- They want to grow
- They want to be heard
- They want to be paid fairly
- They want to feel like they have a purpose
- They want to be autonomous
Making sure your team gets all of these things will help you build connection and loyalty, as well as improve efficiency. Even more, when you give employees what they want (and need), they are also more likely to rally around your causes -- be them office changes, hybrid work, or an entire overhaul of the company structure.
Managing, Engaging, and Leading a Hybrid Team
In many ways, managing a hybrid team is not very different from managing a remote or an in-office one. The specific challenges that come with a hybrid workforce are not to be overseen -- but they are not to be thought of as impossible to overcome either.
Here are some of the essential tips to keep in mind:
Make People Feel Excited about Hybrid Work
First of all, if people aren't excited about working on a hybrid model, it's going to be a lot harder to get them to stick around. How can they stay if they don't even want to be there in the first place? That's why building excitement for your new hybrid work model is going to be at the top of your list. Make an announcement, make a post on social media, talk about the benefits, ask for people's opinions - do whatever you have to do in order to get your message out there and get people excited about what you're doing.
Prepare Your Employees for Hybrid Work
Aside from building excitement, the next thing you need to do is prepare your employees for what's coming their way. Tell them exactly what their schedules will look like.
Make Your Office More Employee-Centric
By giving employees the option to take advantage of their hybrid work, your team can get the best of both worlds. They get to work in the way that's most comfortable for them, while also benefiting from all of the benefits that come with having an office at all. That means you only need to deal with fewer people when it comes to growth and development. And that means that you can more easily get people excited about coming back into the office.
Good technology can help you make the transition from a remote workplace to a hybrid one a smooth and seamless process. From meeting room booking software to the devices you equip your office with, there are a lot of tools you can use to make sure your team can focus on what they do best.
Show People Their Contributions Make a Difference
While hybrid work is great for many reasons, showing people their contributions make a difference is important too -- especially when you're implementing them at your company for the first time. Employees will feel like they're making an impact on things rather than feeling like they're just shuffling around tasks on different days.
Make People Feel Safe at Work
Whether we like to admit it or not, COVID-19 is still far from gone. Indeed, many have been vaccinated, but even so, the risk of contracting the virus is still out there -- so it is easy to understand why many employees would feel wary about going back into an office.
Help them by making sure your office respects all the social distancing and hygienic measures needed to give people some peace of mind. Small things like these can make a huge difference in terms of employee well-being (and productivity).
Practice Good Leadership
People are always more likely to jump on board with new ideas if they really like their leadership. Learn how to be the leader your team needs and they will always have your back when it comes to company changes (even those that make them feel out of their comfort zone).
Regardless of the issue at hand, getting buy-in from your team members on new policies and work models is not easy. It's definitely not impossible either, especially when it comes to something that can be as beneficial as hybrid work is. With a bit of effort, good people skills, and the right tech at your disposal, moving towards a hybrid working model will be the best thing you can ever do for yourself, your team, and your business.
We like to imagine historical moments as huge crossroads in people’s lives, as places and times where everyone is struck by Earth-shattering, life-altering epiphanies. In reality, though, history happens every day -- and what we are witnessing now, in a (post?)-pandemic world is probably one of the most paradigm-shifting moments of our generation.
Are you ready to make the leap and adapt to the “hybrid normal”?