How to Ensure Your Hybrid Work from Home Model Wins

22 Mar 2022

Are you considering a hybrid work from home model for your organization?

Or maybe you’re already designing it? Or have you even started to implement your own “productivity anywhere” hybrid workforce model?

And this is not a gut feeling but based on factual data: 63% of high-growth companies have already adopted it. Even more importantly, 83% of employees are preferring it.

Now, how do you figure out which is the right hybrid version for your organization? And how do you get it right?

This is what you’re going to find out in this post. Let’s dive right in!

What Is a Hybrid Work From Home Model?

A hybrid work from home model allows some of the employees to work remotely, while others work onsite.

remote conference call

In other words, you get to take the hybrid model and run with it.

To adapt it to your organization’s specific needs and come up with so many possible hybrid-remote scenarios:

  • Your back-end development team can work remotely full-time.
  • Your front-end developers and web design teams can synchronize their schedules to virtually meet. The first ones work off-site, while the latter on-site.
  • Some of the people in your marketing team work from home, while the rest of them on-site.
  • Managers and team leaders (and them only) could be working on-premises “n” days a week.

See? The variations of the hybrid work from home model that you end up with are endless!

Good to know! Hybrid work from home doesn't refer to a hybrid-remote scenario where the same employee gets to split his/her work schedule between home and the office, each week. That’s more of a flexible work style.

And this is where things get challenging: how do you identify the right variation for your organization?

To know what version to choose you first need to know your options really well.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common “flavors” that the hybrid work from home model comes in!

Variations of the Hybrid Work From Home Model

3 of the most popular hybrid working from home models are:

Remote-First

The remote-first (or remote-friendly) hybrid model is the approach where you operate like a fully remote organization.

One with employees spread across different parts of the globe, different time zones. Where online communication is the default.

And if you fit the profile of most organizations who’ve implemented this model you’d still keep your offices as a complementary space for your employees to work from.

In this scenario, you don’t just allow your employees to work off-site, you encourage them to.

This means that, as a remote-first organization, you have all your tools and workflows set in place to enable all teams and team members to communicate and collaborate effectively.
To get quick access to all the information they need.

But it also means that you give them the freedom to choose between working remotely and working from the office.

Office-Occasional

When you go with an office-occasional model your hybrid work from home policy states that employees should come to the office a few days a week. Say… on Monday and on Wednesday, each week.

colleagues meeting in the office

You can opt for a more flexible arrangement and allow them to choose the days they want to work on-site.

Or a more restrictive one: everyone/specific teams should be at the office on specific days of the week.

The core idea is that you’re not going fully remote nor do you designate the office as the main place for employees to work from.

You keep the office and require employees to use it a few times a week for in-person collaboration and solo work.

Unlike in a remote-first work scenario where office spaces are used primarily for collaboration.

Office-First, Remote Allowed

When adopting an office-first, remote allowed model you’re expecting employees to work from the office, yet you allow them to work from home ½ days a week.

Or you have people who work at the office and a smaller percentage of people who work remotely, the office being the main place for working.

In some office-first working scenarios employees are allowed to take their “work from home” days whenever they want to. In other scenarios, this flexibility perk gets granted case-by-case.

As this might depend on which people/teams need to work from the office at a specific time.

And you’ll be more tempted to go with this particular hybrid WFH model variation if you consider that this way employees:

  • can collaborate more effectively.
  • experience a stronger feeling of belonging.

Word of caution! If you’re implementing a “most people work from the office and a small group of them work from home” type of work arrangement you might run the risk that remote workers should feel like second-hand citizens.

Also, if adopting this approach comes hand in hand with restricting employees’ flexibility (such as allowing them to set their own working hours) you risk affecting employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

What Are the Benefits of a Hybrid Working Environment?

OK, so now you know a little bit more about your options at hand when it comes to hybrid work-from-home models.

And you might already have a favorite.

Still, before you rush in to choose one approach over the other, you’ll want to know exactly what’s in it for you and the employees.

So, let’s talk benefits!

It Lowers Social Isolation and Increases Work/Life Balance

42.8% of employees experienced lower life satisfaction after working remotely.

That because the “great remote work movement” has also led to:

  • longer working hours.
  • a constant challenge to reach a better work-life balance (checking devices/work emails outside working hours).
  • a constant feeling of isolation.

And this is precisely the type of challenge the loneliness that today’s employees are struggling with that a work from home hybrid model comes to solve.

colleagues on a coffee break

It Allows for Less Commuting

People prefer not to have to commute to work every single day. Whether that means a 45 minutes (or longer) commute by a public means of transportation or a stressful drive to the office at peak hours.

A hybrid model turns commuting from a daily hassle into a few times a week/month one.

It Can Enable More Effective Collaboration

As you’re struggling to find, provide, and train your employees on using the right software that’ll help them communicate and collaborate remotely, a hybrid wfh model comes to ease your efforts.

With people meeting, in-person, in the office space, a few times a week, they get to communicate and collaborate, in person. Without the setback of glitches of their digital communication tools.

It Reduces Overhead Costs

A hybrid work setup allows you to cut down on your office space costs.

With people working remotely at least one or a couple of days each week you won’t be needing that much square footage, right?

It Offers More Opportunities for Team-Building

Remember what surveys have shown about the correlation between remote work and an acute feeling of social isolation (see subheading 3.1.)?

In a hybrid work from home model the office space helps to tighten social ties between employees.

And this can happen through team building, on-the-job (and at the office) learning opportunities, and overall more opportunities for people to connect in the physical space.

team building in the office

No virtual coffee can replace, in terms of empathy and emotional connection, a short, face-to-face meetup at a team member's desk.

How to Make a WFH Hybrid Model Work for Your Business

By this time you have your “What” and your “Why bother/What’s in it for me?”, so it’s time you figure out your “How”, as well:

How do you get hybrid work right?

Here are 3 best practices you’ll want to consider:

Pay Attention to Where Leadership Works

You’ll want to make sure leadership supports the hybrid work from home model that you’re implementing throughout your organization.

For it’s them that “set the trend”. And they can easily turn it, unintentionally, into an “office-centric” type of hybrid arrangement.

Which can then lead to inequalities between on-premise and remote employees around recognition and promotion.

Those working from the office alongside their managers/senior leaders risk becoming more “visible” along with their own efforts at work compared to team members working remotely.

To keep the balance, you’ll need to set up clear hybrid work policies stating that leadership teams should not attend the office more than “n” times a month, for instance.

In other words, for leaders in your company to model a remote-friendly behavior they’ll need to work remotely, themselves, on certain days.

And you’ll want to communicate this clearly in your hybrid work from home policy.

Offer a Consistent Experience

Speaking of your hybrid work policies, you’ll need to make sure they’re consistent, as well. In addition to being crystal clear about leadership’s role in modeling this new behavior across the organization.

You’ll want to put together guidelines that ensure all employees, both in-office and remote ones, benefit from the same workplace experience.

And that the latter doesn’t feel like they’re being slightly left out, uncomfortable to speak up at meetings, or underappreciated compared to their on-premise colleagues.

Here are some good practices in this respect:

  • Prioritize online communication over in-person one (all-remote meetings over hybrid meetings where some people are in conferences rooms, joined by their remote teammates from a screen to the side).
  • Plan events/meetings with remote teams in mind.
  • Redesign your office turning it into just another space to work remotely from, with both individual meeting rooms and individual workspaces.
  • Record critical, work-related conversations.
  • Offer equal benefits and perks to both in-office and remote teams.
  • Make sure that all work meetings have agendas up front, that all employees can contribute to.

Be Aware of Who Is Promoted and Recognized

You’ll want to prevent those hybrid work-from-home scenarios where office-based employees stand higher chances to get promoted. Or to have their achievements recognized more often compared to their remote colleagues.

Compared to those who don’t “rub shoulders” with their managers in the office.

According to a 2020 Gartner survey, 64% of the interviewed managers considered that on-site employees perform better than those working remotely.

In short, lack of “face time” with managers does influence perception of one’s performance and stats are showing it.

Such biases towards remote team members can “flourish” in a hybrid work setup. And that’s precisely what you’ll want to prevent if you want your work from home hybrid model to be successful.

How do you prevent inequities and promote equality across your hybrid-remote team(s)?

Here are 2 best practices to consider:

  • Make it clear in your policies that leaders’ and executives’ place is outside the office.
  • Have your managers trained so that can be able to identify biases towards remote employees while running their regular performance evaluation.

For oftentimes privileging in-office employees happens unintentionally. But once such biases are identified, it becomes easier to avoid them.

job promotion

Frequently Asked Questions About Hybrid Work From Home Model

What Does Hybrid-Remote Mean?

In a hybrid-remote work scenario, a subset of the employees goes to a common office space to work, most of the time, whereas the other subset works remotely.

Mind you don’t confuse it with an all-remote work model, where you have no physical offices for people to go to (there are no headquarters). In this scenario, everyone is free to choose the place they want to work from, the leadership here included.

We can even talk about 2 different types of workplace experiences: the day-to-day experience of hybrid employees and that of employees working in an all-remote organization.

In short, in a hybrid-remote (or part-remote) setup, remote work is allowed rather than the norm.

What Is the Difference Between Remote Work Model and Hybrid Work Model?

We've already tackled the key difference between these work models: in a hybrid work from home scenario “remote” is the allowed exception.

Compared to the all-remote model, where everything — from the recruiting process to the way regular meetings are being scheduled and held — is thought through so that it supports and reinforces this model.

And that’s why getting a work from home hybrid model to work is more challenging than implementing and ensuring that an all-remote or an all-collocated model wins.

For instance, in an all-remote scenario everyone’s free to choose their workplace. But a hybrid wfh arrangement might imply that some employees commute to the office place at a certain period of time: one day per week or one week each month…

Regular, scheduled in-person interactions might be necessary and you’ll need to be able to accommodate them to make your hybrid WFH model work.

What’s the Difference Between Hybrid Work and Hybrid Work from Home?

For yes, there is a key difference:

  • Hybrid work: a more of a flexible work arrangement where an employee can split his/her work week time between working remotely and working from the office
  • Hybrid WFH: some teams or entire departments work remotely most of the time, while other subsets of the organization work from the office.

Differences Between All-Remote and Remote-First

In a remote-first organization, all operations and workflows are designed so that they fit perfectly within the remote work setup. Remote work is the norm or endpoint that all processes arise from.

This means that:

  • There is no centralized location that employees can go to work together from (no headquarters).
  • Interviews are held via video calls.
  • All managers and those with leadership roles work outside of the office.
  • Team members have virtual calls (as opposed to hybrid calls).
  • All policies and procedures are designed so that the same evaluation criteria are used for promotion and everyone irrespective of his/her location/place of work are granted the same learning and growth opportunities.

Now that you have a bird-eye view of:

  • what the hybrid work from model is and, most of all, of what it isn’t
  • its top benefits, both for you, as an organization, and for your employees
  • the main challenges to expect and ways to navigate them

… it’s time to start planning. To start tailoring the model that best suits your organization’s needs and particular circumstances.

To create that healthy company culture that supports both on-premise and remote colleagues.

Topics: Office of the future

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