The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the way people work - with lockdowns and social distancing, organizations globally quickly found out that not only does technology enable us to work from home, but it can also be beneficial for both organizations and their employees. History will now always recall how the COVID-19 crisis fueled the creation of what we call the 'Hybrid Work model'.
The hybrid work model is a combination of remote work and office work. For example, in duration of days, weeks, or months - Employees will work from home, and at other times will check-in to work in office. Thus, the Hybrid model allows employees to divide their between the office and remotely, such as working from home, at a coffee shop, coworking space, or even another city or country altogether.
The popularity of the Hybrid model presents an opportunity for organizations to drive levels of productivity and employee satisfaction in creating policy defining how often employees must come in to work from office, if at all. According to recent research conducted by Accenture, 83 percent of workers say that they prefer this hybrid workplace kind of arrangement at their company.
Like any other work model, there are pros and cons to hybrid work and we underscore that there exist both numerous benefits and challenges that the hybrid model inherently presents to organizations as they adapt to the Post-COVID workplace scenario. Below is a quick summary of both benefits and challenges that your organization will need to consider in designing and implementing the optimal hybrid work model for your teams.
Benefit #1: Increased Productivity
The hybrid model allows employees to better utilize their time. Working from home, Employees can save time commuting (goodbye rush-hour subway train rides), focus on tasks without the traditional noises and interruptions of the commute or office environment, or choose to schedule work for times known to be feeling most productive (hello night owls). When employees are happier, better rested, and less stressed, they are understandably also more productive.
Benefit #2: Employee Satisfaction
The biggest benefit of the hybrid model is undoubtedly happier employees. Let's face it, ever since the COVID pandemic began, many employees have been working from home and are loving it. Apart from the freedom of being able to choose your hours, not having to commute is often cited as the top Work-From-Home benefit. According to a recent survey, 1 in 4 workers has quit their jobs due to long commutes.
Benefit #3: Better Work-life balance
A recent study by Slack found that flexibility is a key reason employees are attracted to the hybrid workplace model. Finding balance is easier in a flexible work arrangement. When employees have more control of their work schedules, they can more flexibly free up time to take care of important things relating to their personal lives—whether it’s running an errand, picking up kids from school/daycare, or just being home for a delivery.
Pro #4: Hiring Remote Talent
In a hybrid work model, some companies can also hire talent remotely. Having access to a wider talent pool that will be WFH/remote means you can hire people with specialized skills from a larger remote pool. This can give your business teams a competitive edge, help you move into new markets, and help enable smooth business-as-usual operations (BAU).
Challenge #1: Burnout, Distractions, Stress
Left unchecked and with little or no supervision, a hybrid work model can sometimes lead to employee burnout. It sometimes be difficult to set boundaries when you’re working from home and the temptation to work late into the night and wake up at 10 am or even 11 am disrupts your sleep schedule. If you have other family members present in the house during the day, distraction is also an ever-constant factor. Eventually, work starts to pile up as you try to balance work and home life, potentially leading to burnout. Thus, working remotely can at times become stressful especially without good self-discipline.
Challenge #2: Remote employees can be at a disadvantage
In a hybrid work model, remote employees may find it harder to communicate with people on-site. Spontaneous conversations, immediate responses, and face-to-face interactions all help build workplace relationships and culture. Remote employees risk being passed over for promotions and high-profile assignments in favor of their onsite peers. By making the right investments in resources such as communication tools, you can bring remote employees into the fold and ensure they have the ability to remain as connected as their on-site peers.
Challenge #3: Increased Employee Isolation
A very common complaint of people working at home is a sense of isolation. At the office, there’s always someone to interact with, tell jokes or catch up on the latest office gossip. As social creatures, frequent mental stimulation and interaction with people are essential for our overall well-being. According to a report from CNBC, as the COVID pandemic drags on, remote workers are increasingly feeling more isolated and lonely, leading to mental health issues such as depression.
Challenge #4: Heightened Cyber Risks
With a hybrid work model, embracing technology is inevitable, and with technology comes security risks. Employees working from home are especially vulnerable to security threats and data loss due to more relaxed security protocols at home. Securing employees’ computers can be a costly venture for businesses. It means providing proper training, implementing the right tools, and making sure remote devices are always updated. A comprehensive data backup and cloud storage also needs to be designed and deployed.
The pandemic has taught us a lot about how we work. It’s proved that our usual routines can never be set in stone and that alternative ways of working are not just as viable but can also have a lasting impact on employee happiness, productivity, and well-being. The future of work is hybrid-flexible, and more businesses are turning to the hybrid model today as a way to attain the flexibility and balance employees require.
Your team here at AK Strategies is ready to assist your organization with a successful transition to a balanced hybrid workplace model with careful planning and design to reap sought benefits. With the right technology, people, and processes as a foundation, your organization can chart out a successful post-pandemic future with the optimal hybrid workplace in place.