The pandemic accelerated remote work trends, driving many businesses to adapt to a full-time, work-from-home model for months. Now, as offices begin to open up again, companies are evaluating the best path forward for their businesses and their employees.
Rather than return to business as usual, many companies are looking to incorporate hybrid work models. A hybrid work model is built on flexibility and autonomy, blending traditional office work and work-from-home (WFH) set ups.
According to a global hybrid work trends report by Statista, 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to continue.
“Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly—inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker […] All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work,” says Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft.
In this article, we’ll cover what a hybrid work model looks like and how you can successfully make the transition from WFH.
What does a hybrid work model look like?
Less than 20% of executives want to return to the office as it was pre-pandemic. But employees and the companies they work for aren’t always on the same page when it comes to what hybrid work should look like.
One survey found that 55% of employees want to be remote at least three days a week, while 68% of executives want employees in the office at least three days a week in order to preserve company culture. Last we checked, there are only five days in a typical work week, so we have some negotiating to do.
But there isn’t one right hybrid work model. Hybrid work can take many forms depending on the needs of your business, employee preferences, and resources.
A few common hybrid work options are:
- Remote-first. Employees work almost entirely from home as the default. The company may provide office workspace for those who want or need to work in a traditional environment, as well as for situations that require in-person collaboration or meetings (such as client-facing work).
- Office-centric. Employees are expected to work primarily from the office but are often allowed to work from home one or two days a week (sometimes on designated days like every Thursday/Friday). Office-centric is a popular model and works well for teams that prefer to collaborate in person or that work closely with clients, while providing some remote flexibility.
- Fully flexible. Employees can choose when they will work in the office or at home, and come and go as needed. This is popular with employees but can be more challenging to manage logistically to ensure office responsibilities are balanced fairly.
- Hybrid remote-office. Employees choose which model works best for them—in-office or remote. This model can solve some of the logistical challenges of a fully flexible model by setting predictable schedules and expectations. But it still requires management to ensure needs and responsibilities are fairly balanced.
Benefits of a hybrid work model
Adopting a hybrid work model has benefits for both employers and their employees.
- Employee retention. Employees value the flexibility and autonomy of hybrid work. In fact, FlexJobs found that 79% of survey respondents would be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work options.
- Better work-life balance. Employees enjoy the flexibility of a hybrid model because it allows them to balance their time and priorities more effectively, such as skipping the morning rush, taking a walk in the middle of the afternoon to recharge, or picking up kids from school.
- Access to top talent. If work isn’t tied to an office location, companies can widen the talent pool and recruit the best people for the job, no matter where they live.
- Optimized working conditions. When employees can choose when and how they work best, they can do better work and be more productive.
7 tips for switching to a hybrid work model
Hybrid work has clear benefits for the modern workplace, but implementing a new work model isn’t easy. Use the following tips to make the transition successful.
1. Solicit feedback from your team
Before moving forward on a hybrid work plan, ask for feedback from your employees.
- What working arrangements do they prefer?
- What schedule works best for them?
- Do they want more time in the office or more time at home?
- How do they want to communicate?
Answers to these questions can help you determine what hybrid model will work best for your team or overall business and effectively implement it.
Pro tip: Ask for feedback again after you’ve implemented hybrid work to see how the transition is going and what you can do to better support your employees.
2. Clearly define your policies
Hybrid work is flexible by nature, which leaves a lot of room for miscommunication and confusion if you don’t get everyone on the same page. Reduce friction by clearly defining your work policies from the start.
Outline expectations for:
- How and when employees will share schedules and availability
- How you will track who is in office
- Communication channels and frequency
- Use of office space and where people will work
- Equipment use and allocation, especially computer resources
Clarifying your policies upfront will help employees navigate the new work environment successfully and help prevent conflict or confusion as the team transitions.
3. Invest in collaboration software
Hybrid teams need the right tools to get the job done from anywhere. One of the biggest challenges of remote work is collaborating, so it’s important to invest in robust collaboration software.
Look for a solution like Lucidspark that makes it easy to brainstorm and collaborate on projects both in real time and asynchronously. Teams can use the infinite whiteboard to share ideas, map plans, and vote on options, no matter where the team is located. Features like freehand drawing, sticky notes, breakout boards, and timers improve communication, keep teams on task, and move the project forward.
4. Give everyone access to communication tools
Despite spending months working from home, many employees don’t have all the tools they need to succeed. According to a report by Microsoft, “42 percent of employees say they lack essential office supplies at home, and one in 10 don’t have an adequate internet connection to do their job. Yet, over 46 percent say their employer does not help them with remote work expenses.”
As you plan your transition to hybrid work, make sure you’re investing in the right resources for your employees to succeed both at home and in the office.
In addition to basic office supplies and infrastructure, make sure your team has access to remote communication tools and understands which communication channels to use for different tasks. This can include tools like email, phone, video conferencing, Slack, and even internal social platforms.
5. Make it simple to participate asynchronously
Flexible work means people are often working on different schedules, especially if your team is distributed across time zones. This makes asynchronous communication key to the success of a hybrid work model.
Document clear workflows for asynchronous communication to make it easy for employees to track conversation threads, project details, and assignments. Schedule regular check-ins to sync up and make sure everyone is on the same page.
6. Equip conference rooms with virtual conference technology
Turn your office conference rooms into hybrid communication centers that make it easy for team members to join meetings and presentations remotely. This is especially important for blended office environments because it ’s easy for remote workers to feel disconnected from the office workers who are meeting in person.
Work with your IT department to ensure your conference rooms can accommodate the needs of a hybrid team including:
- Video conferencing tools
- High-quality audio
- A clear visual of all participants
- Real-time sharing and collaboration capabilities
7. Mindfully maintain company culture
A hybrid work model can be a powerful advantage for your company culture, but only if you actively and mindfully cultivate it.
Help preserve team camaraderie and promote a shared culture across office and remote employees through inclusive and flexible team activities, company events, and policies. Train managers on effective communication and coaching to ensure remote workers receive equitable mentorship and networking opportunities.
Hybrid work is the model of the future, and with the right tools and plan in place, you can move forward with confidence.
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