Hybrid Work Models and How to Support Them
Remote work exploded during the pandemic. With employers forced to adopt a work-from-home model to protect employees from COVID-19, businesses across the board adopted technology to facilitate remote work and discovered how productive and efficient working from wherever can be.
As coronavirus cases decline and people return to work, a lot of companies are using hybrid work models instead of expecting employees to go back to the office full-time. A significant reason for this is that remote work turned out to be a good thing for both employees and employers. With a hybrid model, business leaders can realize the benefits of both in-office and remote work.
Here’s a look at the push behind a hybrid return to work and what employees can do to support a more flexible workplace post-pandemic.
Why Hybrid Work Models Are Here to Stay
Back in April of 2020, when the pandemic was still in its early days, the research-based consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics predicted that the pandemic would trigger a sizeable change in the world of work: 25 to 30 percent of the workforce would work from home more than one day a week, even after the threat from the virus had passed.
Fast-forward a couple of months to June, and those estimates look modest.
- 76 percent of global office workers want to continue working from home post-pandemic.
- 82 percent of U.S. office workers say they want to continue to work from home, at least weekly.
But, this doesn’t mean people want a complete change. According to research by the same firm, only 16 percent of global employees and 19 percent of U.S. employees want to say goodbye to in-office workdays.
With employers realizing how much they can save on office space and travel expenses without sacrificing productivity, adopting hybrid work models is a win-win for everyone. There’s still the social interaction. Work still gets done. But the burden of commuting each day and dealing with office distractions and stress has lifted.
What Will Hybrid Work Look Like?
A hybrid work model refers to any model that involves a combination of in-office work time and work-from-wherever time. The specifics of your model will depend on a number of factors such as office space, what your employees prefer, and how many staff members you need in the office.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your business’s hybrid model:
- Will employees come to the office a set number of days, such as two days in the office and three at home?
- Are those days fixed, or can they change each week?
- Are there specific requirements for meetings, or will your company offer the flexibility of virtual meetings, giving your employees more agency over where they work?
- If your organization cuts back on office space, how will these changes impact scheduling? Will employees have to follow a staggered schedule so that there are never too many people in the office?
5 Ways Employers Can Support Hybrid Workers
A hybrid work model in itself doesn’t guarantee a productive, engaged, and efficient workforce. Employers need to take action to ensure all employees are supported.
- Talk to your staff to find out what their preferences are. Just because global and national surveys say a certain percentage of employees want two or three days of remote work, it doesn’t mean that’s what your employees want. Take an in-house survey to find out where your team stands on the remote work debate.
- Set clear goals. Make it clear what’s expected in terms of productivity, in-person and virtual participation, and check-ins.
- Onboard new employees. While your existing team may be remote-work pros at this point, your new employees may need help adapting to a hybrid work model. Create a system for onboarding new employees. For example, put together training material on remote work best practices and cybersecurity essentials, virtually meet with new employees every day for an initiation period, and invite feedback on your organization’s model.
- Provide resources for remote employees to keep them engaged and to ensure they have the right setup at home. Ergonomic office furniture, suggestions on privacy and quiet time, and secure hardware can all help to boost productivity.
- Support your employees with the right tools. With cloud communications technology, collaboration and productivity will be seamless whether employees are at home, in the office, or working in another location.
Here are some of the essential tools for hybrid work:
- Cloud-based phone system. With VoIP technology, calls are sent over the internet. Employees can make calls from anywhere they have an internet connection – they don’t have to be in the office to make and receive business calls.
- Unified communications. A UCaaS solution streamlines communication by housing all of your tools in one platform and integrating data. Video conferencing, phone, chat, and file sharing all happen from one place.
- Contact center software. If you have contact center agents, use a cloud-based contact center solution to empower them to work from wherever.
Find Your Happy Hybrid Medium
Hybrid work models are a balance between remote and in-office. When done well, they provide the structure and social interaction that comes with working in an office, as well as the agility and independence of working from home. As your organization establishes a post-pandemic work model, be flexible with the details until you hit the perfect balance for your teams.