Since the pandemic, companies are experiencing a renaissance of sorts due to the increasing popularity of the hybrid work model that has gained tremendous popularity that shows no indications of slowing down.
During the past few tumultuous years, many businesses were forced to shut down their centralized operations and compelled to find new ways to contact their employees and keep their employees connected as well as their customers and clients.
As a result, workers able to work from home were carving out an office space and performing their job entirely remotely, or for at least part of the week, taking shifts to keep social distancing maintained within the workplace.
These changes will result in an office environment like we have never seen before, nearly doubling the number of people who will be working remotely at least part of their week (compared with pre-pandemic numbers).
Before we delve deeper into the hybrid work model, consider these statistics from gallup.com:
- Pre-COVID, only 8% of remote-capable employees worked from home. During the height of COVID, about 70% of remote-capable employees worked exclusively from home. Today, 39% work exclusively from home
- Pre-COVID, 33% of remote-capable employees enjoyed a hybrid work arrangement. Today, 42% have a hybrid work arrangement
- Today, approximately 53% of remote-capable employees believe that they will continue with their hybrid work arrangement while 24% expect to work exclusively remotely
Working from Home
As you can see, the new hybrid work model has been embraced by many. Suddenly there are fewer aggravations usually experienced by traveling to a workplace, like getting kids ready for school on time, commuting in rush hour, and not having to take time off for appointments and emergencies.
Work became more flexible, and within their surroundings, studies show that some individuals became more focused, relaxed, and productive working away from a busy office environment. Another big plus was and is spending more time with their children and families in prime times, sharing family meals, and working during quieter times.
Remote Work is Not for Everyone
As the saying goes, there are two sides to every coin. After two years of health uncertainties and being socially distanced due to COVID from their coworkers, a healthy portion of the population is itching to get back into the office or workplace. Many employees experienced feelings of isolation and disconnectedness from their jobs, losing motivation from the lack of a collaborative environment.
For those accustomed to working independently as entrepreneurs or remote employees, it is understood that it takes a lot of discipline to maintain a healthy work/life balance. One can get caught up to the extent that work and personal life can become blurred, causing stress and tension with family and friends.
Hybrid Work Models
The pandemic continues to force businesses to evolve and adjust their traditional model to accommodate the changing attitudes within the workplace. One can argue that hybrid models incorporate the best of both worlds, with employees enjoying the benefits of more freedom and flexibility. From sole proprietorships to multi-million-dollar corporations, employers are reaping the rewards of increased worker focus and productivity.
Meeting in the Middle
Yet, some research indicates that hybrid work models may also create unexpected negative repercussions. Some employees desire more distinction between home and work life and enjoy the security of a centralized location and accessibility to their colleagues. Therefore, many companies are adopting a hybrid model to accommodate those who can work remotely and those who desire to work full-time in the workplace.
Benefits of a Hybrid Work Model for Employees
Added flexibility in working hours means that employees can adjust their hours to spend more quality time with children and attend school events.
Increased productivity and attention to detail are two effects that remote employees have described, as they can work unfettered and without as many distractions within a busy office environment.
Easier accessibility to outside meetings with customers comes with the added independence of working remotely.
Remote employees can also save quite a chunk of change by not eating out as much, not putting their kids into expensive daycare 5 days/week, and not needing to regularly dry clean or purchase clothing attire for the workplace.
In addition, with no daily commute, employees can save money on gas and car maintenance. The average price for regular gas in Los Angeles as of this writing is $6.35/gallon. Paying for costly parking can also be avoided.
Benefits for Business Owners
Lower overhead costs by eliminating a centralized location are significant savings for companies who find they are paying for an over-large space with fewer employees. In fact, some companies are eliminating their brick-and-mortar locations altogether and going virtual. That said, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), “outside of the office sector, which is lagging behind as employers allow increased remote work flexibility to keep and attract talent, commercial real estate continues to strengthen. The industrial sector is booming, retail is turning positive, the hotel industry is recovering, apartments are doing very well, and rents are rising in all commercial sectors.”
Companies report that remote employees seem happier and more focused when having a hybrid work schedule due to a better job and life balance.
With the global marketplace, employers are no longer restricted to hiring local area talent but can expand their workforce opportunities well beyond local resources.
Employers can expect to experience increased visibility of employee performance due to virtual information sharing since all employees would typically be working within the same network.
With updated technology, companies experience increased, and faster collaboration with employees and their network of suppliers and customers, as more businesses are jumping on the technology train to communicate.
Enhancing the Workplace
Some companies are taking innovative steps to attract their employees back to the workplace, from renovations to updating, expanding, and brightening the workspace to the addition of amenities like lounge areas, functional kitchens, daycare facilities, and fitness gyms. In doing so, reluctant employees are slowly being lured back to their company headquarters and reconnecting with their colleagues.
Technology and Hybrid Models
One of the biggest challenges that companies face in merging remote and location working is ensuring that the necessary technology is accessible and available to all employees. Companies rely on technology to maintain communication amongst employees, managers, and their network of suppliers or clients. Remote employees will require a reliable communication channel, especially if the business keeps its overhead down by having only a virtual office.
New Employer Attitudes
The future of the global marketplace is beckoning, and its name is the hybrid workplace. The hallmarks of increased collaboration, connectivity, and flexibility mean that it is doubtful that we will see a return to the traditional workplace, except in specific industries and job roles where remote working is not feasible.
Besides making physical changes to their office environments, companies are also changing how they relate to their employees. It starts with placing more trust in a worker’s abilities to meet their responsibilities away from a central location and being more compassionate to the needs of employees outside of the workplace.
Hybrid models don’t work for everyone, but they can certainly offer innovative solutions to keep businesses moving ahead in these uncertain times. Millennials seem to be the sector within the workforce that are most likely to desire remote work. Therefore, if a company wishes to stay current and attract the newest talent, it will need to look at its current work model and adjust.
Complexities abound, yet with a good strategy and an open approach that incorporates the input of their workers, companies can find a hybrid model solution that will work for everyone.