While rushing a new trend of hybrid working, it’s easy to forget why employees demand it in the first place, and what are the challenges it brings. Thus, many hybrid working attempts fail. This article will help you confirm your expectations and shed light on aspects you will need to focus on when introducing a hybrid work model.
What is hybrid work?
Let’s sum it up a bit: hybrid work, is a flexible work model that allows people to work from both a traditional office and their home offices. Not at the same time of course, unless they decided to move into the office 🙂
Now, let’s put the definition aside as it may suggest that a phenomenon of hybrid work is simply letting people work from home. I’d rather recommend thinking of it as a new approach to how we understand working in general.
Well organized hybrid work isn’t just giving an opportunity of working from home in some stiff 2/3 or 3/2 models. Hybrid work is about handing employees flexibility and autonomy to adjust schedules to better fit their lifestyles. Hybrid work is about freeing work from office walls and making it more approachable despite personal circumstances employees face.
The advantages of working hybrid
Keeping this broader understanding in mind, let’s discuss some of benefits that stem directly from working hybrid. It’s worth remembering those are only general benefits which will relate to lion’s share of companies, and you can benefit from hybrid work in many other ways.
“Balance it”: Hybrid work improves employee wellbeing
In a Microsoft study, 53% respondents said that they are more likely to prioritize their wellbeing over work. What about the remaining 47%? I’d say that they have already done this, rather than prioritizing work. I guess the pandemic was a huge reminder of what really matters in life for all of us.
Fortunately, hybrid work improves employees wellbeing and it has already been measured. Flex workers, among other things, report improved mental health and being able to fit more physical activity in their lives.
“Save tonight”: Hybrid work helps companies cut owned office space
74% of CEOs from Fortune 500 companies plan to reduce their spendings by cutting off owned office space. You won’t believe how they want to do that. Yeah, hybrid work is an answer. Seems impossible? Let’s take Cisco for example. The company was able to save around $500 million during 5 years of working hybrid, by cutting 50% of its real estate footprint. Cost reduction thanks to hybrid work isn’t just possible, it’s withing arm’s reach.
“What a wonderful world”: Hybrid work goes had in hand with a smaller carbon footprint
We all know how morning commute and afternoon rush hours work – you waste a lot of time slowly crawling through the city, letting fumes to the environment. Too bad if it is just to do the work you could as well do in your home office.
Hybrid work’s solution is simple. Fewer days in the office = less commuting = less carbon footprint created. This becomes more important for employees as even 44% of them expect their companies to have sustainability goals and to achieve them. Sustainability can mean having a sustainable office and having a sustainable product development and selling.
“I’m flexy and I know it” – Knowledge employees expect hybrid work as a perk from employers
Did you know that even 94% of knowledge workers want schedule flexibility and 74% expect location flexibility? The pandemic showed us that flexible working is possible, and it doesn’t cause companies to collapse. Mix it with raising awareness of wellbeing and BOOM, suddenly everyone wants to adjust work to life, not the other way around. The numbers speak for themselves.
If companies offer hybrid work as a benefit to their employees, then this can also serve as a competitive advantage. Recent data shows that employees are also willing to sacrifice salary in order to benefit from hybrid work.
“Ready, steady, work!”
The flexibility we’ve just discussed also gives you a huge advantage during black swan events. Employees ready for hybrid work are also prepared to perform responsibilities despite the circumstances. Going hybrid makes your company more risk-proof. It can save you and your people a lot of confusion and unnecessary expenses.
The disadvantages of working hybrid
Let’s be real, every change brings some challenges. The same applies to the hybrid work model. Fortunately, its hardships aren’t many.
Hybrid work is not for everyone
Let’s start with the biggest “ouch” for the hybrid model: not every company can introduce it. Some jobs require employees to be on site, otherwise the work cannot be done. Thanks to technology the list of those jobs is becoming shorter and shorter every year. Thus, it’s good to give hybrid work a shot to some extent. In the end no one expected doctors’ tele visits to be real and still we experienced them during the pandemic.
Security at risk
Cyber security has become one of the biggest concerns of modern companies. It’s easier to take care of it with on-site devices than with all your employees’ equipment. When working hybrid, you will need to underline the importance of security protocols that your people need to follow in order to maintain your data safety.
Relationship building can be a challenge in a hybrid work environment
If you are researching the topic of hybrid work, you probably came across a discussion about employees’ relationships and working atmosphere suffering because of rare office visits. That’s kinda true. According to Microsoft report, 43% of leaders say relationship-building is the greatest challenge in hybrid and remote work.
Maintaining team spirit while working hybrid can indeed be challenging. However, it doesn’t mean it is impossible. Earlier practices have become a bit outdated and thus we need to think about and implement new ideas on how to make people more connected.
Unfortunately, hybrid work won’t strike your office with a magic spell of perfect working environment. I wish it could 🙂 If you want to benefit from a new way of working, you will need to adjust and experiment. Try to gather some data on the office usage and employees working habits. Based on that knowledge you will be able to change ineffective practices and see what works best for your company.