The concept of hybrid work is new, but companies are increasingly facing this issue when implementing workplace strategies. This has led many companies to explore hybrid workplace models that give employees flexibility to work remotely or in the office.
The term hybrid workplace refers to a business model that makes it easier for employees to work at a distance and both in the office. Whether or not an organization offers a hybrid work model depends on several factors, from the industry to the type of workplace. In some sectors, such as construction, mechanical engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality and retail, for example, remote work is not an option for most workers.
The most successful way to do remote work is to look at it not as a setup process, but as a remote worker afterwards. If remote is the first option, as Quora and Dropbox have done, it avoids many of the pitfalls of separating employees between office and remote, putting the entire company on a level playing field and rewarding those who work in office.
In a hybrid environment, employees and managers must prioritize – hour by hour, day by day, week by week – and structure their time to handle the most important tasks. Additional planning and attention to ensure the success of the hybrid model will make remote employees feel isolated and idle, which most companies working remotely would prefer to avoid. Technology fatigue can even occur in a virtual office, so in hybrid environments it is important that employees can schedule time for themselves.
Companies must give their employees a compelling reason to come to work and competing factors such as no commute time, relaxed dress codes and quiet can be hard to find in a busy office. For example, employees can sit in an office or a cabin and do their work as if they were doing it at home. As more workers return to work, employers need to decide whether they need an office or whether they just need to work virtually.
As we rethink the future of work, the benefits of distance and hybrid work for workers and employers are becoming increasingly clear. Work is less stressful, and communication gaps can be found in spaces such as home offices with poor Internet access. Executives who create engaging workplaces in commercial interiors with a “we-are-here” atmosphere know that they can be an example of customers switching to hybrid work environments.
A number of companies are beginning to consider how to support hybrid arrangements and the impact of hybrid work models on workplace policies, employee experiences, office design and occupancy rates in their real estate portfolios.
No one knows the full extent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Success in this environment requires a high degree of adaptability from both managers and employees working to shape the best way forward. Hybrid environments reward employees who can think and act quickly, who can organize and coordinate in complex and dynamic environments, and who are also able to establish and demonstrate their own trustworthiness in a low-visibility work environment. Employees with good networks and political awareness will be able to identify beneficial positions in these situations, build strong relationships, bridge the gap between face-to-face and remote work, and use informal connections to replace missing information.
Employees working in hybrid systems have higher job satisfaction and report well-being and mental health while working remotely than before the outbreak of the pandemic, as employees working on the ground. They also feel more productive when they work from home as they have a healthier balance between working at home and going to the office. Our study also found that employees working in hybrid systems were more positive about their HR team’s ability to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic and address their concerns about remote work.