A Beginner’s Guide to Hybrid Work
While the internet gave us the ability to work from anywhere, the adoption of hybrid work models didn’t take off overnight. Until they did.
Once a trendy benefit more likely to be offered by startups, hybrid work is now a wide-spread workplace conundrum for companies that made the sudden shift to remote work in the wake of the pandemic. Now, many of those same companies are seeking a balance between remote and in-office work.
However, leading a hybrid team requires the right tech, the right culture, and the right management. What that means varies between companies, but it’s safe to say everyone is feeling the whiplash and thinking about work differently.
Employees want more flexibility in where and when they work. Business owners want their employees to feel connected and engaged with their work. Both want to stay safe and healthy.
The good news is that hybrid work comes with benefits for both employees and companies. This guide can help you better understand the benefits of hybrid work, how to overcome hybrid work challenges, and help you get started on implementing a hybrid work model for your team.
What is a hybrid work model?
Hybrid work is a model in which companies extend their flexible work arrangements to employees by allowing them to work outside of the office one or more days per week, with a regular in-office schedule the other days. In some cases, companies also allow employees to choose when they work.
This mix of time and location flexibility creates a spectrum of hybrid work models that fall somewhere in between on-site employees with no time flexibility and fully remote employees with complete time flexibility.
What are the benefits of hybrid work?
It’s clear hybrid work is here to stay, but is it worth the shift? Numerous studies and surveys show that employees and companies can both benefit from hybrid work models. Let’s take a look at the numbers for key hybrid work benefits: productivity and happiness, talent attraction and retention, and reduced space costs.
1. Increase Productivity and Employee Happiness
Hybrid work can play a huge part in cultivating a culture of trust and flexibility, which in turn leads to an increase in productivity and happiness. And the research proves it.
For example, according to a 2021 Gartner survey, employees thrive when given flexibility. The percentage of high performers increased by 45% when workers were given the ability to choose when and where to work.
The 2021 State of Remote Work revealed that 90% of employees are as productive (or more) working outside the office, and 84% would be happier if they worked remotely post-pandemic.
In a survey from Avaya, respondents who reported an increase in happiness during the pandemic attributed it to being able to decide where to work (62%) and more trust from their employers (57%).
It should come as no surprise that more employees than ever are asking for hybrid work, which is why it can be a key benefit when it comes to attracting talent.
2. Attract and Keep Talent
Hybrid work has become a deal breaker for many employees and a major factor in job searches.
In the 2021 State of Remote Work, 1 in 3 employees reported that they would quit their job if not given the option to work remotely after the pandemic. 71% want a hybrid or remote work model.
Another study, conducted by Accenture, found that 83% of workers prefer a hybrid work model.
Employers take note. The same research showed 63% of high-growth organizations have hybrid work models, and 69% of negative or no-growth companies are fixated on where their employees will work, whether remote or on-site.
If you haven’t integrated more flexibility into your current work model, you are almost certainly missing out on talent. You also run the risk of losing talent to companies that have already put a hybrid work model in place.
3. Grow Without Increasing Space Costs
With countless offices sitting empty thanks to long leases, companies are rightfully eager to find a way to utilize their space more effectively. But what happens once the lease is up? If you’re facing the end of a lease and considering a hybrid work model, it may be a great time to downsize by diversifying.
A hybrid work model expands your talent pool, allowing you to hire incredible talent all over the globe without needing extra space. Plus, if you don’t have everyone in-office every day of the week, it makes sense to optimize space and save on costs.
What are the challenges of hybrid work?
Like all things, hybrid work has its imperfections, but proper planning can help you overcome many of these challenges. Here are three major factors to consider.
Not having everyone in-office makes communication a challenge. However, with plenty of options for instantaneous communication (e.g. Slack and Zoom) and project management software (e.g. Asana or Monday), keeping everyone on the same page is possible.
Creating clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) for team communication and project management can help ensure everyone understands how to communicate effectively. This can be as simple as ensuring team members tag each other directly in apps or as complex as fully fleshed out workflows.
Set clear expectations about communication by making sure your team knows what tools they need, where to find SOPs, and what date your communication plan goes into effect.
Pro tip: Don’t set it and forget it. Revisit your communication plan periodically, get feedback, and make improvements.
2. Workplace Culture
When your team works on-site, there are more opportunities to collaborate and build connections. You can also organize team building activities, breakfast potlucks, and birthday parties. Because everyone is physically present, creating a shared workplace experience is more straightforward.
But how do you translate this into a hybrid work model to ensure everyone feels included and appreciated? How do you offer a shared experience for a hybrid team?
Start by setting culture goals so that you have a clear and shared vision for your team. What are your company’s workplace values? How do you live those values and invite other team members to do the same?
Remote alternatives for in-office activities could include virtual happy hours, a weekly newsletter or meeting to celebrate your team’s accomplishments, or a birthday surprise sent by mail. By creating new digital rituals centered around inclusivity and appreciation, you give your team members more opportunities to engage with your company’s culture whether they’re in-office or at home.
“By creating new digital rituals centered around inclusivity and appreciation, you give your team members more opportunities to engage with your company’s culture whether they’re in-office or at home.”
3. Workplace Engagement
Working remotely, even for part of the week, can diminish workplace engagement by reducing the opportunities for connection. It can feel isolating to work from home where you have fewer spontaneous interactions and conversations.
Just like with culture, cultivating workplace engagement requires a thoughtful approach. The good news is that creating opportunities for engagement can be quite simple.
Consider setting up a casual company-wide chat on a platform like Slack to allow everyone to mingle digitally. Normalize turning cameras on during Zoom meetings. Ask leadership to schedule time for weekly check-ins with their team members.
However you choose to go about it, make sure you embrace the same rituals and values you ask your team members to engage in.
How do you create a hybrid work model?
Despite the flexibility of a hybrid work model, creating structure for your team will help you execute this model effectively. Of course, you will have to curate a hybrid work model for your company, but here are a few steps worth taking.
1. Evaluate the function of your office
Optimizing your workplace for hybrid teams may look different from a standard office setup. It’s important that you take the time to learn your team’s preferences when it comes to workstyles. A few questions to consider:
- Is there a difference between tasks best performed at home vs. in-office? How does that impact the layout of your space?
- Do dedicated desks still make sense? Or do you need more open seating?
- Do you need more breakout areas and common space?
- If you’re nearing the end of your lease, does it make sense to downsize or diversify?
2. Create policies for hybrid work
Consider the impact hybrid work will have on your company’s day-to-day operations. What policies need to be in place to ensure success? This could include:
- Setting online hours when everyone needs to be available.
- Setting requirements for in-office attendance.
- Standards for clear communication.
- Requirements for home office setup.
3. Coordinate schedules
Make it clear what days your team members work in-office and what days they work from home. Work with your team to review preferences and schedules. A coordinated effort will help you ensure that your workspace is being utilized effectively, maintain safe social distancing, and avoid confusion over when someone is supposed to work in-office.
4. Provide the right tools
Whether it’s covering the basics, like high-speed internet, or rolling out required software, make sure your entire team is taken care of when it comes to tools. Provide a clear list of tool requirements and easy access to tech support. This will help ensure everything runs smoothly and expectations are clear.
The good news? You’re likely using or are familiar with many of the tools needed for a hybrid team. Here are key considerations:
- Communication: How does your team stay in touch? If your team is spread across apps like Zoom, Google Meets, and Slack, consolidate down to one platform and set clear expectations for communication.
- Project Management: How do you ensure deadlines are clear and projects are on track? If not already in place, working with an expert to set up a project management app like Asana or Monday is well worth the time and investment.
- File Management: Services like Google Drive and Box make it easy to share files no matter where you are. Avoid using more than one and set naming conventions and organization standards.
- Workforce Management Software: For large teams, having an all-in-one solution for scheduling, time sheets, HR, and performance management makes sense. Choosing an option that’s user friendly for your employees and has all the features you need can be of huge benefit when shifting to hybrid work.
- Integrations: Do your tools integrate? Or does it make more sense to choose an all-in-one solution like Microsoft Teams? Making sure your tools work well together can save you future headaches.
Is hybrid work the future?
It’s clear that hybrid work is here to stay. Countless surveys show more and more organizations adopting hybrid work models due to the pandemic.
According to a McKinsey survey, 9 out of 10 organizations will be combining remote and in-office work moving forward. In fact:
“The majority of executives expect that (for all roles that aren’t essential to perform on-site) employees will be on-site between 21 and 80 percent of the time, or one to four days per week.”
– McKinsey & Company, May 17, 2021, “What executives are saying about the future of hybrid work”
A similar survey conducted by Salary.com showed that 51% of employer participants indicated that employees would be required to return to the workplace with the option of working remotely part of the week.
Results from the same survey revealed an almost 50/50 split between employees who want to remain fully remote (48%) and employees who want to work in-office part of the week (44%).
Not only has hybrid work become normalized, it’s also desired by employees. Workplace flexibility is here to stay and companies that adopt it sooner rather than later will benefit.
Offering the flexibility of hybrid work is increasingly important when it comes to attracting and keeping talent. To pull it off successfully, it’s important to consider both the benefits and challenges of adopting a hybrid work model. In summary:
- Hybrid work models blend in-office and remote work.
- Hybrid work can increase productivity, employee happiness, and give your company more room to grow.
- Plan ahead to overcome communication, culture, and engagement challenges.
- To create a hybrid work model, start by evaluating the function of your office, company policies, scheduling, and tools.
Where and how we work has changed but office space hasn’t. At Ledger, we offer flexible terms and a range of workplace options to support hybrid teams based in Northwest Arkansas.
We want to be your strategic partner and help you navigate your hybrid workplace in NWA. Connect with us below. We look forward to chatting with you!