Hybrid work is increasingly becoming ‘the new normal’. More employees today expect their companies to support their need for flexibility and me-time. Companies, for their part, are happy to explore alternative work models that promote employee wellbeing without compromising on business objectives.
In this article, we will introduce you to the benefits of the hybrid work model, and how to implement it at your organisation.
What is Hybrid Work?
The hybrid work model reframes the employer-employee relationship as flexible, people-focused, and outcome-focused. Hybrid work models allow employees to split their work hours between their office locations and homes, often multiple times a week. Therefore, it is a departure from the conventional 9-to-5 office culture that organisations have followed for decades.
Hybrid work models came into focus during the pandemic. According to a 2021 article in The Hindu, 86% of Indian professionals preferred a hybrid workplace model of working. With health, children, and family becoming concerns in the post-pandemic world, workers aren’t content to work rigid and inflexible hours.
With numerous business leaders coming out in favour of hybrid work models, organisations, too, are finding ways to take a middle-ground approach in which work-from-home meets work-from-the-office in a systematic and mutually agreeable manner.
Advantages of the Hybrid Work Model
Here are the main advantages of the hybrid workplace model:
Better work-life balance
Employees can spend quality time with their families and on their own. They have more time to pursue their interests or take new courses.
Increase in employee-employer trust
Working from home gives workers a higher sense of autonomy. Thus, hybrid models allow employees and employers to develop greater mutual trust and accountability.
Increases productivity and efficiency
Studies indicate that employees feel more energetic when they can work flexibly, and this helps them focus better on assigned tasks.
Lowers operating costs
As the need for larger working spaces reduces, organisations can save on operating costs, and utility-related costs.
Increases connectivity, communication, and collaboration
It promotes communication and engagement among employees and ensures healthier work relationships by providing space for employees to collaborate.
Improves mental wellbeing
Stress, finances, lifestyle, and other factors have a significant impact on an individual's mental well-being. The flexibility provided by the hybrid workplace model reduces employees' expenses, and saves commuting costs, time and energy, which allows for more quality time with the self and loved ones.
Health and safety
A hybrid workplace model enables organisations to prioritise employee health and safety by implementing social distancing and safety measures mandated by the respective governments.
The Three Types of Hybrid Workplace Models
1. Primarily office-based with limited remote working: Working from the organisation's physical office takes precedence over working from home, with only a limited amount of time allotted to the latter.
2. Office based, with regular remote working: Here, employees are empowered to divide their work-week into ‘from-office’ and ‘from-home’ days. The physical office remains important, but employees now have the option of working from two dissimilar locations for a fixed number of days per week.
3. Digital workspace with a physical office: In this type of hybrid workplace model, an organisation has a co-working space but the same does not serve as a hub. Employees work from home with occasional in-person meetings at the physical office. The virtual workspace is the primary working environment here.
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Tips to Transition to a Hybrid Work Model
Switching to a new work model for the first time in your organisation’s history can be difficult. Here are some tips to help you make the transition smoothly:
Do your research
Survey your employees to understand their preferences. It is essential to understand what they think and feel about the hybrid workplace model, the days of the week they would prefer to work from home or office, and what you can do to support them better through this transition.
Also learn from other organisations’ experiments and experiences with hybrid work and design your organisation's hybrid work model accordingly.
Be inclusive and fair
It is critical to keep vulnerable employees in mind while drafting your hybrid work policies, as change can be extremely difficult for them to adjust to. Also keep the policies fair and uniform for your people across hierarchies and functions.
If some roles or functions cannot be transitioned to hybrid work, explain the business necessity to those teams.
Communicate the changes clearly
Educate your people about the changes to follow and give them enough time to make the necessary changes to their lifestyle. Ensure that you provide adequate and objective information about the support that you can provide them.
Have socialising events
Hybrid work can disrupt social interactions at work. Hence, it is critical to ensure a mix of virtual and in-person activities that create and maintain healthy communication and increase employee cohesion.
Offer wellbeing support
Set up online and offline groups, as well as one-on-one meetings with skilled and experienced mental health experts, to provide employees with practical need-based and mental health support.
Provide quality tech support
It is essential in a virtual environment to provide your workforce with the right devices, tools and tech support that enable them to work remotely.
Creating guidelines around communication and time management can help combat inconsistency while allowing flexibility in work.
The hybrid workplace is not a new phenomenon, but it does seem to be catching on. How exactly you choose to design your hybrid model will depend on the nature of your industry and your vision. Viewing this transition through a progressive and proactive lens (instead of resisting the change) will help you win the trust and loyalty of your workforce.