Since the recent pandemic, work environments have gone through massive adaptations and businesses have had to contest with updated employee demands. One such demand has been the flexibility in traditional work structures. Remote work, which was previously associated with freelancers, has become mainstream. Lately, the hybrid work model has also risen as an attractive alternative.
Since the hybrid model provides employees the freedom to choose their schedule, it can have a strong impact on employees’ work-life balance for the better. But there are pros and cons to it and so employers have to be careful while implementing a sustainable hybrid workplace.
I will be going over some of the pros and cons as well as some of the common reasons why a hybrid work model might not be working for you.
What is Hybrid Work?
The term “hybrid work” refers to a flexible strategy that allows employees to divide their time between working in the office and working from home. The primary goal of a hybrid workplace is to provide employees with flexibility in how and where they work, as well as a better work-life balance. Employees in a hybrid work arrangement should be able to smoothly switch between home and the office without losing productivity.
The degree of freedom in hybrid work varies.
Here are some examples of mixed work policies used by businesses:
Remote-First: Employees can choose which days they want to come into the office on a hybrid basis.
Hybrid split-week: By team or function, the organization assigns certain days for on-site and remote work. Managers choose which days their teams come into the office on a hybrid basis.
A hybrid mix is a combination of all possibilities.
What Were The Factors Leading To Hybrid Work?
During the pandemic, businesses moved to remote work and employed virtual collaboration technologies to be productive, and hybrid work emerged as a viable work arrangement. While some firms had hybrid and remote workers before the pandemic, the transition from in-person meetings to kitchen-table virtual collaboration happened overnight.
Organizations are now implementing hybrid work models to provide greater freedom to employees while keeping the in-person connections that are critical for the corporate community and culture, after learning the benefits and limitations of remote work.
Several surveys and studies have revealed the factors motivating hybrid work:
- According to McKinsey, the majority of CEOs have observed significant benefits in individual productivity, diversity, and inclusion as a result of remote work.
- According to Dimensional Research, 57% of employees would contemplate leaving their employer if they had to return to the workplace full-time.
- Businesses perceive an opportunity to save money on travel and real estate: According to Fortune, 74% of CEOs of large firms anticipate minimizing office space.
- Sustainability is a priority: According to Nature, daily global CO2 emissions declined by 19% during the recent epidemic, approximately half of which was due to reduced ground traffic.
All these factors have contributed to the popularity of the hybrid work model.
What are the Advantages of Hybrid Work?
There are many advantages to hybrid work which is why it has become so popular over the last few years when the pandemic was at its peak.
1. Travel Time and Cost Savings
When people are working remotely from home, they save up a lot of time and money that they would otherwise have spent getting ready and traveling to and from work. These cost savings and freed-up time create opportunities that employees can use to spend on their hobbies and out-of-work passions.
They can use this time to learn new skills, pick up an instrument, or learn a new language. And they can spend more time with their family and friends. Overall, it serves as a better social engagement opportunity and leads to a better quality of life.
2. Greater Flexibility Means Greater Productivity
Normal work hours are usually from 9 to 5, which is ideal for early risers but not so much for night owls. And there is significant research showing that the human sleep cycle varies from person to person and was developed during evolution.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would hunt during the day, while the night owls would protect the clan at night. So translating this to today’s world, not all of us are meant to work during the day. But with the flexibility of working from home, employees can set their own time and be more productive as a result.
3. Lower Risk of Getting Sick
Some people are hesitant to return to crowded places after the last two years. 87% of employees indicated they were concerned about their health and safety when it came to returning to work last year.
In a hybrid workplace, fewer people work at the same time. This reduces the possibility of a sick employee infecting others. And, because most hybrid work models allow people to work remotely, a sick employee can stay at home to safeguard their teammates.
Companies are now imposing employee safety precautions as workplaces open up. It could include health exams or confirmation of vaccination for employees and visitors to the company.
What are the Disadvantages of Hybrid Work?
At the end of the day, hybrid work is still work. And it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are a few cons to hybrid work as well that you should be aware of.
Isolation and Loneliness
If you don’t have a healthy group of friends or a support system that includes a significant other, working from home can lead to isolation, loneliness, and even depression. If you’re working in an office, you get to interact with other people and gain a sense of belonging and community. But it isn’t the case with remote work.
If you work at an office, you can have the opportunity to carpool, interact and socialize at work parties, and even become familiar with people who take the same route as you. Thus, hybrid work can make socializing harder, consequently leading to loneliness.
Hybrid work can cause complacency and messed-up schedules. The reason is, managers and supervisors overlooking staff in an onsite work environment take discipline and punctuality very seriously, and when these forces aren’t part of the equation, workers tend to lose focus.
Plus, working half the time from home and the rest in the office can mess up people’s schedules, and they can often miss important functions, deadlines, or meetings, possibly expecting to lose track of dates they were supposed to be at the office.
What Can Businesses Do To Overcome The Flaws Of Hybrid Work?
a. Hold Social Events
When it comes to employees feeling isolated and lonely, managers can organize weekly get-togethers for employees working from home. They can look at the schedule of other employees who are working from home that day and encourage them to meet at a bar or a restaurant that is nearest to all the parties involved.
Also, hold daily check-ins to see how everyone is holding up at their end. And this should be non-work-related and more of a social courtesy to make everyone feel comfortable and included.
b. Use Employee Productivity Tools
As far as employees getting complacent and losing focus, it is best to hold meetings over Skype or Zoom to see how their assigned work and daily tasks are going. Communicate over Slack, if you feel you want a quick update that doesn’t warrant a whole meeting.
Use productivity tools to ensure employees working from home are on the right track. Managers who use an app to track employee activities have found great results in achieving deadlines and enhancing the productivity of employees who are slacking.
These apps make it easier for managers to set restrictions on the type of websites employees can access and even block apps and games on their phones. Like, blocking YouTube, so employees don’t spend time watching videos all day.
A good app to track employee activities has all these features plus the ability to take screenshots so managers do not have to check up on their employees’ tasks repeatedly. All the work activities will be automatically shown to them in the form of screenshots. If you don’t know where to start, there are a few tools that keep workers more engaged and productive that you can check out to make hybrid work for you and your employees more productive and manageable.
The hybrid model seems the way to go as it tries to maintain a healthy balance between in-person work and remote work, which appeases both employers and workers. The downsides associated with hybrid work can be overcome through employee monitoring and frequent meetings, but these are far few anyway.
For now, the trend is here to stay and we hope more companies start implementing this model in the future too.