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What Is Hybrid Work?
Hybrid work refers to the arrangement of employees splitting their working hours between their normal office building and their home. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid work was largely an extra perk that companies might offer to entice new hires into joining. Nowadays, it’s imperative for companies to offer at least some degree of flexibility in their employees’ work schedules. The widespread use of hybrid work has its benefits and drawbacks, and it is changing the landscape of the normal nine to five job.
What Are the Benefits of Hybrid Work?
Many people prefer hybrid work to the traditional office-based schedule due to the flexibility it allows. Hybrid work potentially poses greater challenges to managers than to their employees, but it has benefits for everyone. The biggest benefits of hybrid work are as follows:
Better Work-Life Balance
Many people who’ve been able to work from home more often since early 2020 will tell you how great it’s been to spend time at home and with family. This benefit is the most direct result, of course, as it allows people the comfort of working in their own home. People can more easily manage personal demands, such as doctors appointments and taking their children to and from school. It’s also convenient for taking breaks to recharge, which is crucial to maintain productivity.
Lower Operational Costs
With more employees working at home for a big chunk of the week, companies themselves don’t need to spend as much money on office utilities and supplies. Companies have been able to lower expenses and allocate their funds elsewhere as hybrid work has become more widespread. As for employees, spending less money on gas on the commute is a nice bonus too.
An extension of the work-life balance enabled by hybrid work is that workforces can potentially become more diverse. This balanced schedule has allowed new parents, especially mothers, to continue working while still caring for their children. Additionally, hybrid work enables companies to hire people throughout a wider geographic area. Since studies have shown that diversity can bring about more creative ideas, companies should do what they can to cultivate diversity, and this includes implementing hybrid work schedules.
More Environmentally Friendly
Fewer cars on the road and lower energy usage by companies is another clear benefit of hybrid work. Not only do these conditions help the environment, but a company’s commitment to eco-friendly solutions such as hybrid work can be a powerful draw to potential new hires that share the same values.
What Are the Disadvantages of Hybrid Work?
Blending work and home life is a double-edged sword. Some of the aspects of hybrid work that people appreciate can also have a downside. The most common disadvantages of hybrid work are as follows:
Potential for Social Isolation
With the traditional model of working in-office five days a week, there is rarely a lack of social interaction with co-workers. But with hybrid work, people often miss talking to their office neighbors in person, even if they don’t realize it. This is because humans are social beings and it’s unhealthy to be deprived of regular social interaction. Too much of this isolation can lead to depression or anxiety, so it’s important for employees to maintain regular interactions with their co-workers.
Greater Cost to the Employee
Even though companies save money, the employees tend to bear a little extra cost in hybrid work arrangements. Most commonly, employees need to spend more on upgraded home internet to keep working effectively and may spend more on their utility bills. Most people will also probably want to invest in some new furniture to make for a more comfortable working space, or even search for a new home with more space. These costs can seem marginal, depending on the situation, but they can add to increased stress levels.
Work Can Impose On Personal Life
Many people have reported that with hybrid work they take breaks more often but end up working later into the day. In essence, this means that their work is encroaching into their personal lives. To combat this, it’s important to set boundaries for both home and work to avoid distractions at home during business hours, or to avoid checking your email after hours.
How Can I Implement a Hybrid Work Model?
Companies should take careful consideration of making these arrangements with their employees. Managers will want their team members to enjoy the benefits of hybrid work while ensuring the quality of their work is not being sacrificed. These are a few tips for implementing a successful hybrid work model:
Use a Versatile Business Communication Platform
In today’s world, organizations of any size cannot expect to operate effectively without a means of instant communication. This is especially true for hybrid work. A workforce needs the capability to instant message, make phone and video calls, share their computer screens in real time and share information with their teams in an organized manner.
Business communication platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams are essential to keep co-workers connected, especially in a hybrid work model.
Establish Regular Communication With Your Team
Since face-to-face interactions between team members are so infrequent with this model, it is crucial to maintain regular communication between team members, even if it’s virtual. It can be easy for people to feel isolated or insignificant when their only interactions with others are via messaging or email. On days where in-person interactions aren’t possible, phone calls (or even better, video calls!) help maintain human connections.
Stick to a Routine
Managers and employees should decide on a schedule that is fair and accommodating to both parties. For example, if they decide that the employee will be in the office on Mondays and Wednesdays, they should do everything possible to stick to that agreement. This consistency will help others know when to expect you at the office. Keeping a regular cadence will also help employees stay organized, both in their professional and personal lives.
What Are Some Challenges to Managing a Hybrid Workforce?
The benefits of hybrid work are certainly worth pursuing. However, companies need to know the risks and challenges involved in this work arrangement. Some of the most common challenges include:
Having less face-to-face interaction makes it more difficult for managers to determine whether or not their employees are performing optimally. A hybrid work model compels managers to focus on quantifiable results rather than on how many hours people are spending at work. This is easier said than done, but it is important that employees know how their success is measured and perceived. Managers need to set clear expectations that achieving results is what matters.
Consistent and clear communication is hard enough in a large organization and hybrid work tends to make it harder. On the smaller level, managers should check in with their team members at least several times per week, if not daily. On a larger scale, executive leadership needs to ensure they use the right channels to communicate company-wide changes or updates. Nobody wants to feel left out of important news, so communication is key to keep business moving in a positive direction.
Training and Onboarding
Hybrid work can be especially hard on brand new employees. HR and hiring managers need to ensure that their new hires have the necessary equipment such as phones and computers starting day one. More difficult than this, though, is getting the new hire trained without frequent in-person interaction. To help new hires feel comfortable in hybrid work, it’s critical for managers and their team members to keep in contact with them and to help them feel like they belong.
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I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from BYU and have four years of professional experience in HR and Recruiting. I am also currently pursuing my MBA. No matter the field or setting I’ve been involved in at work or school, I’ve always really enjoyed writing in a way that makes the subject at hand relatable to the reader.
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