The COVID-19 epidemic forced many employers to institute remote work for their employees, something that many employees had wanted for years. Now the cat has been let out of the box, it’s not willing to go back in. A recent study by Microsoft shows that almost three-quarters of workers surveyed like the flexibility of remote work and want it to stay.
In the current tight job market, employers are having to bend to the demands of employees for fear of losing them, which includes instituting new work models that suit both the needs of the employer and those of the employee. Hybrid work is such a model.
This article explains what hybrid work is, why it is a growing trend, and the advantages and disadvantages it offers to companies and their employees.
The hybrid work model offers the best of both worlds. It is a blend of in-office work and remote work. For example, an employee might work at home or an off-site location two days a week and commute to the office three days a week. Another example of a hybrid work model is where some employees work remotely most or all of the time, and others are on-site full-time or most of the time.
Cloud technology has made remote work more accessible because files can be stored and accessed outside of a company’s network and firewalls, resolving some of the security issues. Many collaboration and conferencing tools are cloud-based and accessible from anywhere.
A hybrid work model includes everything practiced under remote work with some add-ons. Essentially, remote workers are incorporated into the hybrid model. No hybrid work model is the same because each company’s policies will differ.
That said, the table below shows the main differences between hybrid and remote work models.
If employees have long wanted the flexibility and work-life balance that hybrid work models provide, why do employers continue to resist in some cases? According to the Society for Human Resource Management, in the United States, 72 percent of managers would prefer all their subordinates to be in the office.
Some argue that managers are resistant to change or fear losing control because they can no longer “keep an eye over staff.” And there are fears associated with remote or flexible work that some workers share, such as the inability to network and a perception that there will be fewer career opportunities open to them. According to the Microsoft study, 65% of employees want more in-person time with their teams.
So, can hybrid work models answer the needs of employers and employees who want both the flexibility of remote work and the option to come to the office? Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid model.
Although hybrid work models may seem the perfect answer with advantages for employers and employees, there are also disadvantages for both parties.
The hybrid model allows for onsite face-to-face collaboration among teams while also allowing remote work for those who's best work is done alone. This boosts employee engagement, well-being, morale, and productivity.
The hybrid model can result in higher retention rates and attract talent. The flexibility to work remotely is a huge perk and an attraction for job seekers.
There is less time spent on low-value tasks like commuting with the hybrid model.
Hybrid models offer more time in the workday to focus on high-value tasks.
Hybrid work models are more inclusive for those with outside-work responsibilities, like care-giving, or those with physical or mental disabilities.
The pressure to work both at the office and remotely can mean that the lines blur between work and personal time. This can increase stress. A hybrid work model introduced by Apple caused some employees to resign due to burnout.
Companies need to provide secure access to technologies, software, video conferencing, and apps. This requires attention to and investment in identity management procedures such as zero-trust security.
Distractions at home, like children, pets, and housework, can be worse than distractions at the office.
Company culture might be such that in-office workers with more face time are perceived as more dedicated than their remote team members.
Some companies might be tempted to use employee tracking software, which can backfire and affect morale.
Employees who can take advantage of a hybrid work arrangement should clarify the work policy and procedures. This will avoid any surprises or being penalized for taking advantage of work options. Questions to ask your employer are the following:
How will my work schedule be divided between remote and in-office time?
Am I locked into a schedule, or are days at the office flexible? Do I need to schedule in-office hours in advance, and how far in advance?
Am I required to work set hours, and will I be required to come in for certain team meetings or other activities?
Will I have a dedicated workspace in the office, and will I be given equipment to use remotely?
Are there any policies regarding performance assessments and equitable opportunities for remote employees?
How are managers and leadership trained for a hybrid work environment?
Check out Placement's Remote Job Board to find companies hiring remotely.
Whatever your opinion on a hybrid workforce, the bottom line is that employers are warming to the idea. A Gallup survey showed that employees who worked remotely some of the time both pre-pandemic and after the COVID-19 pandemic had the highest engagement. Also, according to the Microsoft study, almost two-thirds of business decision makers are considering redesigning office spaces to better accommodate hybrid work. That’s good news for hybrid teams who enjoy better work-life balance. And those who don’t, still have the option to work onsite.