At home and in the office—what does a hybrid work look like?
Do you remember the early days of the pandemic? It was a very difficult and uncertain time, during which both employees and companies didn’t know what their work would look like—that’s when the remote mode, not very popular at the time, was implemented. When the first dust settled and the pandemic became our new reality, some companies went back to the office, others stayed on remote, and still others decided to combine the advantages of both models and put in place a hybrid model. Just, what is working in a hybrid model, what advantages does it have, and what challenges does it pose to both the employee and the employer? We answer these questions in the article. Enjoy your reading.
Hybrid work has more than one face
Depending on the organization’s arrangements and the specifics of the work, the employer can introduce hybrid work in several ways. The first model involves a permanent division of employees into those working remotely and those working stationary—that is, for example, 30 percent always working remotely, and the remaining 70 percent always from the office with the possibility of occasional remote work.
Another type of hybrid work is rotation, which means dividing employees into groups that swap – once one group works in the office, once remotely. The change can take place every few days or weeks, it depends entirely on internal arrangements.
The third type involves the advantage of working remotely, but with permanent access to an office, where the team can, for example, hold meetings with clients.
The choice of any of the three types depends, among other things, on what industry the company works in, whether “live” meetings are necessary, or if employees are given access to the necessary tools also at home or only at the company’s headquarters. It is, of course, possible for a company to develop its own model of hybrid work.
Is hybrid work a good solution?
As a person who works mostly remotely, I can answer the above question – yes, as much as possible! Unfortunately, you can’t be that much of a hurra optimist. Of course, hybrid work has many advantages, but also disadvantages, both for the employer and the employee.
The introduction of remote work is a significant time and money saver. The employee doesn’t have to spend an extra hour or two commuting to work, and he also keeps the money he would have spent on fuel or tickets. The company, in turn, can save on renting office space. Working from home is also a greater opportunity for people with disabilities and for students who want to combine study and work.
Hybrid work also helps introduce a good work-life balance, as the time an employee would normally spend commuting can be used to relax, spend time with family, play sports or pursue their passions. This, in turn, translates into better well-being.
“Respondents (…) pointed to two very practical issues – less time spent commuting (66%) and generated savings on expenses such as fuel or food (47%). Also ranked high among the advantages (…) more flexible hours for performing duties (36%) and greater efficiency (24%). Last in the top five was the ability to arrange and choose one’s own workstation (23%).” – reports the report prepared by Pracuj.pl.
Remote working opens up the job market to the world
The ability to work remotely also expands recruitment opportunities, as the new employee does not have to live in the same city as the company’s headquarters. This allows companies to hire experienced professionals, in turn, a person looking for a new position does not have to be location-driven. In addition, “working in the field” makes the team closer to the customer, and therefore the employee better understands the customer’s needs and is more creative.
“Organizations can leverage talent around the world. Physical availability, until now crucial for many companies, is no longer so important. Teams can be assembled based on the best available experience and skill sets available not only in a given city, but also across the country or in neighboring countries. This allows companies to increase their recruiting resources and, last but not least, to give people who are excluded or from excluded areas a chance to work.” – Radoslaw Pawlak of Symetria UX, which conducts User Experience for Product Management training, commented.
Unfortunately, hybrid work also has downsides….
Not all companies can afford to go into remote work mode – it depends on the industry and the tools employees need to accomplish their tasks. The lack of a shared office space also makes it more difficult to integrate the team, and as you know, a group of employees who know and understand each other well means smooth cooperation and fewer conflicts within the team. The lack of integration can be an even bigger problem for new employees, who may feel excluded or isolated from a group that also knows each other offline.
The most common concern of employers, however, about remote work is the inability to control whether subordinates are only engaged in their duties during working hours, or whether they also perform other activities in the meantime. Therefore, remote work requires the development of appropriate tools to account for the results of work, and trust in the employee to demonstrate a high degree of self-discipline.
The opinions and concerns of nearly 200 companies are presented in the report “Return to the office – opportunity and challenge. The office market and the coronavirus” created by Colliers. As the biggest challenge, respondents cited the issue of maintaining a sense of belonging to the company among employees. This was feared by as many as 65% of respondents. Next on the list of concerns were still: taking care of the so-called work-life balance (61%), the difficulty of implementing new employees who do not have the opportunity to integrate into the group (53%), and the problem of maintaining high efficiency of teams (42%).
Is your company ready for hybrid work?
The hybrid mode presents certain challenges for the company. The final decision to work from home or from the office should be up to the employee. Of course, everything must be agreed with the employer, but managers usually don’t know what the conditions are at the employee’s home. And I don’t mean such basic issues as lack of Internet access, but… Think that you were to perform complex professional duties while taking care of two small children at home. In such a situation, an employee may decide that he or she prefers to work from an office that provides peace of mind and the ability to concentrate.
Another thing an employer needs to think about is improving communication. And between co-workers, and between employees and the “top”. This can be done using several sources at the same time – by phone, email or other online communicators. There are also a number of online tools that create a space for separating tasks, prioritizing them or providing brief information in a forum. Group and individual video calls will also be essential. They can be scheduled daily, weekly or at other frequencies – it all depends on the specifics of the company.
If possible, an employer should organize an offline team-building meeting once in a while. Meeting with co-workers “in real life” helps deepen relationships, which translates into a better atmosphere during work.
For the inquisitive: a few more numbers
Infor reported as early as mid-2021 that, according to the survey, as many as 77% of companies plan to permanently introduce a hybrid model, assuming two or three days of remote work per week. The same is true here at appvinio! We work from home for two days, the other three from the office, with the possibility of more days of remote work if one needs it. And well, we can confirm that this is a really good arrangement. But back to the data…
According to a May 2022 report by Pracuj.pl, 35% of Poles work remotely or hybrid on a regular basis. “‘Hybrid’ employees are most likely to meet in the office on Mondays. Today, most of them cannot imagine a full return to their offices. 9 in 10 don’t want to return to a desktop model, but only one in four prefer a fully remote mode,” the report reads. Those in the 25 to 34 age group are more likely to work in a hybrid or remote model.
It also turns out, unsurprisingly in principle, that job seekers are increasingly paying attention to the possibility of working remotely. “More than 44 percent of respondents would be discouraged from applying to a company if they found out that the employer expects them to work exclusively on-site,” – report the researchers, adding that 75 percent of those surveyed would be more likely to apply to an employer that gives employees back some of the costs incurred in performing their duties from home.
Will hybrid work stay with us forever?
Hybrid work has gained greater popularity mainly through the coronavirus pandemic. Companies put in a crisis situation had to create an off-site work system. This caused employers to see the benefits of introducing hybrid work. Before the pandemic, many companies didn’t even consider that their employees could perform their duties from home or any other place in the world where they had access to the Internet. In 2020, however, they were, as it were, put on the spot. And then it turned out… it really works, employees are happier, and companies’ performance does not drop at all.
Although the pandemic threat is no longer so great, many experts say that most companies will not return to desktop work. After all, graphic design, photo processing, website and app development, article writing or social media profiles don’t require an office presence.
Michal Grzybowski, leader of the People & Organization team at PwC, commented that “the best solution is to develop a new work model, embedded in the company’s strategy. The model should involve hybrid work, a few days a week done in the office, and the rest of the time remotely.” Why? “Because entrepreneurs point out that while the productivity of remote work has been maintained, with daily remote contacts, the innovation of employees, which requires the rapid exchange of ideas, has decreased. Hence the need for face-to-face meetings in offices.” – explains the expert.
Global corporations are in favor!
“More and more companies, especially those run by young people, are realizing that hiring a remote worker is profitable (…). Certainly not for all tasks and not in every company will remote workers appear, because many things can not be done remotely if they require, for example, specialized machinery or the cooperation of many people. But there are already companies on the Polish market that do not have offices at all, and whose employees work exclusively remotely.” – Agnieszka Skupieńska, author of Become a Freelancer, commented in an interview with Green Line.
The Microsoft conglomerate decided back in 2020 to allow employees to work remotely full time, claiming that employees are more efficient in this mode. In a company memo at the time, they conveyed that they would allow “flexibility to support individual work styles while balancing business needs and ensuring that we live up to our work culture.” Facebook used a similar solution.
Hybrid work has many advantages for both employer and employee, although it also brings many organizational challenges. Certainly, the introduction of a mixed model requires a radical change in thinking about work and the development of new communication and management solutions. However, since such a mode is advocated by major corporations, all signs point to the fact that… there goes a new one!
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