Hybrid Work

A complete guide to hybrid work

Relaxed woman working from home on her laptop

As workers who worked from home during the pandemic have started returning to the office again, hybrid work models have really started to take off. A workplace that combines the best of home office and remote work is an enticing proposition for many workers. In fact, 83% of workers in a recent study described a hybrid work model as optimal. So if you are wondering what the future of work will look like, understanding the hybrid work model is a good place to start. In this article, we’ll look at the difference between remote work and hybrid work and then look at some of the pros and cons of hybrid work.

What is hybrid work?

Before we jump into the pros and cons of hybrid work, we should start with a definition of exactly what a hybrid work model is and how it differs from the traditional workplace. Before the pandemic, most professionals defined the workplace as a physical location where work was done. This changed dramatically when lockdowns were put in place and many of these same workers started working from home. 

After discovering the benefits of home office, many workers have not been eager to return to the traditional workplace. On the other hand, some workers and managers missed the in-person interactions that the traditional office setting offered. 

Enter the hybrid work model. This new way of working combines both home office and the traditional workplace. In this model, workers are together in a physical location. While the exact split between home office and in office work usually varies, the general idea is that workers are given some degree of freedom over where they work and on which day. 

Lady on a couch with a laptop and coffee

What is the difference between hybrid work and remote work?

We’re all pretty familiar with remote work by now. Even before home office became the new normal during the pandemic, remote work existed. According to Gartner, remote work is a type of working arrangement that allows an employee to work remote from a location outside of the office. In contrast, hybrid work is a combination of both working remote and working in the office. 

What are the advantages of hybrid work?

1. Hybrid work enables a better work-life balance

Part of a hybrid work model is enabling remote work. What became very obvious when so many people started working from home during the pandemic is that home office offers a better work-life balance. There are so many people who spend hours each week commuting or long days in the office where they don’t see their loved ones. Working from home gives them back those hours and more face time with loved ones. Many other people have discovered that when you only have to walk to another room to go to work, you suddenly have way more time for hobbies and leisure activities. Even after the pandemic, the option of remote work days means that workers will have the flexibility to tilt the scale towards more life outside of work.

2. Hybrid work offers greater flexibility

The shift to working from home during the pandemic changed the expectations of many workers of what a workplace should be. According to research, up to 75% of workers expect a flexible workplace and 38% would quit a job rather than return to the office full time. A hybrid work model is a really good option for offering greater workplace flexibility. This in turn will most likely increase employee satisfaction and retention. 

3. Working from home increases productivity

Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that workers need to be in the office to be productive. But it’s actually not clear where this belief comes from. Even before the pandemic, research indicated that having the flexibility to work from home boosted productivity. The Harvard Business Journal pointed out that this trend continued during the pandemic. One of their studies indicated that across different industries, companies reported a 70% increase in productivity among workers who worked from home during the pandemic.

4. Working from home can reduce burnout

In a hybrid workplace, workers have the option of working from home when needed. This is increasingly being recognized as a way to support employee well-being.

Research shows that burn out can reduce by 26% when workers have the option of working from home – even if it is only a few days a week. That’s a win for both employer and employee.

What are the disadvantages of hybrid work?

1. The resources to optimize hybrid work have not yet been made available

There were many stop-gap measures put in place during the pandemic to make home office possible. But the technology we hastily applied proved to have some real downsides. Instant messaging is great for quick exchanges but as a primary means of workplace communication when working from home, it proved to be not personal enough and quite disruptive. Video calls are more personal but ended up being incredibly draining for workers who spent their entire home office days on camera. In fact, the shift to video conferencing during the pandemic led to a phenomenon that we now call zoom fatigue. Simply put, there is an urgent need for technological innovation that can overcome these issues and meet the needs of a hybrid workforce.

2. Many aspects of the workplace are still designed for in-person, not remote work

Some new measures were put into place during the pandemic when workers were forced to work from home. However, the current workplace has not yet been properly adapted for hybrid work. This includes workforce policies, which were designed for in person work. But also the broader topic of company culture, which must similarly be adapted for the future of work and the needs of remote workers. Ensuring that company culture catches up with the hybrid workplace is deemed essential.

3. Not every workplace has the option of adopting a hybrid work model

Many industries, such as healthcare and retail, do not have the option of offering a hybrid work model that includes working from home. As the future of work takes shape, these workers need to be taken into account in the innovations that make the workplace better and more productive. There may be aspects of the new hybrid work model, or at least the tools and policies designed for the hybrid work model, that will also benefit workers who cannot work from home.

Take Away

The future of work is already taking shape as increased workplace flexibility becomes the new normal. Implementing a hybrid work model is a great way to get the best of both the traditional workplace and home office. The key to the future of work is a workplace that overcomes the barriers of remote work and meets the needs of every worker, whether they are working from home or in the office.

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