As the widespread availability of vaccines hopefully brings us ever closer to a post-pandemic world, many business leaders now face the major challenge of planning how best to optimize their real-estate portfolios and utilize physical workplaces that have sat largely dormant for the past year.
Many employers are considering a hybrid work model, which allows some employees to work from the office a few days per week while others work entirely from the office or remotely. While there are some industries where hybrid work isn’t an option (retail, hospitality, manufacturing, etc.), organizations with mostly “knowledge workers” are offering or planning to offer some form of hybrid working arrangement.
But going hybrid isn’t a walk in the park. The jury is still out on what the best hybrid work model is, and the best model for one organization won’t necessarily be the best option for others. However, organizations that aren’t willing to adapt and learn from the pandemic risk losing their top talent and workforce to companies that do. The good news is that a hybrid work model can offer a win-win situation for both employers and employees alike.
Ensuring a balanced positive experience for the workforce involves choosing a hybrid work model that serves the needs of both the business and its employees. To help leaders inform such a decision, let’s review some different examples of hybrid work models.
Fully Remote/Fully On-site
This model describes a scenario in which some employees work exclusively from the office while others work on a fully remote basis. The success of this model depends on business objectives and the roles and responsibilities of individual teams and employees.
This is arguably the most straightforward approach to the hybrid work model. For instance, an organization that adopts this model will keep part of its staff on-site full-time to access the requisite facilities, equipment, and other resources to be productive. The rest of the staff will work remotely full-time. The latter must be able to work effectively from their homes without needing on-site resources to complete tasks.
This type of model will enable organizations to downsize their real estate footprint and reduce overhead costs. Adopting and strategically deploying workplace technology to keep track of the impacts these changes are having on the organization can help business leaders ascertain the success of this hybrid model and ensure it’s driving the desired outcomes.
Part Remote, Part On-site
This is one of the more common hybrid work models. Employers provide their workforce with the flexibility to work on-site and remotely on either a preferred or predetermined schedule.
Essentially, this hybrid model is a time-based split where some employees work from home (or other locations) some days of the week and come into the office on other days. The decision around what days are spent on-site vs remotely can be decided by management (based on roles, responsibilities, and business needs) or left to employees’ discretion.
Organizations that make the latter choice may need to deploy space reservation, rotating desks, and booking software to address possible instances of overcrowding. For those that choose the former, it’s essential to coordinate in-office schedules based on which teams rely on each other most to ensure in-office time is as beneficial and productive as possible for employees.
Combined Hybrid Model
This hybrid model is basically a mix of the previous two models. This model could work well for decentralized organizations with geographically dispersed offices that are relatively siloed or operate more independently.
Some employees are allowed to work from home on specific days and remotely the rest of the time. Other employees either work fully on-site or fully remotely.
For instance, a business with multiple offices (a manufacturing outfit in Paris and its headquarters in New York) may decide to adopt this model. Employees in New York can either choose to work on-site or from a remote location like their homes or cafes. On the other hand, employees in Paris will be required to work on-site full-time because of the manufacturing operation.
This gives teams the flexibility to work in a way that suits them without negatively impacting business goals. Also, implementing this work model increases an organization’s competitiveness in attracting, hiring, and retaining top talent within and beyond its geographical location.
Technology Supports Collaboration & Informs Decision-Making
Before implementing a hybrid work model, business leaders must deploy the right technologies to optimize the execution of corporate processes and communication channels between team members, departments, and across offices despite where employees are physically working from.
Leveraging tools like workplace analytics can help business leaders measure the impacts of hybrid or remote work on productivity, collaboration, and other key business metrics. For example, one multinational technology company utilized the Humanyze Platform to evaluate how a sudden shift to remote work impacted organizational health. The company was then able to leverage data to inform decision-making and ensure employee satisfaction and productivity.
Hybrid work is still a relatively new concept for many businesses and employees, meaning that it requires careful planning, strategic thinking, and thoughtful execution. To this end, business leaders should work closely with middle management and frontline workers to discuss and test out what models work best. Leveraging surveys to get a pulse on employee sentiments, doing test runs with certain teams or locations before rolling out changes to the entire company, and using data to understand how changes are impacting the organization are just some examples of ways that leaders can drive success when informing these complex decisions without precedent.
Whatever the decision, it’s time to embrace flexibility, explore new work arrangements, and part with old ways of working that no longer suit the modern workforce. There are exciting times and changes ahead as businesses explore new uncharted territory in the realm of flexible work arrangements.