Why Choose The Hybrid Model?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve seen a large-scale shift toward a hybrid- or remote-only work model. What began out of necessity quickly morphed into something more complicated. Though many predicted the move toward remote work would be temporary, it has proven to be a more durable shift. By late 2021, 91% of people working remotely at least some of the time said they hope to continue in this way. But many aren’t ready to ditch the office completely, and that’s where the hybrid work model comes in.
In a time when many businesses are attempting to gain traction on a return to exclusively in-person work, it’s worth exploring why the hybrid work model is so appealing to both employers and employees. Especially as recruitment continues to be a challenge in this talent-focused market, it can benefit you to explore why some businesses have chosen the hybrid model and what strategies they’ve used to adapt to change.
Employees prefer it
Many businesses are choosing to pursue a hybrid work style because their employees are requesting it. In fact, among people who can work remotely, hybrid work is the preferred method over fully remote or fully in-person options.
The best of both worlds
The unique advantage of hybrid work is that it allows teams to combine the best aspects of both remote work and in-person work. Both styles have strengths and weaknesses, and workers may find they prefer a certain style based on their personality. Remote work can often be more productive, but it can also be lonely, and 80% of HR executives say that employees find remote work to be tiring. Generally speaking, many feel in-person work is better for collaboration and effective meetings, but office upkeep is expensive, and working in person can enable micromanagement, distraction, and procrastination. When executed well, a hybrid work schedule can combine these two options for the benefit of all. The challenge, according to Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, is “to not get the worst of both worlds.”
Wider talent pool
We know how difficult recruiting can be in this tight labor market. One of the advantages of hybrid work is its ability to equally tap into both local and geographically diverse talent. If your organization has a hybrid work schedule, you can expand your hiring footprint to reach a larger pool of highly qualified talent. A hybrid work environment is also more conducive to asynchronous work, which is often necessary when working with teams located in distinct locations. We’re only seeing the beginning of how hybrid work can allow for complete geographical flexibility in recruitment and hiring.
Some employees initially hesitate to work from home because they’re concerned about falling behind or maintaining their efficiency. But they often change their minds once they’ve had a chance to try it, as many people have during the pandemic. And the preference for remote work is supported by evidence. Studies show that those who work from home are more productive and need fewer breaks than those who work entirely in person. It’s worth noting, however, that research also shows poor leadership can nullify the productivity gains of a work from home policy.
How to Adapt to the Hybrid Work Model
Deploy thoughtful design
In order to function for the benefit of all employees, a hybrid work environment must be flexible enough to adapt to individual needs. This flexibility needs to be integral to the system, or it will feel more like an exhausting chore than a privilege to work in this way. Consider, for example, the fact that even if some employees are located close to an office or hub, others may live too far away to feasibly travel in regularly. An introverted employee might prefer to work at home the majority of the time, only coming into the office for important meetings, while an extroverted employee might prefer to be in the office four out of five days each week. Design your company policies to be fair and adaptable across the organization.
You can support this diversity in work style by getting rid of your office altogether, offering a coffee stipend so employees can work there occasionally (Buffer), moving most work to be asynchronous (Doist), or by setting aside one day per week to be ‘meeting free’ for deep work (Intel).
Make room for socialization
One of the main causes of lost work time is socialization at work. But this comfortable rapport with colleagues is also one factor keeping us motivated to come to work every day. Many of us can feel lonely or isolated when working from home, especially if we work remotely exclusively, or if our colleagues meet in person but we do not. When you’re making plans for your hybrid work model, be sure to include room for socializing and team building. If some of your team is located near the office and others live elsewhere, how will you make sure everyone feels included during team events? Remote-only social time, such as a weekly coffee hour, can be beneficial for team building and leveling the playing field, so to speak.
Slow, thoughtful change
One of the main causes of lost work time is socialization at work. But this comfortable rapport with colleagues is also one factor keeping us motivated to come to work every day. Many of us can feel lonely or isolated when working from home, especially if we work remotely exclusively, or if our colleagues meet in person but we do not. When you’re making plans for your hybrid work model, be sure to include room for socializing and team building. If some of your team is located near the office and others live elsewhere, how will you make sure everyone feels included during team events? Remote-only social time, such as a weekly remote coffee hour, can be beneficial for team building and leveling the playing field, so to speak.
Internal communication strategy is always important, but perhaps even more so in a company that operates with a hybrid work model. With employees spread across time and distance, creating fair and equitable policies, as well as communicating them clearly, can be a great challenge. If you’re going to give hybrid work a try, make sure there’s a clear system for office communication. We recommend an office instant messaging systems like Slack or Microsoft Teams. These tools allow for direct, instant communication as well as group collaboration. Microsoft Teams has embedded video and phone conferencing capabilities as well. Think outside the box and remember – the goal is to help employees and leaders keep in touch, while also respecting the distance between us.
Challenges in the Hybrid Work Model
- It’s new. Hybrid work wasn’t feasible on a large scale until roughly the last decade. Even now, organizational psychologists and HR leaders are exploring best practices for this kind of work.
- It can be isolating. Remote work of any kind runs the risk of perpetuating loneliness and isolation. And while hybrid work may help offset these issues, it could actually make it more difficult for those who thrive on routine and structure, with employees in the office at different times and without the routine of sticking to the same work environment every day.
- It can be expensive. If you maintain an office while employing a hybrid work model, you’ll be paying for it (in rent, utilities, upkeep, etc) while only using it part of the time. This is why some companies with hybrid models have done away with their headquarters altogether or downsized considerably.
- It can be tiresome. This depends on one’s personality type, but most people do well with some sort of routine to their workday. It can be hard to feel comfortable at work if you never know for certain which days you’ll be working from home, in the office, or traveling.
Though the hybrid work model does come with certain challenges, we believe it’s the work style of the future. When done well, it can be an equitable, productive way to keep teams connected while also allowing employees to work at their own pace.
Finding the right executive talent for your team can be difficult, especially in the current labor market. If you need a leader who will guide your organization through hybrid work with ease, reach out to us about our executive recruitment services.
Our team at People Suite has decades of experience recruiting highly qualified talent from Individual contributors to the C-suite.
Contact us today to schedule a free employer consultation to discuss your unique talent needs.