Hybrid Work: what it is and how to make it work
We’ve seen many terms appear in the working world over the last few years, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Working from home’ and ‘remote working’ have become standard practices for millions of people worldwide, but working models have continued to evolve since.
Nowadays, we are most certainly living in the age of the latest working model: hybrid working.
According to a recent study, 81% of professionals working from home between March 2020 and March 2021 stated that they didn’t want to return to traditional forms of working. Instead, they wanted to continue working from home or use a hybrid model.
The same research discovered that only 18% of all professionals wanted to work at the office full -time, and these figures are stirring quite the conversation. Hybrid working is taking over, and as a business seeking to employ the top talent and maintain a productive workforce, this is a concept you need to know about.
What is hybrid working, actually?
Let’s start with the basics.
Hybrid working can mean one of two things. If you’re an employee, hybrid working refers to splitting your working hours between the traditional way of working at the office and at home. For example, you may work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the office, with Tuesday and Thursday spent working off-site.
If you’re an employer, then the term hybrid working will refer to the working hours model you provide for all employees, but it works in pretty much the same way. It means you’re creating a flexible environment where your employees can blend working at home and remotely with time spent in the office. All in a balanced way that brings hybrid working advantages to both your business and the employee’s own lives.
Hybrid working advantages
Of course, neither employers nor employees would be interested in hybrid working if it didn’t bring a range of advantages. For clarity, let’s dive into them.
One of the most valuable benefits of hybrid working is reducing commuting time for employees. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the average commuting time (one-way) in the U.S. sits around the 27-minute mark, which is five hours per week or 20 hours per month. This is a huge chunk of time that could easily be spent doing more productive things in either an employee’s professional or personal life.
Undoubtedly, many employers find it hard to trust the working-from-home approach. Many believed it would simply be a way for employees to find new ways to slack off and not complete work, meaning that their business would fall behind and suffer because of it. Either that or it would be too hard to set up an infrastructure that allowed employees to work productively.
After all, if employees had the choice, surely they would choose to work fewer hours and get less done if they could get paid the same?
Well, this assumption turned out to be just that. An assumption.
A Microsoft study conducted on its own European workforce while researching the impact of COVID-19 discovered that 82% of its leaders were just as productive, if not more so than they were before the pandemic when they worked in traditional office environments.
In the UK, research found that 65% of workers found they were more productive at home compared with being in a traditional office, and 75% found there were fewer distractions at home. Even 66% of employers reported that remote workers were more productive than in-office workers.
Long story short, the facts state that employees are more productive working from home or remote working than they are in a traditional office environment, clearly showcasing why hybrid working is taking off in the way it is.
Whether you’re modernizing your existing business or growing one from the ground up, it’s crucial you operate your business in the most cost-effective way. Adopting a hybrid working approach is beneficial in this sense because there’s no need to invest in as many resources as you would a traditional office.
Since staff members are coming in for specific days during the week, attending meetings, only accessing essential facilities, networks, meeting rooms and work spaces during flexible hours, you won’t need enough assets to support your entire workforce simultaneously.
Instead, you can invest in setting up versatile workspaces that include all the essentials, such as lounge areas, standing desks, and fully-functional meeting rooms, all the while allowing employees to access their work via their own devices.
4 tips to making hybrid work work for you
While it’s certainly not a complex process, you’ll want to be proactive in introducing a hybrid model to ensure all tiers of your workforce are on the same page and fall in positive habits and routines quickly.
With this in mind, here are five tips that can help the process.
Embrace asynchronous communication
When flexible working is the leading work model, it’s vital to remember that employees will be working on their own clocks. Some workers will start work as early as 6 AM, whereas others may not check their emails until noon. When you consider the fact many employees could be working together from all around the world in various time zones, you start to see how effective communication could become quite the challenge.
You need to invest time in setting up a chat system. Software like Slack, Google Workspace, or Discord makes it easy to promote effective group and individual chat, ensuring everyone is on the same page, and tasks and projects are handled professionally.
Secondly, you need to promote meetings, but don’t fall into the trap of just having meetings every day when you don’t need them. Set up a system that promotes productive meetings that help keep everyone on the same page, and allows everyone the opportunity to have their say and to highlight any potential issues.
Beware of unconscious bias towards off-site employees
Another essential point to consider is that it can be far too easy to develop an unconscious bias towards off-site employees.
If you’re working in the office and you see some employees every day, it’s easy to perceive them as the ones working and helping your business get things done. After all, the results are happening right in front of you.
However, the work your off-site employees are contributing to is just as vital to the completion of tasks and projects, but it’s easy for them to get forgotten about when they’re seen as simple text messages or comments on your screen.
If you’re promoting a hybrid workplace, you must reduce these biases as much as possible. If you don’t, you run the risk of having employees that suffer from low morale and a lack of appreciation, an increase in poor communication, and therefore an increase in the risk of error, delays, and potentially crippling issues.
Be transparent about company goals/beliefs
When running a business, it’s essential to remain clear when communicating your company’s goals, values, and beliefs. This ensures everyone working with and alongside your company is on the same page regarding the direction you’re heading, specifically when it comes to the decision-making process.
However, this becomes even more important when operating a hybrid workplace.
According to Workhuman.com, employees who trust their company report 74% less stress than typical employees and 40% lower burnout rates, which are not numbers any business can afford to ignore.
Organize live events
One of the best hybrid working advantages everyone can enjoy is the fact you can invest time in organizing live events that help bring everyone together. There will be employees within your business who won’t have met each other. Hosting events that can help to put a face to the name can change everything.
Live events are fun team-building events and are a great way to promote positive company culture, create long-lasting memories, and opportunities to celebrate all the successes of your business and the people who made it all possible.
Brands that successfully operate in a hybrid model
Still unsure whether a hybrid working model would benefit your business? See how the theory works but not sure whether it could actually work in the real working world? Here are two examples of companies that have adopted the hybrid working ways and are thriving because of it.
All our employees can work in our offices in Romania and Spain (with our next office opening in Portugal in late 2022) or at home in a way that suits them.
Our team currently consists of 180 employees, whether within these cities or remotely employed in locations like Prague, Sweden, and Dubai. We’re even set to surpass the 300 mark by the end of the year, making us an excitingly fast-growing company that’s continuously pushing our boundaries and making things happen.
We surely attribute a large proportion of our success to our hybrid working model. Our employees don’t just work for us but can instead live their lives in a way that suits them, all the while integrating work into their daily routines in a beneficial, productive, and streamlined way.
Speaking from personal experience, we’ve mastered the art of holding daily meetings that keep everyone on the same page and all our projects running smoothly. Our management teams are very proactive when it comes to helping give everyone what they need to succeed.
What’s more, working at Principal33 gives you access to a whole range of benefits that make working for us great, regardless of the physical space you’re actually working in. Included in our contracts, you’ll find things like:
Flexible schedules, work hours, and locations
Tons of training and educational opportunities
Medical, health, and lifestyle benefits
Referral bonuses for employee sign-ups
Team events and socializing opportunities
Holiday and vacation packages as standard
All in all, we’ve raised the bar when it comes to creating a company that really values the perks and advantages that hybrid working creates, and we’ve aimed to mold a company culture that reflects what we all want. A workplace that isn’t just for work, but instead stands for creating a positive lifestyle where we can all work the way we work best.
Google is perhaps the big business that is leading the change when it comes to figuring out the best ways to work. The company is renowned for creating a culture that promotes personalized working styles, made famous by in-office facilities like feature-rich working environments, lunchtime yoga classes, massage therapy sessions, and even cooking classes. All are provided free of charge and are simply perks of the job.
However, Google doesn’t hold back when it comes to remote workers.
Whether you’re working in the Google headquarters, at home, or literally anywhere in the world, Google employees have access to these perks and benefits. This means there’s no way you’re left out regarding what you have access to.
As of the time of writing, Google employees will usually spend three days in the office and then the other two in a location of their choosing. Time spent in the office focuses mainly on collaborative work.
Since Google is a global company, there are over 170 offices worldwide to work in, and therefore over 170 communicates that you can choose to become a part of. So, if you’re planning to move, you’ll just enter a new office and can still work with the same teams you work with now.
As you can see, while hybrid working feels a bit like a revolutionary term, it’s a way of working that’s quickly becoming the workplace standard in the modern age. Nowadays, we’ve reached a point with the available technology and mindset of both employees and employers where flexible working is seen as a beneficial and productive approach to work.
Therefore, whether you’re looking for the top talent for your company or the top companies to work for, this is certainly a way of working you will want to adopt into your own practices. Just make sure you’re actively creating meaningful benefits for all to enjoy, developing collaborative ways of working that make things easy for everyone involved, and doing your best to nurture a company culture where everyone feels valued, trusted, and a part of the team.