A hybrid workplace model as the name suggests is an in-between model between on-site and remote working models. It tries to establish a balance in workflow requirements by allowing employees the option to choose whether they want to work from the office or remotely.
The flexibility of the model can be designed as per the requirements of the project a particular team is working on. It can be across all verticals or only a few departments based on the critical nature of the employee’s job. In some offices, hybrid workplace models can allow employees to choose their preference between on-site or remote permanently. This effectively means that a requisite number of employees will always work remotely. And the rest will report to a workplace on-site. These decisions will be from a strategic vantage point and will be guided by the drivers of productivity and engagement of employees.
The hybrid workplace model will best suit industries that have a considerable number of employees, whose work is computer-based and does not require them to step into an office. What needs to be comprehended by corporate employers is that the hybrid workplace model is here to stay. It is not a bridge model that was used to survive through the global pandemic. As per a recent report by McKinsey, remote working can be done without negatively impacting productivity. Remote working is possible only in countries that can cater to uninterrupted power and good internet speed. This study also established that approximately twenty-five percent of employees in developed countries can work remotely, anywhere between three to five days a week. So it is not a surprise that hiring managers are using the tagline of remote work as a perk when seeking new applications for job adverts.
There are considerable benefits of hybrid models that translate into better employee experience in managing their work-life balance and improved productivity. Happy employees result in better performance. The costs related to huge rental spaces and employee engagement benefits such as free weekly breakfast can be directed to other important areas that boost the business. It also has a good impact on traffic and related pollution that is decreased with less number of employees driving up to work. During the pandemic, remote working was a necessary step to contain the spread of the virus. However, post-pandemic, the future of the workplaces will be a hybrid model with employees enjoying the flexibility to work from the comfort of their homes.
The hybrid workplace model cements the paradigm shift we are experiencing courtesy of a global pandemic. But for sustainable and seamless workflow management, hybrid workplace models have to be as transparent, accessible, and connected as the on-site models are. If things are not checked before workplaces transition to a hybrid model, then the chances of negative repercussions will be low productivity, workflow delays, and employee dissatisfaction. A feasibility check that is inclusive of employee intent and training to use remote solutions, before transiting into a hybrid workplace model is desirable.
A hybrid model requires to be sold to employees who may like the extra perk of not commuting to work. This model should be supported with the right type of tools and technology that aids communication from mobile and is independent of a device.
How does a hybrid workplace model work?
A hybrid workplace ensures that an employee’s work experience is given paramount importance and supports them in balancing work and personal life. Pandemic also resulted in psychological inertia for most employees, who like the benefits of watching young kids and pets at home, while managing their work from home.
But only remote work without ever visiting an actual workplace may make employees more complacent. Especially the workforce that needs to be trained in a specific area that needs some physical interactions with their supervisors and other team members, may not take their work as seriously. To overcome this issue, a hybrid workplace takes the best of on-site and remote working by ensuring that workflow is strategized and well thought of in advance. Consider a team that needs to meet once a week, to collaborate on different aspects of a project. Despite the best virtual meeting room access, good internet, and the right type of ergonomic desk and chair, employees may need to be looked straight into the eye, to understand their responses and reactions. The team lead can choose to see his team members in person on one or two days a week. Rest of the days his team will work from remote locations.
A hybrid model, cannot be scaled unless tools like interactive whiteboards or smart boards, digital meeting room solutions that support multiple members for long durations of a meeting, good voice and video conferencing aids that can be accessed from anywhere, and a seamless project management system that can be configured to any remote workstation are used. These digital solutions are one-time capital expenditures that will translate into employee happiness, increase in productivity, and reduction in overhead expenses in the future. The hybrid workplace model also has to come up with enhanced security for data compliance and safety to avoid any breach.
It is also important for HR to communicate their intention on what are the flexible options and what is non-negotiable when it comes to executing their work.
The pandemic will eventually end, but the way people work or study will change forever. The initial infancy stages of transition to hybrid models have already begun. A two-year break from what was hitherto normal may not eventually mean that we will embrace the workplace solutions of the past. Hybrid workplace solutions are what the future has in store for employers and employees alike. But before adopting a hybrid workplace model, a report based on the data and responses from employees and function heads should be sourced. If the majority of functions of a job require an on-site model, then the workflow should not be disrupted by adopting a hybrid model.