Remote working became commonplace during the pandemic, but following on from that, an increasing number of companies found themselves longing for a return to the physical workplace due to isolation at home. There are advantages to both work models and you can benefit from them all with a hybrid work model.
However, making the transition to a hybrid work model isn’t something that happens overnight. In addition, to make the transition a successful one requires a certain amount of planning. Plan correctly, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits and remove any risk of inefficiency.
If you want to learn how to do it the right way, this ultimate guide will walk you through the process.
What is a Hybrid Work Model?
The hybrid work model is a way of working that allows flexible working conditions for employees. It allows employees to work from wherever, according to their own schedule.
During the height of the pandemic, companies were forced to implement remote work. It might have been a work model they’d never considered before, but so many came to the realization that it’s a way of working that many employees prefer.
Generally, hybrid work involves an element of onsite office work and remote work. It can take some trial and error to find the right hybrid approach and it can also be heavily influenced by your business and industry.
Hybrid Work Model Variations
Hybrid work comes in many shapes and sizes. There’s no one-size fits all solution. Instead, it’s all about creating a working environment that suits all employees, whether they want to work from home full-time or go into the office a few times a week.
A range of hybrid work models are available and understanding what they are means you can organize your business to best suit staff and the resources available.
Let’s explore some of those options:
Remote-First or at-will Models
With this hybrid work model, employees are based at home but have the option to come in to the office to work when they want to.
It’s a model that can be interpreted in different ways, depending on the company. For example, some might allow employees to come to the office to collaborate and any non-team work takes place at home. Other companies might offer a more flexible approach, allowing workers to choose whether they work at home or in the office.
Office-first is the opposite of the previous model. In other words, the workforce works primarily in the office, but there are opportunities for some employees to work remotely when required.
If a company decides to operate in this way, it’s important to make it clear who is eligible for remote work and when and how staff can apply to do it.
This model splits the week between working from home two to three days a week and working onsite for the other days. Companies that choose this model generally split up the week between different departments. For example, the customer support team comes into the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the marketing team is there on Mondays and Wednesdays.
With this type of hybrid model, managers are able to stay in touch with their teams and it allows for face-to-face meetings on a regular basis.
A week-by-week model sees employees alternating between working from home and working onsite on a weekly basis. This model allows large teams to use office space together at the same time, meeting up for updates, reviews, and deadlines.
Designated Teams Hybrid Work Model
Another way to implement hybrid work is with the designated teams hybrid work model. This is a good option for organizations that require specific employees to work on-site.
For example, companies such as power plants and factories need on-site workers for safety checks. Admin staff, IT experts, and sales reps don’t necessarily have to be physically present to do their jobs.
When a whole team is working at home, communications rely on available technologies to allow for asynchronous work.
Employers Benefits from Moving to a Hybrid Work Model
From an employer’s point of view, there are lots of advantages to adopting a hybrid work model.
Reduces Operating Costs
If there are fewer employees in the office a smaller workplace is needed. Therefore, your business can save on rental and utility prices. In addition, the amount a business spends on office supplies also drops.
It’s possible to save even more money by moving to a coworking space. By using a combination of spaces that are equipped for productivity, employees can choose to work anywhere they want in the space. It is a place where people can collaborate in person if and when they want to.
Attracts More Talent
With nearly half of employees preferring to be remote at least two days a week, companies are going to be able to attract people with more skills and talents if hybrid work is an option.
With better talent, companies can expect better services and products and a better position over competitors.
Increases Employee Commitment and Performance
People have different working comfort zones and if you offer the flexibility your employees could exceed your expectations.
Giving employees the opportunity to choose their workplace will bring out the best in them and improve their skills and contributions.
Provide the workforce with collaborative solutions and they will allow for better communication, sharing, and interaction.
Improves Performance Tracking
Introduce a hybrid work model and you’ll also need to include collaboration solutions. These will organize the business processes and allow you to track the progress of tasks and projects.
Performance tracking provides detailed reports for employers relating to the productivity and performance of different teams.
It makes no difference where the employees work. The collaboration solutions will still be able to report on engagement levels, and whether tasks are being completed.
Hurdles to Overcome When Moving to Hybrid
While a hybrid work model comes with tremendous advantages, there are also some obstacles that have to be overcome.
With a hybrid work model, employees could be working at different times which means there will be fewer interactions. If you want to keep your business running and deliveries to take place on time, you must ensure there is a high level of collaboration and communication in your organization.
The ideal solution is to use a collaborative platform because it will connect all company employees, organize information sharing, and provide a high level of security. There will be tools to help you engage employees in projects, listen to different opinions, combine ideas, and plenty more.
Lowers the Client Experience
Sometimes, clients need to interact with employees on a personal level. Meetings can play an important part in the workflow when it comes to understanding customer requirements and ensuring satisfaction. Some of those clients might want in person interactions and face-to-face team meetings.
A software development company or a law firm might require meetings with clients and if these aren’t an option, it could affect the business.
One possible solution is to have an agreement in place that specifies if a client prefers an in-person meeting, the employee has to be available and organize one.
Employees Risk Isolation and Silo Working
When employees work remotely there is less office interaction. This can leave some team members feeling very isolated. Ultimately, this could force them to work in silos. That’s not to say it’s a risk for everyone. But it’s also fair to say that not everyone is comfortable communicating over the internet.
Team leaders are responsible for keeping a high level of interaction and encouraging engagement through activities. These activities might include online collaborative meetings or brainstorming. Group gatherings outside the company are another option. For example, team building events ensure employees interact with each other on a human level.
Collaborative solutions that connect remote and office-based team members are at risk of threats and vulnerabilities. These risks could be due to targeted cyber-attacks, but could also be wrong employee behavior.
The best solution for this obstacle is to ensure all employees are educated about security threats, how to avoid them, and what to do if something happens. Using a secure collaboration system will ensure data and team member transactions are protected.
How to Negotiate a Hybrid Work Model With Your Employer
You and your fellow workmates might like the idea of a hybrid work model, but what if your employer is not so keen?
The recent enforced period of working from home has shaken up some of the old beliefs that staff perform better when physically in the office. However, it might still be a struggle to convince your employer that it’s at least worth a try.
As you’ve already discovered, there are many different hybrid models which means it’s more likely there will be a model you and your employer can agree on adopting.
It might feel a little intimidating to ask your employer to change the habits of a lifetime, but the following hints and tips might make it a little easier.
What is Needed for You and Your Colleagues to Work From Home?
The first step is to establish whether your job can realistically be done from home. Home work tends to revolve around a computer. At the same time, you need to think about it from your employer’s point of view. They’ll be thinking about what is best for their business and the team, not just what’s most convenient for you.
What is your set-up in the office and can you replicate it at home or work as efficiently with what you’ve got available. For example, if you use a second monitor in the office but only have a laptop at home, is this going to impact your productivity or restrict what tasks you can complete on your at-home days? Do you use a phone? Will the company need to provide you with a work landline?
Any additional equipment you need will add to the cost. Make sure you think things through and look at them from all angles.
Know Your Options and Preferences
Next, you need to schedule a meeting with your manager. Make it clear that you want to talk about how hybrid working could benefit you and the company and leave yourself with enough time to prepare.
It’s possible that your company has already put together a hybrid policy, post-Covid. If there is such a policy, as for a copy from HR so you can be clear about what you can ask for. It might also help with solutions for possible issues, for example, keeping client information secure.
Now you’ve got enough information to sit down and work out how hybrid working is going to work for you. Think about possible opportunities for social interaction and collaboration. Maybe there are days when you can be in the office for all-team meetings.
Think about what your employer might need from you and devise a plan that will benefit both you and your employer.
Approaching the Conversation
It’s important that you’re prepared to be flexible when planning your negotiations. It would be fantastic if you got exactly what you’re asking for but some kind of compromise may be necessary. Start by explaining that you want to discuss the hybrid working model and how it might work for yourself and the business.
Keep calm and clearly explain the different scenarios you’ve thought of together with the solutions to any problems that might arise. When you’ve finished with your explanation, ask your employer what they think.
They might need some time to think about your proposition. If this is the case, follow up your discussion with a brief email covering the important points and ask if they can let you know a date for a follow-up meeting.
Be prepared for them to say no to your request and if this is the case, make sure you understand the parameters of your HR policy and ask your employer to explain their reasons for turning down your request.
If it feels like they’re just a little apprehensive, suggest a trial period or starting with just one day at home. Whatever the final decision, be polite and professional.
At the end of the day, if they’re dead-set against the idea and it’s really important to you, perhaps it’s time to look for a new position in a company that embraces hybrid working. After all, 82% of company leaders are reporting that they will allow employees to work remotely at least some of the time.
How to Move to a Hybrid Model Successfully
To successfully implement a hybrid working model, you need to follow these steps:
1. Survey Employees to Find Out What They Need
If you want your hybrid model to work it’s good to start with the workforce and determine what they need. When employees are involved in the transition process, it creates a work model that embraces change and keeps people motivated.
A survey is a good option for gauging employee sentiment regarding hybrid work. Include questions about the working setup that works best for them and provide some examples. Other questions you might want to include:
- For what reason would you choose to work on-site?
- Will your focus and collaboration be better on-site?
- How many days would you prefer to work on-site or at home?
- If office space was accessible closer to your home would that be preferable to commuting?
If you know what your employees want to get out of the hybrid work model, it will make it easier to tailor a solution to meet their needs.
2. Create a Clear Policy and Procedures
Policies and procedures are important for all processes and working practices. In the case of hybrid working, they’ll make the transition to hybrid working much easier for employees. You may have to start from scratch with a completely new policy or you might be able to update a policy you already have in place. If, for example, there is already a flexible working policy, amend it to include hybrid working practices.
Some of the things to be aware of, whether you’re creating a new policy or updating an existing one, are as follows:
- Specify the type of hybrid working model you plan to implement and how it’s going to work.
- If hybrid working is not for every member of staff, explain how employees should ask to take part and be specific about who is eligible.
- Make sure staff know their responsibilities and roles in relation to hybrid working.
- Some of your current company policies may also need to be updated so review how the new working model aligns with current procedures.
- Include information relating to hybrid working in policies relating to disciplinary action, grievance procedures, performance, and absence reporting.
3. Consider any Legal Implications of Transferring to Hybrid Working
There are legal implications to transferring to hybrid working which means a formal change of the employment terms and conditions.
Adaptations to current employment contracts should include the contractual location of employees (those working from home will have their home address). Explain to employees wanting to work from home that they will need to discuss this arrangement with landlords, mortgage providers, and house insurers. Working from home may affect agreements and policies.
4. Ensure Communication Channels are Effective
Communication is an essential part of the working day and being able to communicate effectively will have a massive impact on how successful hybrid working model implementation will be.
Asynchronous communication can be very effective. This form of communication allows teams to communicate without needing to respond immediately. Work is allocated to employees and they are provided with everything they need to get the job done. They are then left to complete the task in the allotted time.
Should there be any issues, employees send questions or provide a status update without the need for a manager to be on hand all the time.
You can also add a workplace instant messaging tool such as Google Chat, Microsoft Teams Chat, or Slack so employees can stay connected.
5. Include Opportunities for Training and Development
New demands will be put on your workforce and they’ll be facing unique challenges never faced before. Employers must put in place training and development to ensure the continued productivity of the workforce.
In particular, the development of skills to ensure effective communication, team building, and performance management should be in place. There is a wide selection of online tools you can use to improve and widen the skills of a workforce. LinkedIn Learning is just one example.
6. Provide Equal Opportunities for Hybrid Employee Career Development
A common issue with employees working from home is that they may feel the opportunities for promotions and raises are fewer. This is simply because they’re not in the office every day like other employees. This is known as proximity bias.
There are different things you can do to avoid this happening and to make sure remote workers get the same recognition and opportunities for career development as in-office employees. Start by performing an audit of who is recognized or gets a promotion. A pattern may emerge that you can try to rectify.
You can also use a Human Resource Management System (HRMS) that will help you get an overview of important data, such as attendance and performance. Having this information will enable you to make unbiased decisions about career development.
7. Provide Employees With the Right Equipment and Technology
Whatever hybrid working model you choose, the workforce should be able to switch seamlessly between working in the office and at home.
Employees working from home need the right equipment and technology to be productive. In addition, they also need facilities for transitioning into the office smoothly and quickly. One option is to incorporate a office hoteling concept where employees can reserve desks and rooms at your HQ. To make this work, you should consider using a workspace management software that automates the reservations.
Support and training should be offered to employees, so they can work easily in the office or at home. Consider the following:
- A list of recommended tools and training on how best to use them.
- Making sure data is kept secure by implementing appropriate security measures.
- Reviewing the current equipment in the office and what’s available at an employees home to ensure it supports hybrid working.
8. Implement a Regular Feedback System
If you want the best possible hybrid working system, you need continuous feedback from the workforce in order to find out what’s working and what’s not.
Feedback opportunities include:
- Regular chats
- Listening tours
- One-on-one sessions
- Ask-me-anything sessions
All of these can boost employee and management relationships. Another option is to send our employee feedback surveys on a regular basis, just to gauge how the new working system is progressing. Specific channels are also available on platforms such as Slack or Dialpad.
Hybrid working is a model that can work in a wide range of companies, across various industries. Whatever hybrid model you choose there is a wealth of resources and tools you can use to make the transition and management of the model more successful.
There are a lot of moving parts to consider, but one of the most essential parts of making hybrid work is communication. Platforms such as DropDesk make the process much easier and help to create a cohesive workspace for remote, hybrid, and office team members.
Maria Mladenovska is a Content Manager at ThriveMyWay.com – a one-stop resource for learning how to make money online on your own terms. She is passionate about marketing and her curiosity to learn is ever-evolving.