Following COVID-19, many workers have been hesitant to return to the traditional office setting. Most employers have either already made the switch to some type of remote work. For many companies, a hybrid remote work model has emerged, with employees working both in-person and remotely.
Offering remote work allows companies to draw from a larger talent pool around the world. This includes anyone from top executives to developers and marketers living as digital nomads.
The hybrid remote work model can increase productivity while also giving employees more flexibility. However, the switch can be challenging for some employers, especially as they navigate the uncertain future of work.
This article will give you a general overview of how and why implementing hybrid remote work models will benefit your business as the workforce moves more towards this structure, as well as suggesting 4 types of hybrid remote work models that you can adopt.
According to studies, 87% of employees wanted to remain remote after COVID-19, meaning that a large number of workers found that the at-home work environment suited them a lot better than the traditional office setting. 56% of workers stated that they wanted a hybrid mix of both in-person office work and remote work.
As an employer, you need to consider a lot when deciding if your business can move to a hybrid remote work model, such as the size of your company and how workplace culture factors into day-to-day business.
Employers that offer flexible remote work options and schedules are more likely to attract attention from top talent. This flexibility shows that companies are placing a premium on work-life balance for their team members by not forcing them to commute to the office 5 days a week.
When thinking about how to implement hybrid remote work models into your business practices, you should ask questions about the work environment necessary for employees to complete their everyday tasks. Can they work completely from home? Do they need guidance that can only be done in-person? What specific technology can only be used in an office, if any? Does the type of work provide flexibility to remote workers?
Then, you should consider scheduling. Is there a way for you to split up the work week? Is there mandatory in-office work that needs to be completed on certain days? Should you institute mandatory work-from-home days to prevent proximity bias? How can you structure one-on-one interactions with your employees in the virtual space? Do you have the ability to allow part of your team to work remotely, and the other half in-person depending on what work arrangement suits their lifestyle needs?
The at-will hybrid model can allow employees to work 100% remotely. However, with this set-up, employees who prefer the office setting or need some extra help in-person can still go into the physical office and work. Instead of traditional office spaces, many companies rent out coworking spaces, like WeWork.
This is a great option for accommodating the needs of your employees. Thanks to video conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Meet, your in-office team can still meet with employees who are headquartered in their own homes.
The at-will model is also good for sectors like real estate, who want to host in-person meetings with clients, investors, and others from outside the organization.
To sum it up: The at-will hybrid remote work model is a great way for businesses to accommodate all employees, but at times it can be a bit uncertain and chaotic as remote work can’t be monitored as closely.
This is a good setting for companies that require a lot of collaboration between employees. It allows for some openness when it comes to individual work, but the main goal is for most workers to come in most days. This is one of the best options for employers who place a strong emphasis on teamwork or projects. It’s also a good option for teams that work with highly secret information and data .
Employers will likely only have to keep a closer track on what employees are doing each day to make sure they can stay home or if they need to be in the office to collaborate together.
For some industries, like construction or manufacturing, this is the only viable model, as these jobs can’t be performed from a remote setting 100% of the time.
Remote friendly or remote-first works best when a sizable portion of your employees can complete their everyday tasks in the work-from-home setting. Normally, these types of companies give prospective employees the option before they even begin to choose if they want to work in the office setting or want to work remotely. Some companies don’t even require employees to live near an office.
Today, most employees want the option to work from home. By explaining during the recruiting process that your company is remote friendly, you will have a better chance of securing top talent and giving them the option that they have the ability to work anywhere, since you won’t need to convince someone to move across the country. Plus, you will save money on employee relocation costs.
This option is most viable for larger companies who have the infrastructure to onboard employees remotely. Many startups and tech companies have embraced this model.
Split-week and week-by-week hybrid remote work models are designed to allow employees to have a mixture of in-person and remote work. This sets up flexible work arrangements that gives employees both a remote and in-office experience.
You could choose to have different teams work during certain parts of the week in-person to avoid overcrowding in the workplace while the rest work from home. Another option is to figure out what meetings or tasks need to be completed in the office and assign those days for in-person work while allowing the rest of the work week to be completed remotely.
Some companies like Microsoft have taken an extra step and reduced the work week to only four days, giving employees a three-day weekend to prioritize work/life balance.
Although this is a great hybrid remote option for larger companies, it might be harder to implement for startups and small businesses, since HR will need to navigate a number of complexities. For some companies, especially Fortune 500 and other major enterprises with a long history of in-office work, this is a great approach to start testing hybrid and remote work models to see how it fits into company culture and productivity.
As your business begins to evaluate what hybrid remote work models best fits, you should also consider the pros and cons of how you can implement (and transition into) this structure.
Although most of the workforce today prefers remote work, there are always issues that arise with this type of setup. Many employees find themselves feeling isolated and struggle with focus and a proper work/life balance, as some employees do prefer to work in an office setting.
Here are the best strategies for helping ease your company into the hybrid remote work model:
Invest in good cybersecurity: Most companies need to invest in good cybersecurity, as remote work has rapidly increased the amount of problems with cyberattacks and breaches of information. Make sure that you have a strong IT department that can help implement strategies to protect classified and personal information for your business. Also, be sure to properly train remote employees on how they can practice safe cybersecurity practices.
Invest in employee wellness: Working from home can be lonely, and hybrid remote work models can also increase burnout among employees. Try to encourage employees to take ownership of their wellness outside of work by encouraging breaks for meditation or exercise. Allow employees ample breaks to make a nutritious meal and prioritize their mental and physical health.
Prioritize engagement: Employees that work remotely may have a harder time staying focused and engaged with everyday tasks. Check in with them and see what would help them best in the remote setting. Or if you’re working remotely and have employees in the office, check to see if there’s anything those employees need specifically. Set clear expectations and don’t fill employees' days with busy work.
Have strong communication: As with prioritizing engagement, you should also make sure that communication is key both among employees and between employees and managers. Make sure that those in upper-management positions are making time for one-on-one interactions with their remote teams the same as they would for their in-person employees. It’s harder to make connections remotely, but try to make employees feel comfortable enough to communicate, no matter where they work.
Test what works best for your company and culture: Before jumping right into a hybrid remote work model, you should think about what exactly might work for your company culture and test this model. This process can take time and you should transition slowly. You shouldn’t jump right into an at-will remote work model without first testing out how remote work fits in with what you’ve already been practicing as a business. This will also ease the tension and allow you to see what fits your company best.
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