For most companies, regardless of industry and size, adopting a hybrid working environment is a significant departure from the traditional model. However, due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and employee safety, millions of employees have now embraced a work-from-home or hybrid work model (where employees split their working hours between in-office work and working from home).
Although forced, the pandemic has–in many ways–redefined the traditional work model. According to data from the PEW Research Center, 71% of workers in 2020 did their job from home all or most of the time. That same research found that more than half, given a choice, would want to keep working from home even after the pandemic has subsided.
Going back to the traditional on-site, 9-to-5 model, however, could be seen as one giant step backward by employers and employees. What does the future of work look like within your organization? Read on to understand the benefits of hybrid work and its value among employees.
Benefits of a Hybrid Working Environment
A hybrid working environment can benefit employees and employers. In fact, a recent survey found that 50% of employees would likely look for a new job if their employer failed to adopt a long-term flexible working environment.
So, what is it about a hybrid working environment that attracts employees?
Work When and How You’re Most Productive
In a traditional working environment, you’re expected to be at your desk and ready to work between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (give or take). In some hybrid working environments (based on the discretion of your manager), you may have more flexibility to work when you feel like you are most productive. For example, many people work best in the morning while others work better in the evening. For others, a longer lunch break to stretch your legs and walk the dog could prove more beneficial.
Whatever the case, savvy HR managers and team leaders will communicate transparently with their team and set expectations early on. It's also critical, if moving to a new work model, that employees feel comfortable approaching their managers with questions to avoid misunderstandings later on.
A Better Work-Life Balance
Flexibility is a key reason why employees love the hybrid work model. Although not all employees or employers may benefit from it, those who embrace the hybrid work model say they enjoy the increased sense of balance, especially when they have to take care of daily demands in their personal lives. As burnout rates continue to soar across the nation, restoring and maintaining your employees' sense of balance could go far in the long term.
A Focus on Health and Safety
Just under half (42%) of employees say that they are worried about their health and safety if and when they return to the office. Embedded with a hybrid working environment, in most cases, is the ability to stay home if you’re sick and avoid jeopardizing the health of your colleagues.
Moreover, for employees with compromised immune systems, serious health concerns or special needs, working from home may be simpler and less cumbersome.
Save on On-Site Expenses
Working in a hybrid environment could allow some employers to rethink the annual budget. If your company does not own a permanent location, then it could be worthwhile to consider the savings of reducing on-site employees. As you begin to rethink your workplace strategy, be sure to consider other expenses such as supplying beverages or snacks, monthly parking permits, on-site equipment, and more.
Adopting a Hybrid Working Model
When planning out your hybrid work plan, it’s important to keep employees in the loop.
According to a recent study from McKinsey & Company, 40% of employees said they were unsure of their company’s long-term plans surrounding work-from-home days or a permanent hybrid model. This lack of communication or increased uncertainty can also deteriorate employee well-being and productivity, noted the study's authors. According to the same report, employees who feel included in company-wide communications are nearly five times more likely to report increased productivity levels.
The primary benefit of a hybrid working environment is that it can address employees’ desire for flexibility. For the young mother who has to pick her kids up from school, workplace flexibility means starting her workday an hour earlier. For your average commuter, working from home means saving your tenured employee $400 a month in gas. Consider how embedding more flexibility into your hybrid work model could broadly meet the unique needs of so many within your workforce.
What’s more, take the time to speak with your employees. If you’re uncertain whether the majority of your employees enjoy working remotely or appreciate the option for in-office and at-home days, simply ask. Put together a survey and make a point to discuss your findings with your executive team and managers.
When moving to a hybrid work model, it is important to build a company culture with enough flexibility to reasonably accommodate any gaps that may emerge between your remote and on-site teams. In order to do this, encourage team leads to set clear expectations with employees, especially if you have employees across multiple time zones. Some managers may need to consider creating office schedules to control workplace traffic to alleviate health and safety concerns for employees.
Lastly, don’t lose sight of the benefits of a great workplace experience. Cultivating a productive workplace experience and dynamic company culture is about much more than a physical workspace. An optimal workplace experience is about employees, team leaders, and managers effectively working together as a team toward a shared goal.
Craving more workplace-related content? Read on for our blog on the benefits of diversity in the workplace.