In response to the Covid-19 crisis across the globe, companies swiftly shifted from working in an office to fully working from home, in what is now known as the ‘new normal’.
However, in contrast to expectations, there are various downsides to working from home. From lack of communication to increased levels of stress due to the blurred lines between work and life, employers are finding new ways to enable both the organization and its employees to work better together with the increased distance.
A new concept of ‘The Hybrid Workplace’ then takes the spotlight as a new and promising work method to solve these issues.
What is Hybrid Workplace?
The Future of Work & New Normal
A Hybrid Workplace is a flexible workplace model, combining on-site office and remote working in multiple work locations. Employees can work from their home, physical office, or remote locations – at cafes, co-working spaces, or work from anywhere that will suit most with their work nature or personal life, and help them improve their own productivity. It’s expected to be the evolution of the new normal since companies have found that fully remote working may not be the most productive method.
For now, it’s the workplace model that significantly matches employee’s expectations. WeWork and Workplace Intelligence Study shows that after Covid-19, employees want a division of time in which they want to spend 36% of their time at a company, 30% of their time working from home, and 34% of their time at satellite offices, co-working to flexible shared spaces or public “third spaces.”
It also aligns with the characteristics of the new generation, who will in the near future become workforce leaders, in having the freedom, autonomy, and flexibility to choose the best place and time to work according to their needs.
Leading Organizations Already Adopt Hybrid Workplace
Google’s Hybrid Way of Working
Google’s CEO has recently informed that Google will adopt a hybrid workplace as their new permanent working model. Amidst the crisis, nearly 60% of Googlers chose to come back to the office, according to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google. Google’s internal survey also reports that only 8% of employees said they would want to come to the office everyday.
They drive this new workplace model by dividing work days into 3 days in office for collaboration and 2 days for remote work and providing more flexibility with ‘Work-from-anywhere weeks’ up to 4 weeks per year.
Benefits of Hybrid Workplace
The benefits of a Hybrid Workplace go beyond just a workplace model, but provides benefits for both the company and its employees.
Positive Employee Experience
It is no surprise that employees respond better when their company allows them to choose where they want to work, according to the statistics of employees’ expectation on hybrid workplace:
> 95% of employees want some level of control over how, where, and when they work. (Workplace Intelligence)
> 83% of remote and on-site employees say that the ability to work remotely would make them happier. (Owl Labs)
> 40% of people say that a flexible schedule is the biggest benefit to remote work. (Buffer)
In summary, a hybrid workplace enables employees to make their own choices for work and also encourages them to have a stronger work-life balance. The model does seem to impact and create a positive employee experience as they perceive that the company cares about them, their wellness, voice, and different work-life conditions. It can improve employee satisfaction to higher employee retention from the sense of ownership of their quality work-life management.
Improve Employee Productivity & Work Efficiency
A hybrid workplace environment allows employees to maximize their productive ways to work. Many employees feel more productive when they work from home, or offsite as the flexible time and new environments help increase their focus, especially when doing individual tasks. In which, statistics indicate that:
> 77% of remote employees say they're more productive when working from home. (CoSo Cloud)
> 76% prefer to completely avoid their office when they need to concentrate on a project. (Atlassian)
In the same way, working at the office after remote work offers better focus on collaboration time with teammates, leading to better communication and work efficiency.
Reducing Operation Costs
A hybrid workplace is remarkably economical for company operation costs, especially for startups and small businesses to reduce expensive office renting and instead, shift the minimum operation costs to the co-working spaces where they can optimize when and where to physically collaborate. It also helps the corporates reduce the cost of large scale offices and office maintenance. While it helps reduce office expenses, the positive employee experience to higher employee retention will definitely help companies cut the turnover and training costs.
The Challenges of the Hybrid Workplace
Despite the fact that Hybrid Workplaces have potential to become the new norm, and is also what employees are coming to expect, a hybrid workplace is not an easy concept to adopt. Here are challenges to consider to make your hybrid workplace initiative successful.
Cultural Shift from the Dispersed Workplace
The disconnection of company culture is highly risky when employees work at different locations. This is especially true when a lot of the time, company culture and relationships are built on physical interactions.
It is difficult for team leaders to find the best way to build employee relationships and engagement across distances, and organizations may find it a challenge to strengthen cultures and core values equally amongst remote and on-site workers.
Company culture will be perceived differently with dispersed work locations, and therefore the company may need to revisit its corporate culture strategy before adopting the hybrid workplace model.
Communication Plan & Open Communication
Transparent communication is one of the most important aspects of a successful transition towards remote working. Although employees are happy to get to work from anywhere, employees' morale can rapidly drop when they do not feel engaged with their colleagues, teams, or the company itself.
There is no doubt that finding a way to communicate effectively with employees is extremely difficult, but it should be one of the top priorities for managers and the HR team to develop a communication strategy that keeps remote employees updated and engaged.
Tools to Manage Employees & Support a Hybrid Workplace
Companies need to provide the right collaborative tools for those who work remotely and on-site, ensuring all employees work efficiently in any type of setting. For the HR Leaders, the challenge will be on how to make a hybrid configuration work in terms of people management.
Today there are various digital tools available to help track and support the complex requirements of People Management, from the more flexible work schedules to benefits administration. Finding the right HRIS tools that can support a hybrid workplace will be key in balancing productivity, employee engagement, and a positive employee experience.
Remember, even if a hybrid workplace looks promising enough to adopt as a new work option for your employees, it’s better to listen to what your employees actually want. Internal surveys are an excellent tool that allows leaders to truly understand and gauge employee expectations and help find the right ways to enhance employee experience.
If you are considering a hybrid workplace, and are exploring tools to manage flexible and complex work schedules, be sure to check out Humatrix – The Ultimate Digital Work-Life Platform.