The Benefits Of A Hybrid Work Model And Why It’s Here To Stay
The onset of the global pandemic brought on a transformation that shook the very idea of how we work to its core. The traditional 9-5 (or 10-6 for some) with a two-way hour and a half commute was no longer the norm for a sizable chunk of the working population around the world. No longer was it safe to simply have employees commute and cluster into a centralized office space to do their work; the idea of how we should work, and for that matter, where we should work, fundamentally changed over the course of this tumultuous period in human history. Though many would argue against the merits of remote or hybrid work based on very cogent reasons, these arguments often overlook the need for a balanced approach to successfully implement either a remote or hybrid workplace. The hybrid work model, in particular, is one that’s appealing to many employees and employers as they prepare to return to the office in some capacity or another.
What Is Hybrid Work?
A hybrid work model is one where employees have the flexibility to work a portion of their week from home and the remainder of their time in their office. However, it isn’t a rigid model to which a one-size-fits-all approach needs to be followed; employers can have some employees working fully remotely, have some employees in an office, and accommodate a mixture of both remote and in-office work for others. Some companies may even mandate a fixed ratio of time for both remote and in-office work. For example, Synchrony Financial, a prominent New York bank, has told its employees that they’re limited to working a maximum of four days in the office. Regardless of the approach, several benefits can be realised with a hybrid work model.
Benefits to a Hybrid Work Model
One of the key benefits of a hybrid work model is that it offers flexibility for employees and their employers, which is something that most have become accustomed to over the course of the pandemic. Some other advantages to a hybrid work model include increased productivity and employee satisfaction, more opportunities for continuous learning, improved collaboration and work relationships, and better outcomes for employees’ mental health.
1. Increased Productivity & Employee Satisfaction
With the increased flexibility of a hybrid work model, employees typically feel more empowered to capitalize on their strengths, which has a positive impact on their productivity. With a hybrid work model, employees can work in an environment that best suits their work-related needs; for some, they may thrive working from home, whereas others may need a quiet and distraction-free workspace in an office. This level of autonomy to work from home or in an office, or a combination of both also helps increase employee satisfaction because it allows employees to feel a greater level of trust between themselves and their employees. Also, this flexibility may result in an improved work-life balance, which also greatly impacts employee satisfaction.
2. More Opportunities For Continuous Learning
Another important, and somewhat overlooked aspect of a hybrid work model, is that it allows employees to partake in continuous learning outside of the hustle and bustle of their normal work environment. This means that if they’re working a portion of their workweek from their office, they can then utilize the remainder of their time on their personal development goals while working from home, which can lead to better job performance and growth prospects.
3. Improved Collaboration & Relationships
In contrast to remote work, a hybrid work model allows for face-to-face communication and collaboration, which is conducive to healthy team-building, and in turn, in improving collaboration between employees. Allowing employees to communicate and socialize in person will not only facilitate stronger work relationships, but will also help improve collaboration across departments, teams, and workgroups. This is especially true within our current context when many workers have been communicating and collaborating with their colleagues behind their screens as opposed to interacting with them in person. Every in-person conversation, which may only occur during set meeting times while working remotely, can lead to an opportunity for mentorship, knowledge sharing, or developing important professional relationships.
4. Better Outcomes For Mental Health
For many, working remotely has been a boon for their mental health. Working from home eliminated a lot of the stressors that came with a more traditional model of work, such as the stress of commuting or the pressure of putting in more time in the office to meet deadlines. It also allowed employees to explore more opportunities to improve their health and wellness because of this new flexibility. However, for others, who may have thrived in an office setting, working remotely siloed their roles, which led many to feel more isolated and alone. With a hybrid-work model, employees have the opportunity to either work remotely, in person or a ratio that consists of both. This introduces a better work-life fit for employees that have a preference for either type of work, and ultimately, better prospects for an improved work-life balance and mental health outcomes.
Why Hybrid Work Is Here to Stay
The flexibility to either work from home or in an office is one of the reasons why a hybrid work model is here to stay. According to a survey of 3,480 remote workers at Slack, the company found that 63% of their employees desired a hybrid working model, where 20% wanted to work remotely full time, and 12% wanted to return to permanent in-office work. This desire to work within a hybrid work model was even more pronounced among workers aged 25-34, who predominantly expressed a preference for hybrid work. While working remotely, many employees discovered that the flexibility afforded by remote work actually allowed them to be more productive while enjoying a better work-life balance. However, there are merits to in-office work; the office is still an ideal place for collaboration, creating professional relationships, accessing mentorship, and building out your organization’s culture.
There’s No Turning Back
We’re at a pivotal point in history where a profound shift in how and where we work has begun, and there’s no turning back. Because of the pandemic, and the ubiquity and flexibility of remote work, this point of no return is further exemplified by what’s happening right now. We’re in a period that many economists and pundits are calling the “Great Upheaval”, where, according to recent research by Microsoft, nearly 41% of the workforce is preparing to leave their employer this year. Many have realized that the time they spent commuting could be allocated to personal development, improving health and wellness, spending time with family and friends, and pursuing their interests. Others have experienced a sort of digital burnout from working remotely in their respective silos without much interaction with their colleagues.
You’re probably wondering what bearing these findings have on the longevity of hybrid work. Well, for starters, it illustrates that employees across the globe have had a taste of what flexible work offers, and there is no going back since many are willing to simply leave their jobs to experience more freedom from the constraints of a more traditional 9-5 work model. However, it also demonstrates that remote work isn’t for everyone – many employees miss collaborating, socializing, learning, and growing within a physical office environment. You can do some these things, to some degree of success, when you’re working from home, however, face to face communication lays the groundwork for improving your organization’s collaborative potential, building stronger work relationships, and creating a healthy corporate culture.
The Future of Work Is Flexible & Hybrid
As a result of this inherent need for freedom, flexibility, and face-to-face communication, a hybrid work model is one that offers the best solution for businesses looking to adapt to a post-pandemic world. As we discussed earlier,a hybrid work model offers a range of benefits that includes increased productivity and employee satisfaction, more opportunities for continuous learning, stronger collaborative dynamics and work relationships, and improved mental health outcomes for employees.
The flexibility offered by hybrid work is unparalleled because it gives employees what they’ve been demanding for years and years – a healthier work-life balance and an improved work-life fit. Things have undoubtedly changed, and many would argue for the better. However, creating a successful hybrid workplace that fosters collaboration, productivity, and growth will require some careful preparation and planning as businesses continue to evolve and adapt to the uncertainties of today and tomorrow.
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