Embracing Hybrid Working: Thriving in the New Normal

In recent years, hybrid working has appeared as a prominent trend revolutionizing traditional office environments.
Hybrid working refers to a model combining remote work and in-person collaboration. According to a recent report by Zippia published in June 2023, 74% of US companies are using or plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model. This trend has gained great momentum, especially with the pandemic, as organizations recognize the benefits of a flexible work arrangement. While there is no “one size fits all” approach to the future of the working model, employees are increasingly demanding a healthier work-life balance, prompting organizations to explore hybrid working and embrace it for success. Employees value the flexibility and autonomy that hybrid working offers. They expect a better work-life balance, reduced commuting time, increased job satisfaction, and improved mental well-being. Employees also expect clear communication channels, fair access to resources and opportunities, and support for maintaining strong professional relationships despite physical distance.

Benefits of Hybrid

1. Productivity: A study conducted by PwC hasshown that 57% of organizations reported higher levels of productivity when working remotely or in a hybrid setup. This is attributed to reduced distractions and the ability to focus on their tasks without interruptions resulting in increased concentration.

2. Employee Satisfaction: In a survey conducted by Ergotron sampling 1,000 full-time workers, 88% of employees expressed higher job satisfaction when given the option to work in a hybrid model. This allows employees to achieve a better work-life balance, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced burnout.

3. Flexibility: Hybrid working empowers employees by granting them more control over their work schedules and environments. This autonomy can boost motivation and creativity, leading to higher-quality output.

4. Well-being: In a hybrid work environment, companies promote a healthier work-life balance, allowing employees to give time to their personal needs, supporting mental health, and reducing stress levels.

5. Talent: With hybrid working, geographical boundaries are no longer a limiting factor for recruitment. Companies can tap into a broader talent pool, accessing skilled professionals from various locations.

6. Cost Saving: Hybrid working can result in cost savings for both employees and employers. Reduced commuting expenses, lower office space requirements, and decreased utility & real estate costs contribute to overall financial benefits. In fact, a research made by OfficeRnD, a company specialized in Flex Space and Hybrid Work Software solutions, has designed a Hybrid Work Savings Calculator that can save companies 40% of their office costs by implementing a hybrid work model.

7. Sustainability: By reducing commuting and office space needs, hybrid working has a positive impact on the environment too. It helps lower carbon emissions and supports sustainability goals.

Embracing Hybrid

To successfully embrace hybrid working, leadership and management need to undergo a mindset change to redefine productivity. Leaders need to recognize the value of flexibility and remote collaboration and invest in the right tools and infrastructure to support hybrid teams. Based on a Gartner study conducted on hybrid work readiness in 2021. They found that 82% of company leaders plan to allow remote working in one form or another, while 47% would allow employees to work from home full-time.

Adopting changes in any workplace requires understanding various considerations. It is crucial for leaders to assess their organizational needs, align hybrid working strategies with business goals, and address potential challenges through proper planning and implementation. Organizations, on the other hand, need to acclimatize their systems and practices to enable the desirable outcomes of this cultural shift.

• Communication and Collaboration: Companies need to establish clear guidelines and use technology platforms that facilitate seamless interaction among team members. Hybrid working requires careful attention to communication channels and collaboration tools to ensure effective information sharing and teamwork. 

• Maintaining Culture: With employees working from diverse locations, keeping a strong company culture
becomes essential. Regular team-building activities, virtual social events, and shared values should be emphasized to foster a sense of belonging and cohesion.

• Work-Life Balance Boundaries: Without proper boundaries, employees may find it challenging to disconnect from work, leading to potential burnout. Encouraging employees to set up clear boundaries between work and personal life is essential.

• Potential for Inequality: Hybrid working may inadvertently create a two-tier system, where those who work remotely have different opportunities and experiences compared to those who work primarily from the office. Companies need to ensure equal access to resources, opportunities, and career development for all employees.

• Employee Well-being and Mental Health: Isolation and lack of social interaction can affect the mental wellbeing of remote workers. Employers should proactively address these challenges by promoting virtual social connections, providing mental health resources, and fostering a supportive work environment.

• Performance Management: Performance evaluation processes may need to be adapted for hybrid working.

Traditional methods that heavily rely on in-person observation and face-to-face interactions may be less effective in a hybrid work environment. Organizations need to explore alternative approaches such as outcome-based evaluation, regular check-ins, and utilizing technology for tracking progress and providing feedback.

• Data Security and Privacy: With remote work and increased reliance on digital tools, data security and privacy have become significant concerns. Organizations need to implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data, ensure secure remote access to systems, and educate employees about data protection practices. Compliance with relevant regulations and standards, implementing secure remote connectivity solutions like VPNs, and promoting data security awareness are crucial in mitigating risks and supporting data privacy.

• Managerial Training and Support: Managing hybrid teams requires a specific skill set. Organizations should offer training and support to managers to effectively lead remote and in-office employees. Managers need to be equipped with the tools and techniques to set clear expectations, provide feedback, and ensure equitable opportunities for all team members, regardless of their work location.

• Inclusion and Accessibility: With hybrid organizations should ensure that remote employees have equal access to resources, opportunities, and information fostering an inclusive culture that values diverse perspectives, and addressing potential biases or disparities that may arise.

• Continuous Learning and Development: In a hybrid work context, organizations should invest in upskilling and reskilling initiatives, virtual training programs, and knowledge-sharing platforms. This enables employees to acquire new skills, adapt to changing work dynamics, and stay relevant in their roles.

Not Supporting Hybrid Flexibility

Failure to support hybrid flexibility can have significant repercussions for organizations. A study by Gallup revealed that 54% of employees currently working exclusively from home and 38% of hybrid workers would likely look for a another job if their employer stopped offering remote-work options going forward. Furthermore, organizations that ignore hybrid working may face decreased employee satisfaction, lower productivity levels, and challenges in attracting top talent, putting them at a disadvantage compared to more agile and adaptable competitors in today’s dynamic business environment.

Roadmap to Success

1. Policies & Practices: Establish comprehensive policies that outline expectations, guidelines, and boundaries for hybrid working. These policies should address work hours, communication protocols, performance evaluation, and the use of company resources.

2. Technology: Invest in technology and tools that facilitate effective communication and collaboration among remote and in-office employees. This includes video conferencing platforms, project management software, and document sharing platforms.

3. Work Arrangements: Recognize that hybrid working is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Encourage employees to customize their work arrangements based on their preferences and needs, allowing for a balance between remote and in-office work.

4. Culture: Build a culture that values trust and empowers employees to take ownership of their work. Encourage autonomy, accountability, and outcomes-based performance evaluation rather than focusing solely on hours worked.

CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development): CIPD published a guide titled ” Effective hybrid working: Practical guidance ” in 2021. It provides practical guidance into the adoption of flexible working and impact of hybrid working across organizations.

Success Stories

These success stories showcase the potential benefits that organizations can achieve through successful implementation of hybrid working.

1. GitLab: a fully remote company, GitLab has effectively implemented a hybrid model by focusing on asynchronous communication and documentation. They have reported strong productivity and business growth, with over 1,300 employees across 67 countries and a valuation exceeding $6 billion.

2. Microsoft: Microsoft redesigned its office spaces to accommodate a hybrid work environment and implemented a hybrid work policy. The company reported improved employee satisfaction and increased collaboration.

According to their internal survey, 73% of employees felt their productivity improved while working remotely.

3. Dropbox: Dropbox transitioned to a hybrid work model, becoming a Virtual First company, providing remote work for all employees and facilitating flexible spaces called “Dropbox Studios” for in-person collaboration and team gathering. As a result, Dropbox reported in June 2022 that 72% of their employees feel more productive, 80% feel
more effective, and 72% are experiencing a work-life balance.

4. IBM: IBM introduced a hybrid workspace, allowing employees to work remotely or from the office. Statistics by Global Workplace Analytics show that IBM saved $50 Million in real estate costs by reducing its office space and implementing flexible work arrangements.

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Conclusion

 

Employees are showing great interest in remote jobs rather than in-person opportunities. According to a study by LinkedIn, remote jobs received 50% of all applications in February 2022. However, it’s important it’s important to note that opinions on the future of remote work vary. Some experts, such as Chris Preston, the founder and director of
Hampshire, UK-based The Culture Builders, believe that the “remote work window” is about to close, as discussed in a BBC article. The future of working models is still an ongoing subject of research, and it is too early to reach definitive conclusions about this topic.

The process of transitioning from a traditional office-based model to hybrid requires more than just a change in working-based environment, it’s a cultural shift that has to be adopted across organizations. Various research and reports have been conducted to study the long-term benefits of Hybrid working and how it can drive productivity and enable businesses to adapt to the landscape of business nowadays. By understanding the benefits, addressing challenges, and implementing best practices, companies can thrive in this era of hybrid working and make it work.

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