The disruption caused due to the pandemic has brought about significant changes to work models. Employers have been thinking about ways to create, facilitate, and operationalize work from anywhere. Increasingly, organizations are realizing that a hybrid work approach may be the best work model to pursue. However, this does not come without challenges and must be implemented with care.
In this article, we will learn about the challenges of hybrid work, explore why businesses are turning to hybrid work models, and understand the HR best practices that can be adopted to enable effective hybrid work.
What Is Hybrid Work?
A hybrid work arrangement is one in which employees are free to work both from the office or remotely from anywhere. They can utilize both options considering all the different factors at play, as per their needs and the needs of their organization. In a hybrid work model, workers have more flexibility and can do their work wherever they are most productive.
Organizations can craft a hybrid work plan that suits the company’s as well as employees’ needs. Hybrid work, to put it simply, combines the best of both worlds. In fact, according to Fortune magazine, hybrid work models are already being used by 63% of high-growth companies.
Numerous permutations are possible for a hybrid work model, some of which are:
All employees work on-site for part of the week and remotely part of the week.
All employees work from home and switch between home and office randomly.
Some employees work from the office and others work remotely.
Some employees work on-site on some days and remotely on others. The remaining employees work fully remotely or fully on-site.
A robust hybrid work model promotes flexibility in terms of the ‘when’ and the ‘where’ of the work, follows a highly collaborative approach, and instills work habits that are effective, and provide autonomy.
Benefits of Hybrid Work Over Remote and In-office Work
Employees who operate in a hybrid paradigm enjoy more flexibility, leisure time, and work autonomy. Organizations that transition to this model are more likely to witness the rise of a dynamic, dedicated, and efficient workforce.
The myriad potential benefits of hybrid work are that it:
1. Facilitates better work-life balance
Working for long hours a day, five or more days a week in front of a screen isn't exactly conducive to a healthy work-life balance. With hybrid work, employees can construct a schedule that best suits them. Employees in a hybrid workplace can plan their time in a way that enhances their well-being. Overall, a hybrid work style allows the workforce to better integrate their personal life with their professional obligations.
2. Increases productivity
An increase in productivity is often witnessed when employees working from home are permitted to come into the office as per their needs. This could be due to various reasons like employees wishing to have a change of scenery, having a face-to-face conversation with their peers, etc. According to data from Accenture, 83% of 9,326 surveyed workers prefer a hybrid work model for productivity reasons. This mix of greater flexibility and increased focus that hybrid work promotes, increases productivity.
3. Reduces the cost of operation (for employers and employees)
Employers are finding themselves in need of less office space as the number of people in the office decreases. Not only can a hybrid model save money on rent, but it can also save money on office supplies.
Employees spend less time and money commuting in the hybrid work model, which is wonderful news for individuals who can't find inexpensive housing near the workplace.
4. Improves mental health
The importance of mental health and its impact on work has been emphasized right from the time the pandemic hit. Hybrid work enables each employee to determine their work style and fit work into their life better. And a better work-life balance promotes mental well-being as it prevents burnout and minimizes stress.
According to a survey conducted by Salesforce, around 59% of respondents confirmed that hybrid work arrangements are optimal for their psychological well-being and just under half of them agreed that their professional well-being is elevated by hybrid working models.
5. Leads to higher employee satisfaction
Hybrid work brings with it the freedom and flexibility to choose the ‘where’ and ‘when’ of work. And with that autonomy, employees experience increased satisfaction in their jobs. Employees who work in a hybrid fashion have a more positive opinion of their organization and HR staff.
As a result, individuals are more likely to report being satisfied while working in a hybrid situation, owing to a healthy balance of working from home and going to the office. An added advantage and a direct result of high levels of contentment at work is decreased absenteeism.
Major Challenges in Adopting the Hybrid Work Model
As helpful as the hybrid work model sounds, it comes with its fair share of issues. It is critical for organizations to make note of these challenges when switching or planning to switch to this mode of work and plan accordingly.
Let us look at some difficulties with adopting a hybrid work model:
1. Security may be compromised
In a hybrid work setting, employees have the freedom to work from anywhere, on unsecured networks which results in susceptibility to malicious networks, prohibited transfer of information through unknown channels, loss of data, etc. Hybrid work can exacerbate the risk of cyberattacks. In a conventional “in-office” work setting, employees work within a single protected network that is fairly easy to monitor. With remote and hybrid work, this is proving to be a challenge.
2. Difficulties in collaboration may arise
Transitioning to a hybrid model of work can be taxing on communication and collaboration. With different sets of employees present in the office and at home at different points of time, disconnects may form. Communication solely via technology may even hamper the quality of relationships that could develop between colleagues. For instance, an employee’s video conferencing platform might not work during an important meeting, or sometimes due to a technical glitch, all the team’s data could be lost.
3. Employees may face burnout
This might sound unbelievable because the hybrid model came into being to facilitate flexibility at work and reduce stress. But at certain times, hybrid work may result in employees pulling a double shift simultaneously while at home – doing household chores, caregiving, and work together. Or they may never be able to switch off from work and they may feel they need to be on call 24/7 since the boundaries between work and home are so blurred. Employees might also find it difficult to strike a balance between what days they have in-office and at home.
With hybrid work, a proportion of employees may suffer from anxiety either due to a feeling of not being supported or heard or due to their inability to adapt to this model. A report by Mckinsey talks about how nearly half of the hybrid workforce reported symptoms of burnout.
Best Practices for HR To Make Hybrid Work a Viable Option
HR professionals can use the following approaches to develop a hybrid work model that supports efficiency, engagement, and seamless cooperation among employees working from diverse locations:
Regular communication is key to good work, especially when working remotely. HR can encourage employees to keep in constant touch. This will ensure that employees build a healthy relationship with each other. Employees might be more engaged and motivated if their relationships outside of work are strengthened. HRs can come up with creative initiatives to foster interactions and facilitate the discovery of mutual interests.
HR will have a pivotal role in ensuring that employees feel welcomed into the office even with a distributed workforce. This could also involve revamping and restructuring the workplace to meet the needs of the employees, keeping all safety precautions in mind.
From a policy point of view, HR can draft new policies that cater to a mixed workforce. Policies around the fact that certain teams work in-house while others work remotely. Taking employee feedback into consideration is integral to this process.
There will be times when employees who work remotely may feel that they are missing out on the perks and benefits that their coworkers who work from the office enjoy. HR can ensure that all employees feel like a part of the organization by sending goodies or well-thought emails to check in from time to time.
HR teams can use the technology at their disposal to strengthen their existing practices, be it onboarding or performance management or time and attendance. All this can be made hassle-free if investments are made in the right HRMS platform.
The innovative Remote Work Suite by Darwinbox helps you maximize the productivity of your workforce, no matter how distributed they are. With Darwinbox’s Remote Work Suite, organizations can empower their workforce to work as efficiently as they would from the office, no matter where they are. You can make hybrid work effortless for your employees with our AI-powered agile, mobile-first HR technology suite tailormade for the ‘new normal’
The workplace discussions of the future will largely center around accepting hybrid work as the preferred mode of work. This switch is quite evident in a survey conducted by NASSCOM and job portal Indeed, which shows that around 70% of IT companies are trying to make the hybrid model work effectively. The survey also found that 66% of respondents reported higher employee satisfaction while working remotely. The hybrid work model is definitely here to stay. It is imperative for organizations and HR Teams to build strategies around adopting this model effectively.
Click here to learn how to craft a rewarding experience in the hybrid workplace for your employees.