What is a hybrid model
This is a work format in which employees are not required to be constantly in the office. Sometimes this is called the situation when only people in certain positions should work not from home.
Some companies have been using the hybrid model for a long time, but it really became popular after the start of the pandemic . Then the organizations had to close offices and send employees home. As things improved, some returned to work. So the office and remote work began to complement each other.
Although many companies today are trying to return to the standard workflow, the hybrid model is likely to stay with us forever. Gartner, the largest IT consulting company, named this type of work activity as one of the expected trends of 2022.
How the hybrid model works
Researchers at Jabra, an audio device company, in an article for the Harvard Business Review point out three possible hybrid models:
- The company decides which days tasks are performed from home and which days from the office. So, Apple requires its employees to be personally present on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
- The company determines the minimum possible number of days to be spent in the office. For example, software developer Kissflow allows staff to work remotely for three weeks and one week from the office. It turns out a kind of compromise: the leadership does not give subordinates complete freedom, but does not establish a strict regime.
- The company allows you to work remotely and visit the office at will. So did Google and Twitter. At Barlow law firm in Chicago, for example, employees only go to the office if they need access to records.
Sometimes the hybrid format assumes that only those whose presence there is necessary are in the office, and the rest work remotely. Microsoft did the same. Employees who can perform their duties from home are free to visit the office if they wish, if the epidemiological situation allows.
Why the hybrid format will replace the standard model
It has many advantages.
Companies can hire the best workers regardless of location
If the hybrid format involves visiting the office at will, or only key employees need to come there, then the rest can perform tasks remotely.
Thanks to this organization, companies can look for suitable candidates in any city and even country, or hire people who are not ready to visit the office for other reasons. As a result, the chances of finding a talented employee increase.
Employees are often more productive
It may seem that by working from home, people will be more distracted and less likely to perform their duties. But it is not.
Microsoft researchers surveyed 30,000 people around the world to evaluate the impact of remote work on productivity . 82% of respondents reported that their productivity did not fall or even increased.
Subjective feelings are also confirmed by data obtained by researchers at the London Business School. They analyzed what managers, accountants, designers and developers spent their time on in 2013 and 2020. It turned out that during the period of isolation, employees began to take their duties more responsibly, and perceive the tasks themselves as less tiring. Working from home, people began to manage their time more efficiently and spend less energy on meetings – as a result, productivity increased.
It is convenient for employees to work outside the office
A free visit to the office allows you to distribute tasks so that they are more comfortable to perform. For example, at home you can work on tasks that require concentration , and go to the office to discuss joint projects.
According to a Jabra survey, 61% of workers would like to be able to visit the office as needed. At the same time, 59% of respondents said that the flexibility of the schedule for them is even more important than salary and other benefits. Microsoft also reports that 70% of participants in its study would like to maintain the format of work that was established during the pandemic.
In the new realities, for employees, the office has become more of a place of communication, and visiting it is a privilege, but not an obligation.
Increased economic efficiency
Employees are aware of the benefits of a hybrid model, so they are more willing to go to a company where they can be in the office at will.
This means that firms with such an organization of work will find it easier to attract the best personnel and increase productivity. Thus, Gartner predicts that the income of 75% of “distributed enterprises” will grow 25% faster than that of competitors.
In addition, the hybrid format helps to reduce costs. For example, companies can reduce the cost of corporate transportation.
Companies can easily switch to full remote
After all, both management and employees already have experience working from home. This is especially valuable during a pandemic: the authorities are able to announce a lockdown at any time, and the incidence can increase within the company. The hybrid allows you to survive such shocks with minimal losses.
What are the disadvantages of a hybrid model
Along with the advantages, it also has disadvantages. First, not all companies can use this format. Drivers, cashiers, doctors, police officers are forced to go to work, regardless of the environment. Secondly, some hybrid mode options do not allow you to freely choose between home and office , which negates many of the advantages of the format.
The hybrid model also has other disadvantages.
Employees can get tired of chats and online meetings
To establish interaction in a team, some of which work from home, and some from the office, you have to use instant messengers and organize video calls. As a result, the working day has become much more intense: for example, from February 2020 to February 2021, the time spent in corporate chats increased by almost 45%, and in online meetings – by 148%. Such stress can lead to fatigue and burnout.
There may be technical problems
As Microsoft researchers write , most managers rarely pay attention to the difficulties that their subordinates have. Meanwhile, not all of them can boast of good Internet and a comfortable workplace.
According to Microsoft, 42% of employees don’t have all the supplies they need at home. And 46% complain that the employer does not compensate for expenses (purchase of equipment, Internet access) in the remote format.
Employees may experience a sense of inequality
Those who have switched to remote work may feel inferior in comparison to office workers. For example, to feel that the authorities do not see their contribution to the common cause. Indeed, at a meeting where some are physically present, while others are connected via Zoom, it is even more difficult for the latter to speak out. They can be trite hard to hear . Yes, and wedged into a lively discussion, being on the other side of the screen, is not so easy.
Such meetings can even bring discord into the team. Some employees may not understand why they are required to come to the office while someone else is at home. Others – to feel that they are not listened to and not particularly appreciated . In such a tense atmosphere, conflicts become almost inevitable.
Interaction between employees may decrease
Due to the online format, employees focus more on the tasks of their department, which negatively affects the interaction between teams. Relatively speaking, the development department begins to live with its own problems, and distribution – with its own. As a result, it becomes more difficult to create a product that is both functional and attractive to the user.
How to organize effective work with a hybrid model
With the right approach, its minuses can be turned into pluses.
If you are a company leader
Here’s how you can do it:
- Respect the rights of employees. In the new conditions, it is worth listening even more carefully to the opinion of subordinates. Thus, employees may consider the requirement to return to the office on a permanent basis as a violation of their own rights. For some, this can even become a reason for dismissal .
- Distribute the load wisely. To do this, it is worth holding a general meeting and asking which tasks are easier for employees to perform at home, and which ones in the office. The discussion will help you understand how to organize the work. For example, you can make it mandatory to visit the office during the preparation of quarterly reports.
- Clearly define the work schedule and responsibilities of employees. It is important that the company has clear job descriptions. People need to understand well what is required of them, how the interaction works, who is responsible for what, when and why they work at home or in the office.
- Create a comfortable virtual environment. Get a task manager and define a single messenger for business correspondence. It is better to transfer the document flow online so that employees do not carry piles of papers. It is also worth establishing clear rules for meetings , such as the order of reports and opinions.
- Make your office a space for team building and co-creation. Not everyone is eager to return to a traditional workplace, so you need to make the office a space where you want to come. You can, for example, abandon the standard layout with closed corners or offices and create areas for communication.
- Provide employees with everything they need. Give out laptops to those who don’t have a home computer, buy copies of the software, and pay for mobile phone and internet bills. So employees will not only work more efficiently, but also feel the attention from management.
If you are an employee
To ease your transition to a hybrid format, you can do the following:
- Take advantage of flexible schedules. Distribute tasks so that, for example, negotiations are held in the office, and reporting is done at home, in silence. Benefit from free office visits. For example, discuss with management the possibility of leaving work early so that after completing all the tasks in the morning, you do not get stuck in traffic jams.
- Set up a workspace at home. You can even try to recreate the atmosphere of the office, for example, arrange stationery in a similar way. This will help you switch between remote and regular formats.
- Remember to separate work and personal life. If you can get so carried away that you don’t notice how time flies by, set limits so you don’t exhaust your body. For example, dedicate no more than eight hours to work tasks when you are at home, or enter a daily routine similar to the office schedule.
- Get the right tools for the job. Purchase or ask the company for a laptop, mouse, headset, and set up fast internet.
- Take care of your own convenience. For example, you can buy two laptop chargers and two mice, and keep one set of accessories at home and the other at work. Then you will not need to carry anything with you except a laptop. You can also scan documents, use online editors and cloud storage so as not to carry heavy folders from the office home and back.
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