The year 2020 was a tumultuous year to say the least. With livelihoods around the world upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses weren’t spared the repercussions either. In little over a year, the way business is conducted and the way employees work has changed drastically.
This is precisely why businesses today are considering a cautious “hybrid work” approach when it comes to returning to the workplace. Introducing a hybrid work culture is an attempt at revamping the traditional work culture to achieve both employee satisfaction and an optimal work environment by leveraging the right technology and resources.
In this blog, we aim to shed light on what hybrid work truly is, its pros and cons, and why it is worth considering.
What Does ‘Hybrid Work’ Mean?
As the name suggests, a hybrid work model is a combination of two aspects — the structure and sociability of working from an office, and the independence and flexibility of working from home. There’s no set structure to a hybrid work environment. Businesses can frame it as per their needs and the expectations of their employees. In principle, hybrid work is aimed at granting more freedom to employees to fit work around other aspects of their lives rather than having them plan out their lives over the week during office hours.
What is the difference between remote work and hybrid work?
Remote work allows employees to work outside the traditional office environment, which is exactly what transpired in 2020. When working remotely, employees can usually execute their work responsibilities by accessing the office network from a remote location (mostly, their homes).
On the other hand, the hybrid work model designates certain days for in-office work and other days for remote work that requires individual focus. It is based on the idea that an employee’s physical presence in the office isn’t always necessary for work to be carried out.
Considerations Before Moving to a Hybrid Workplace
Many businesses have had to consider adopting a hybrid work model due to increasing employee expectations as well as certain compelling benefits that this model brings. For instance, 55% of U.S. workers want a mix of home and office-based work, while in the UK, employers expect the percentage of regular home workers to reach 37% post-pandemic as compared to 18% in the pre-pandemic phase.
Although hybrid work can enhance flexibility and employee happiness or satisfaction, it could also prove to be a fairly costly affair. To ensure a smooth transition, businesses will have to provide employees with all the equipment and resources (including furniture) they need while also keeping office space and equipment intact. Besides adding to operational costs, hybrid work adds more complexities to key business functions such as IT management.
Is Hybrid Work the “New Normal” for Businesses?
In a post-pandemic world, certain businesses may allow their entire workforce to work remotely while others may require all their employees to return to the office. However, a significant number will settle for something between the two. Over 80% of executives intend to let employees work remotely at least some of the time as compared to 47% who say they will allow employees to work remotely full time.
On one hand, remote work is here to stay, while on the other hand, it will not be the only preferred work model. A McKinsey report stated that 61% of the workforce in the U.S. can work no more than a few hours a week remotely or not at all. Similarly, a Stanford report estimated working from home to remain at an optimal level of about two days a week after the pandemic. All things considered, the hybrid work model will serve as the “new normal” for most businesses.
However, we must not forget that hybrid work may not be the best bet for every business. Considering the complexities and costs involved, some businesses will err on the side of caution when it comes to implementing a hybrid work environment.
Which companies should let employees work from home?
Businesses operating in sectors such as finance, management, professional services and technology could benefit more from a hybrid work model than ones in real estate, healthcare, utilities, retail trade, manufacturing, construction and hospitality.
Benefits of the Hybrid Work Model
Having established what a hybrid work model is, it’s time to skim through some of the major benefits it could bring to your business. Remember, putting together a comprehensive implementation strategy is key to drawing all potential benefits.
Does remote working improve productivity?
Recent studies have shown a rise in productivity among employees working remotely. According to a survey by Owl Labs, 75% of remote workers were equally or more productive during the pandemic phase. A study by Stanford of 16,000 workers over nine months found that working from home increased productivity by 13% on average. Conversely, 18% of remote workers found it hard to unplug from work and 40% have experienced mental exhaustion from video calls. So, while productivity has gone up with remote work, employee stress levels have also risen in some cases.
Reduced Overhead Costs
Do companies save money with remote employees?
A report by Global Workplace Analytics found that almost six out of 10 employers identify cost savings as a major benefit of employees working remotely. Businesses with a remote workforce can cut costs related to rent and utilities, cleaning services, food and taxes. For example, Dow Chemical saved over 30% in non-real estate costs after transitioning to a remote workforce.
How do remote teams communicate best?
By leveraging virtual communication tools, such as team messaging and video conferencing, businesses have managed to close the communication gap between remote employees. According to a report by Owl Labs, over 30% of businesses have introduced new tools for virtual meetings and remote workers are using video meetings 50% more than they were before the pandemic.
Valued Work/Life Balance
Are remote workers happy?
Owing to the improved work/life balance remote work has facilitated, nearly 60% of Americans think COVID-19 has changed the way they work for the better, according to a WalletHub study. Studies have shown how professionals have preferred the freedom to work while being closer to family while also avoiding time-consuming commutes to the office.
Improved Retention and Recruitment
Do remote work options help with employee retention?
Remote work has profoundly transformed employee retention. Over 50% of office workers would leave their current job if they could get one with more flexibility. Moreover, U.S. businesses that allow remote working will have a 25% lower employee turnover rate according to the State of Remote Work 2020 Report.
Disadvantages of the Hybrid Work Model
Along with its evident benefits, the hybrid work model also presents several challenges to businesses of all sizes, especially with respect to managing employees, ensuring a healthy work culture and keeping the network safe from lurking security threats. Let’s take a look at some of the prominent ones.
Does quality of work suffer with remote employees?
Remote employees may be logging longer hours and increasing productivity, but the ability of businesses to oversee and ensure quality work has diminished. In a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), over one-third of employers admitted that they are facing difficulties with upholding company culture and worker productivity due to remote work.
How do you manage a hybrid team?
From a managerial standpoint, a hybrid team is a lot harder to manage when it comes to setting expectations, keeping team morale up, establishing equity, ensuring the right amount of flexibility, watching out for signs of burnout and more.
What if I can’t get in touch with a remote employee?
The inability to connect and collaborate with a remote colleague in time is a challenge most businesses have had to grapple with. It’s no wonder that 20% of employees find lack of collaboration and communication to be among the biggest struggles of working remotely.
Reduced Social Engagement
How do you build team morale remotely?
As per the Owl Labs report, nearly 30% of U.S. employees miss being around their colleagues in the office and loneliness emerged as the second biggest challenge to remote work. Building team morale in such a scenario is bound to be more challenging than usual.
Heightened Security Needs
How do you maintain security when employees work remotely?
The unprecedented surge in remote work has helped cybercrime flourish over the past year. An 80% increase in cybercrime in 2020 has made building robust cybersecurity resilience even more critical. Ignoring it could be devastating for businesses as cybersecurity threats in 2021 aren’t going to be any easier to deal with.
Ensuring an Efficient and Secure Hybrid-Work Environment
To manage a successful hybrid-work environment, look for a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution, such as Kaseya VSA, that is comprehensive (manages all devices and environments), efficient (powerful IT automation capabilities), scalable and affordable. Kaseya VSA can help you ensure high productivity (with the ability to maintain endpoint and network uptime) and optimal security (with the ability to manage patching, antivirus/anti-malware and backup) required to meet the challenges of a hybrid work environment.