All you need to know about hybrid remote work
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The pandemic is catalyzing a hybrid work model in which employees can be flexible and choose how, where and when they work. With this format, companies will grow with motivated, cohesive and productive teams. It is in the best interest of business leaders to create a culture of engagement and collaboration. But is everything that easy?
Different working modelsWell, work models may be divided into clusters by various features, like duration, employees` location, sector of employment, level of difficulty, management type etc. Anyway, we will be concentrated onto employees` presence in office as the main factor.
Everyone is familiar with the traditional model when company has an office (or several offices) where employees are working 9 to 5 maybe occasionally travelling for job related purposes. In such model people usually spend at least 30 min commuting, but some of them need more than 1 hour to get to work.
What about remote work? It happens that you have a talent pool of workers located far-away from office. Or there are some other circumstances when companies are ought to avoid physical meetings. For example, during the period of self-isolation due to global pandemic, the business had to urgently master the remote format of work. And it turned out to have many advantages. There several types of this model.
Fully remoteFully remote work assumes that employees live in different countries and time zones but connected by the same goal. Such employees are able to work from home or any other comfortable location. Working in a completely remote company will require many to rethink and change the approach to business management. But perhaps a shared remote mode will lead to greater crisis resilience and greater efficiency.
Split teamsSplit teams are working in different locations with particular place for each part of the team or department. For example, executives are in New York, marketing team is somewhere in LA and developers live in London. This type of division is great in case of talents searching but requires a strong management system.
It is believed that some important functions cannot be performed as effectively outside the office. The shared physical space unites in terms of culture and increases the efficiency of communication. While the office model has historically proven successful, it will pose significant challenges for those looking to employ a remote workforce.
Companies around the world are building bridges between the past, when most employees were physically present in the office, and the future, which is still unknown. Remote work has become a temporary solution for many businesses. However, it seems that it will stay with us much longer in the form of hybrid remote work models. And this will allow companies to more effectively attract talented employees and create value.
Hybrid modelHybrid model combines teams of remote and in-office workers or allows everyone to attend office on particular shifts. It is an alternative on a way to remote work for some. For others it is the only mean to satisfy everyone. Many companies have been practicing mix of centralized office and work-from-home 1 or 2 days per week for a while now and they see obvious benefits from this.
As for future scenarios, some experts forecast hub and spoke model which in its way compliments hybrid one. In general it is based onto creation of central office with smaller satellite offices (hubs) located in other cities to allow groups of employees cooperating without headquarter attending. This creates the compromise between executives and team members while ensuring flexible and productive workplace.
If you’d like to take a look on a little bit further things to come than you can read research presented by the RSA’s Future Work Centre. It describes 4 possible models of the working environment by 2035: technological advancement and tech giants’ monopoly, the world under control of Big Brother, slowdown of economy, and kind of harmonized co-existence of people and technologies. Basically, all of them look like Black Mirror episodes.
For now let`s stop at hybrid remote work as the most realistic option for pandemic reality.
What is hybrid remote schedule?Even some WFH enthusiasts still recognize the important place in modern business that is occupied by offices with physical presence of staff. The most predictable for workspace 2021 is the emergence of a hybrid business model. It is expected that the mix of office teams and workers in a remote work format will become a new benchmark for the functioning of the business.
Hybrid remote work schedule is beneficial for both business owners and their staff. While employees are able to choose the perfect setup they can work the most suitable and productive way and save time on commuting. At the same time companies will reduce costs on buildings and have more satisfied workforce with much more options to choose from.
As it is stated, the most accepted ratio of work in this model is 51% of time at office and 49% is from home. Or it can be presented as 3/2/2 schedule with 3 days in the office, 2 days of remote work, and 2 weekdays. However, this varies from company to company because of many factors.
At first, it seems hard to manage hybrid remote work team with too many variables. So it is better to use software to create and control shifts. AI-based applications will solve many issues and take away the burden from managers` shoulders.
Companies transitioning to hybrid remote modelDuring the pandemic, teleworking became a necessity for many companies, although it used to be considered a novelty or a strange experiment. The widespread stereotype that such a regime impedes labor productivity has been refuted. Nevertheless, many executives felt that it was not worth switching completely to telecommuting and preferred to combine remote work with office work.
Facebook is moving toward remote-first model. And it looks like in 5-10 years only half of its workforce will go to office.
Twitter practice distributed teams and encourage work from home due to health crisis.
Google is also rethinking their future of work to meet employees` needs.
Reddit offers their employees to choose the best option, but some of them still need to be onsite.
Dropbox is adapting hybrid schedule model to its needs and goes virtual first.
HubSpot has always been a remote-friendly company. But today they are building even more flexible environment of hybrid work focusing onto results achieved rather than place.
Microsoft has provided their staff autonomy to choose whether to keep the desk in office or work remotely only.
Infosys is another IT company supporting hybrid remote work schedule.
Above we have mentioned only a few examples. And there are many others who will follow the same path of hybrid remote model.
Hybrid remote work: Pros and consBy alternating work modes, employees get two fundamentally different experiences. Therefore, despite the successful move to telecommuting, employers are reopening offices to foster social connections, strengthen corporate culture, and enhance business opportunities. Of course, hybrid model has its own strong and weak sides, which you’d better be familiar with:
5 advantages of hybrid remote teams
- The best mix of remote and in-office work. Employees can work from any suitable place while there is still office space to hold meetings and simply for those who like to perform duties there. No geographical limitation is awesome for opportunities growth.
- Big pool of talents not limited to the region of the office area. Companies are able to hire cadres despite their place of living. And then the team members can collaborate in the most effective way even when they are not in the same building.
- Free and flexible. That is one of the biggest reasons to try hybrid model. Workers now have time for their personal lives and tend to form their schedule considering their interests, families and requirements. This helps them to stay focused on productivity while preserving work-life balance.
- Wellbeing of employees is a priority. Flexible management considers workers preferences. Just another advantage of hybrid remote work model is smaller chances to be infected with Coronavirus as people do not need to commute in public transport and interact with others during work hours. Employees can stay with their families and care about own health.
- Reduced costs for office spaces and commuting. Business owners can analyze real estate values and redirect investments from underutilized office space to co-working spaces, or start investing in work-from-home technology that rivals office work technology. Gartner research shows that 13% of CFOs have already cut real estate spending. Instead of using large offices in the city center, consider using smaller back-office offices spread across different locations to help attract talented professionals who do not want to live and move in cities.
5 disadvantages of hybrid remote teams
- Remote workers feel left out, isolated and invisible. Many employees who work from home can experience hard times while trying to integrate into team as they are missing out informal communication with colleagues. Every voice must be heard and every employee at every level must feel that they belong to the team. Maintaining a collaborative spirit will help you preserve the very essence of your brand identity, while making employee management more productive and rewarding. Communication tools are must have here.
- Reduced access to information, which onsite workers share daily in office. Managers must be sure that remote employees have the same amount of information including informal. Cloud-based technologies will assist with this issue. Another tip: use podcasts so everyone can keep up with what is going on in office and create communication channels to share ideas.
- Cyber security issues. Unsecured connection, predictable passwords and human mistakes are fatal for company`s confidential information. When creating infrastructure, especially remote one, we are talking about using cloud solutions. The key point is choosing a reliable partner. A cloud provider must have experience in organizing large teams, on the basis of which the company forms expertise in most cases. Extra tip for workers: do not use public networks to transfer especially important information, use VPN, and communicate with colleagues only through corporate communication channels.
- Productivity maintenance. Many business owners have faced lack of self-control and staff discipline. The employees themselves most often complained about household chores that distract from work, the lack of an equipped workplace and the lack of boundaries between free and working time. Poor quality of audio\video calls and outer noises distracts from work and according to EPOS, 95% of workers struggle to concentrate. Business owners should invest in technologies for remote team members as well as for onsite co-workers.
- Lack of control for managers.It is difficult to assess success of those who work remotely which is bad for their promotion, too. In the end, telecommuters will find they don’t grow as fast as office workers because they are less visible. The most productive of them will go to companies that work completely remotely and invest in team members working remotely. To avoid this, companies need to respect every team member. Productivity and time managers can help to maintain high level of efficiency and show the actual progress of each employee.
What employees are thinking?
Today, almost every industry has been forced to try remote work. As a result, some employees were unsatisfied with such experience, while others are going to evolve further in the direction of partially remote work. The younger the employees, the more they are ready to telecommute at least part-time. Data shows that Gen Z is the most interested in hybrid working model (43%).
Nevertheless, fully remote work is not that desirable anymore due to its challenges. Barco survey shows the next numbers concerning remote and hybrid work: 49% of employees are not that satisfied with the remote work as they were at the start of the lockdown. 42% has problems to stay creative while staying at home. 45% prefer to collaborate with others in office. At the same time 49% says that collaboration on distance feels unnatural.
37% are craving for social side of the office work. Many see distant communication problematic and 56% are looking for simplified apps for video calls. According to another survey 74% of employees all over the world prefer the mix of office and remote work anyway. For the USA this index is 55% and over 50% of the UK employees prefer hybrid model, too. As Lenovo report states, 52% of employees are expecting from companies a shift of working culture towards hybrid model.
Most of Google employees (62%) also want to return to office part time. We can sum up that opinions on hybrid work varies but are mostly positive. And Forbes survey says that 80% of businesses will continue offering remote work option. It seems that future of telecommuting (at least partial) is inevitable and we need to adapt.
Is hybrid model good for your business?First of all, hybrid remote work is not for everyone. Small businesses can successfully exist as remote-only or office-only teams. Some fields are just not supposed to have remote employees and require presence onsite. However, if you are a big company with multiple workers located all over the country or even the whole world, and especially if your field is knowledge-related (e. g., IT, journalism, education) then you definitely need to give hybrid work a try.
2020 brings the ability to create flexible collaboration workspaces everywhere focusing on what every employee needs to be productive. With the adaptation of the hybrid business model, office space will not lose ground. In order to fully support remote work processes technologically, physical office space must be equipped with a top-end technical arsenal. Seamless connectivity, mobile interoperability, and other smart technologies will be an important factor for offices in 2021. Technology plays an important role in shaping work spaces. For example, noise canceling headsets can block out distracting background noise, while dynamic video sound panels can be used for one-touch meetings with speaker tracking and wireless sharing.
However, this format of work will require a fundamentally different approach to workflow organization. Managing remote work is much more than choosing a workplace and meeting other people. It has its own pitfalls and flaws. Naturally, the gap between remote and office may occur, due to tendency to give more attention to those who managers can see in real life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Successful hybrid or fully remote operation takes effort from the management. If you adhere thoughtlessly to systems and processes that fit the office model, any work pattern would be doomed to failure.
Thanks to remote work, companies can enter new markets and customers can receive better services. The number of telecommuting employees will grow for many reasons. This helps the employer save their resources. And if the employer cannot find the right specialist on the territory of the company’s location, he is looking for him outside. Additionally, when employees do not need to commute that often they save time and money. Less traffic leads to reduction of carbon emission which is also good for ecological purposes. Moreover, businesses now can rethink their office buildings for more rational use or downsize rent expenses if there is unnecessary space. Well, you will not be absolutely sure about hybrid remote work until you try it, right?
ConclusionsHybrid work isn’t going anywhere. Whether you work in a home office or an office building, communications provide room for creativity. This is more important than being able to physically shake hands with the other person. In 2020, it became clear that work should be assessed not by individual qualities of employees, but by real results. One of the most notable business trends, which entailed significant changes in the technological priorities of companies, is the refusal of personal meetings, which have always been considered a key component of business activity. As a result, organizations have turned their attention to unified communications. Yes, they were popular before, but the impetus that the pandemic gave can hardly be compared to anything.
Collaboration technology and digital skills provide a solid foundation for business sustainability and growth. Workers agree that in order to make the changes they and the business need, leaders need to focus on technology investments. Not to forget, that employees` wellbeing should be prioritized during working process.
Hybrid remote work is still debatable for its pros and cons. It demands a lot from management and may cause several challenges to company. But advantages are clear. And while a number of business owners switching to hybrid model perhaps you need to follow their lead.