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What is a hybrid workplace, why choose it and what are its benefits?

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When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, most businesses had no idea how to behave in the new, remote work reality. For some, remote working has been a blessing in disguise. For others, it has been a nightmare. But no matter which side of the barricade one may find themselves, one thing is sure. Whether you like it or not, the pandemic has reshaped the whole concept of a workplace.

The idea of a traditional, physical workspace has suddenly become outdated, with more and more companies switching to either remote or hybrid work models. And it’s the latter that is becoming the leading approach among businesses. And as more companies embrace the hybrid future, many employers are also considering the switch. But what is a hybrid model exactly? What are its benefits? Are there any downsides? And most importantly, how to create a well-executed hybrid workplace? The following guide provides all the answers.

Hybrid Work Model Explained

The idea behind the hybrid workplace model is pretty straightforward. The employees divide their working time between being in the physical office and working remotely. But while the general concept of the hybrid work model always remains the same, we can distinguish between three hybrid workplace variations.

First, there’s a model where some employees work entirely remotely, with others working in the office. This option clearly distinguishes on-site and remote employees and is the most straightforward example of a hybrid workspace. On the one hand, this approach allows employers to cut costs on office space, as only employees who must work in the office stay on-site. On the other, this model isn’t that flexible, with office employees having to spend money and time commuting to work.

The second approach provides employees with flexibility regarding how they want to work during the week. Employees can decide when to work remotely and when to go to the physical workplace. Advantages here are increased flexibility and lower overhead costs. As for the disadvantages, keeping all the employees connected requires some extra measures.

The last model combines the two variations mentioned above, creating a combo where some employees can choose between working remotely or on-site, with others working fully in the office or remotely. Such an approach offers flexibility but does make it more challenging for a business to create a sense of community within the organization.

A company that wants to incorporate anyone of the hybrid workplace models mentioned above needs to understand its pros and cons. It’s also important to note that while one approach might work for one company, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to work for another.

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Benefits of Hybrid Workplace

As covered, there are three different types of hybrid workplaces, and each comes with its distinct pros and cons. However, since the idea behind the hybrid business model remains the same no matter the approach, the primary advantages and disadvantages remain pretty much the same.

First, let’s take a look at why so many companies have already decided to switch to the hybrid environment and why there are likely to be followed by many other businesses.

Better Work-Life Balance for Employees

Although remote work has as many enthusiasts as opponents, it does provide employees with flexibility an in-office work can’t match. Remote workers can combine their professional and personal lives much more efficiently, as they have more freedom regarding how and when they work. By incorporating a hybrid between remote and office work, companies can still provide their employees with a high level of flexibility while maintaining that sociable aspect of work.

Improved Productivity and Creativity

While many employees thrive in an office environment, not everyone likes being stuck behind the desk for eight hours straight. Switching to the hybrid workplace model offers a more individual approach, as employees can choose more freely how they want to do their jobs in the most productive and creative way. Also, since any physical barriers don’t restrict team members, they can exchange ideas more freely, resulting in more effective collaboration between employees and teams.

Decreased Business Costs

One of the most significant reasons companies decide to embrace the hybrid work model is reduced business costs, both from the employer’s and employees’ perspectives. Firstly, since fewer people are in the office during the week, businesses can opt for smaller and cheaper office spaces. Other office-related costs (electricity, for example) are therefore also lower. As for the employees, the hybrid model allows them to save money on commuting, as they aren’t required to get to the physical office every day.

Downsides of Hybrid Work

Despite having multiple benefits, there are several downsides coming with a hybrid workplace every employer should be aware of when considering switching to the hybrid work model. Let’s look at some of the possible cons of hybrid work.

Potential Communication Issues

Collaborating in the hybrid office can be challenging, especially at first. It takes time to get used to online communicators, not to mention potential problems with internet connection. Exchanging ideas in person is usually more efficient, whereas communicating online often means longer waiting times. This is why it’s vital for a company to use the right tools and provide both remote and in-office employees with the proper equipment so they can communicate effectively.

Remote Employees May Feel Left Out

Although remote work does offer more flexibility, employees who stay remote miss out on day-to-day office life, including office conversations, team lunches, and office parties. And while some may not care about such things, many remote workers might feel left out from the company life as they won’t be able to build relationships and enjoy social aspects of their work. Feeling left out may impact the mental well-being of individual workers, negatively impacting their productivity.

Proximity Bias

Proximity bias can be described as a situation where employees with close physical proximity to their team and company leaders might be seen as better workers than those working remotely. The reason for this is simple. Such employees can visit the office more often, collaborating with other employees in person and talking with the big boss. Because of that, they are more likely to be noticed, which can lead to a possible raise or promotion.

Creating a Thriving Hybrid Work Environment

Understanding how the hybrid work model works, its benefits and downsides is the first step towards creating a successful hybrid workplace. When incorporated the right way, a hybrid approach to work can provide a company with a competitive advantage and the chance to attract top talent. However, creating such a workplace is a challenging task.

If you’re a business owner considering the switch to the remote model, be sure to implement the following:

Embrace Digital Transformation

With some employees working from the office and others from a remote location, as an employer, you need to ensure the communication flow remains efficient. For this, you must invest in the right technology. Online communicators and tools like online collaboration space will allow your teams to communicate with each other and exchange new ideas, ensuring there are no disruptions and that your company achieves its business goals. For more information regarding digital tools in a hybrid workplace, read our blog post here.

Create a Caring Company Culture

As covered, remote workers may feel excluded from the company life compared to their in-office counterparts. As a manager, it’s your job to ensure both these groups feel like they belong in your company, that they feel needed and cared for equally. Otherwise, their happiness productivity might drop significantly, disrupting your organization.

This is why it’s so vital to invest in your company culture. Keep your workers connected, organize online and on-site events, arrange virtual team-building exercises, and ensure your remote and office working employees have access to any help they may require. Also, be sure to communicate with your employees regularly to show your care and keep them up to date with your company goals and values.

Reorganize Your Business Structure

Another crucial thing to consider is how to approach your hybrid workplace. As covered, there are three hybrid work models, and it’s up to you as a leader to pick the one that will allow your business to thrive. For this purpose, be sure to communicate with your employees and see how they feel about possible changes. Once you choose how you want to reorganize your company, involve your team leaders and employees in the entire process and gather continuous feedback regarding the changes in your company.

What the Future Holds

The hybrid workplace model provides numerous advantages for managers and their employees alike. Hybrid work offers the flexibility a standard office work model can’t match, allowing employees to choose whether they want to work remotely or from an actual office. At the same time, it offers more control, as employers can manage their teams easier than in the remote model.

However, for the hybrid workplace model to thrive, managers need to implement the right strategy. It involves investing in advanced tools and technology, rethinking the company culture, and keeping all teams involved in the reorganization process. And with everything pointing that most companies will switch to the hybrid workplace in the next decade, now is the time for leaders to embrace the future. Otherwise, a company risks losing their talent to employers that offer more flexibility.

The future of work is hybrid, whether some managers like it or not.

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