In 2020, almost every organization was speaking about remote work. How to pull it off effectively, what challenges needed to overcome, and if it can work for their organization. In 2021, the conversation started to change with more and more people speaking about the hybrid model. How can companies combine remote workers with an in-person formula at their existing workplace now that people are gradually being allowed to gather in a single place once again?
As organizations start to order their workers back into the office space, they are discovering that their workforce is not interested in giving up working from home. Employees who began working remotely because of the pandemic are highly supportive of it and wish to continue working from home. Businesses are no longer in a position where they can't operate remotely. But with the pandemic still impacting many locations, they also can't request employees to return to the office full-time. The best possible solution to this problem would have to be a hybrid work model.
As a business leader, you are most likely interested in setting up a hybrid work model for your organizations. However, there isn’t exactly a clear example since it involves a mix of working from home and the office. The hybrid model looks different for every company, but there are some common themes shared amongst them. For this guide, we’ll go through everything you need to know about a hybrid work model.
What is Hybrid Working?
Hybrid working is a structure made up of two kinds of working practices, or better yet, two working locations, the office, and home. However, the home office is replaceable by another non-office-based location in some circumstances.
Hybrid working is a term that first appeared around 2020. Since then, it has been used by plenty of organizations and employees when it comes to talking about people returning to the office environment. With the pandemic forcing companies to switch over their operations, the results were surprising for many employees since the new way of working proved to be a massive hit.
Of course, many of these organizations had some challenging times setting up the process. The advancement of technology manages to make it possible for hybrid working and companies to succeed in this endeavor. The success of this new working model has led to many people questioning whether the traditional way of working is even needed anymore. In a recent survey conducted by Xerox, plenty of employers stated that they are now searching for innovative ways to improve their technology for hybrid working. With some of them making this working model a permanent part of their company.
How to set up a Hybrid Work Model
While the remote working model was necessary for 2020, it's become more apparent that most employers are deciding to switch things up by introducing a hybrid work model instead of going back to a full-time office model. Plus, many employees have come to enjoy the benefits that are offered by the new ways of working. It has provided them with a work-life balance they are trying to achieve during their time under a traditional working model.
However, hybrid models can vary from organization to organization. Each one needs to be structured in a way that fits the company. It doesn't’ help if the company has set it up hastily instead of taking their time to smooth out the bumps. Some of these problems are due to the technology used for this model. Other times it's because of security and compliance issues.
If you are thinking of building your hybrid model, you need to know how to structure one to ensure it functions properly.
Begin with your management team
Before you start setting up a hybrid working model for your employees, you need to first consider how your management team will fit within this new model. Where are they all based? You may need to ensure that they spend at least a sufficient amount of time working at the office space when possible.
Take a moment to consider where your management team will be most effective in this hybrid model. While they should be allowed to also work off-site like the rest of the workforce, they should be spending far more time working at the office space. There are also co-working options you can provide that may make management tasks much smoother.
However, the degree to which you permit remote management of your hybrid team ultimately depends on the nature of your business. That also applies to your employees. For example, if your business is in the manufacturing industry, allowing your office and administration staff to work remotely is doable. However, that is not going to be a possible option for the employees who work in the production line. This is why before you can start building your hybrid business, you need to consider how your management team will apply to this newly introduced structure.
Something other things you need to consider is how your workforce is currently structured and the number of employees you have in total. If you are planning to create a hybrid working model, you need to differentiate between those who can work remotely. Whether it be full-time or part-time and those who can only work on-site. As mentioned above, an example of this situation would be a split workforce in manufacturing.
Production line employees are an excellent example of a workforce that is incapable of working off-site. Other working roles are incompatible with this workforce model, such as delivery drivers. Identify and categorize your teams and employees who can work from home and those who can't. Another thing to consider is security and compliance when developing this model as well. If your employees are dealing with or accessing sensitive information, it may not be ideal for them to work off-site without a massive investment in security.
Once you have managed to identify these employees who can fit into a hybrid model, you can come up with a plan that works for your organization.
Another essential part of creating your hybrid workforce is technology. The reason why remote working was possible in the first place was due to the technology currently available, making it possible to continue working from home. Take the time to consider how much technology will be used in your hybrid work model. Of course, that will all depend on your business. What sort of hardware and software do you need to use? Which VPN service will you use for online privacy and security? And how will you ensure data security for the employees working at home?
Most of the tech you require is already easily accessible online, with a significant percentage of it behind software-based. The most critical software you need is a video conference platform to ensure everyone remains in communication with each other. With office-based meetings reduced significantly, these video conferencing platforms are required to conduct them on a virtual level. That also extends to those one-on-one calls that have become crucial throughout the pandemic. The software you decide to use should have the ability to share or transfer files and other media securely. The communication software needs to provide a form of communication between employees and customers, partners, suppliers, and so forth.
There is a possibility that you may need to invest in some hardware for any employee working off-site. There is a good chance that they may not wish to use their personal computer or laptops for anything work-related. Plus, it may be ideal for your organization to have them work on standalone devices that can travel with them from home to the office space and any other location they travel to.
The company's IT department will hold a vital role when it comes to setting up a hybrid workforce model. They will need to be allowed some level of access to remote devices to manage installations and have some oversight in case an issue arises. Any software that is used needs to become a common thing among everyone in your workforce.
Productivity and work
It is essential to remember that working from home is not the same as working from an office space. Remote work may have less structure, which could potentially impact their productivity levels. If you are managing a remote team, make sure that there is a decent amount of task allocation. That should include specific tasks, collaboration tasks, or the volume of work. Setting deadlines can play a significant role in maintaining your remote employee's productivity levels.
When it comes to task allocation, you need to ensure that new work and tasks are being distributed evenly among the team. If the manager is working on-site, it may be easier to allocate a new task to an employee that is also working on-site. It could be much easier to discuss the assignment by walking over to their workspace instead of video calling one of the remote employees. However, this can impact the overall productivity of the workflow, so make sure this does not occur.
One of the things that make remote working attractive to employees is that it provides them with flexibility. They can fulfill their job requirements and work within a certain amount of time. However, it’s crucial to keep a coherent structure that the employees can adhere to in some capacity. There may be times when you need them available online during a specific time of the day, such as when a video conferencing meeting is scheduled.
During these meetings, try to include some team-building activities that ensure relationships are being fostered among the team members. If physical meetups are impossible, do whatever you can to substitute a virtual version of the team-building activities to raise morale.
The hybrid work model is going to become the future for many organizations. Too many employees are willing to give up on their job if the organization is unwilling to allow them to work from home. If anything, most employees consider it a must to join a company that is attempting to recruit them. The hybrid model is going to play a heavy role in the coming future for many organizations. This guide should give you a clear idea of what to do when setting up your hybrid work model.