Hybrid Workplace: What Is It and How Does It Work?
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The global pandemic has changed the way we conduct our business operations, and what comes after this period is not a return to the way things once were nor the death of the office. Instead, we can expect our new working reality to be hybridity, which is collaborating with employees who are working remotely and ones in the same physical place simultaneously.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the workspace that’s bound to take over massive corporations and local family-owned businesses alike.
Thanks to the exceptional benefits for both employees and employers, enhanced hybridity is likely to persist well beyond the pandemic. Thus, businesses need to be dynamic enough to adapt to this new work model and a new normal after coronavirus.
Meaning, leaders are required to understand the power differentials formed within teams from the presence of this new hybrid workplace model and take the necessary steps to level the playing field. In doing this, business owners and managers are likely to see their workforce's morale, productivity, and quality drastically improve.
What Is a Hybrid Workplace?
A hybrid workspace or office is a flexible working environment that’s equipped to support a distributed hybrid workforce consisting of remote and in-office workers. The beauty behind this hybrid work model is that it enables employees with the flexibility to work wherever they feel most comfortable and productive. This could either be in an office space or a remote working area, which is typically a work from home situation (or office hoteling) or a combination of both of these spaces.
How Does This New Work Model Function?
Although this type of hybrid remote work model is relatively new, there are three vital distinctions from previous hybrid or remote working setups that we commonly knew before the global pandemic. These are:
- The days in the office and days working remotely aren’t typically scheduled in advance.
- Working in-office and remotely isn’t static, but rather fluid while shifting in real-time.
- The balance between in-office and remote working has undoubtedly shifted, as there is a far greater percentage of office work being conducted remotely. This is with a hybrid workspace model being the standard form of productivity, rather than the exception.
What Is the Importance of a Hybrid Workplace?
This type of workplace model offers numerous advantages, as a business gains an ever-growing workforce. Here are some of the most prevalent advantages:
A hybrid workplace allows employees to become more accountable and responsible. With less chance of being micromanaged, employees are made to feel more confident and independent about completing their tasks.
This can help motivate them to perform at their best and become more aware of what they are responsible for. Thus, making your workforce more accountable, productive, and disciplined. Thereby, encouraging the growth of employee engagement and productivity levels.
Reduced Operation Expenses
Rather than carrying out daily operations in the office, businesses can implement remote working, which decreases a company’s operating costs. Thus, organizations aren't required to shell out additional cash for large physical office spaces.
Of course, employees should conduct in-office work. However, increased remote working means that it’s no longer necessary to have a massive office space to accommodate employees who are conducting most of their work remotely.
Aids in Financially-Benefiting Employees
How could you not like an organization that puts in the effort to help employees save a few bucks? The concept of a hybrid workplace model helps offer this, as it gives employees the option of working from home. Thus, saving money on commuting to a physical office each day. Additionally, organizations can offer specific allowances to these employees to help them set up a workspace at home. This also works to boost morale, as employees feel appreciated by this business.
Enables Distributed Teams
This transition to a hybrid workplace model allows employees to continue conducting work hassle-free. Additionally, such working environments enable employees to cross-collaborate with groups to better the efficiency of an organization while maintaining a high quality of work. Furthermore, flexibility is available with the presence of in-office and remote working, which aids in boosting overall performance.
It's vital to understand that communication channels might become distraught during the process of collaborating with distributed teams. However, if the right tools and systems are put into place, these shortcomings can be resolved without any hassle. One of these tools that you can include is the hybrid working app from Autonomous.
How Are Companies Likely to Apply This Hybrid Model in Post Pandemic Times?
The pandemic and post-pandemic eras are likely to have a much more flexible hybrid workplace model than any other forms of hybridity experienced in an office environment before. Working from home is likely to remain the norm for most employees while the decision to go back into the office is conducted on a more ad hoc basis.
It's vital to understand that many offices have always included a hybrid work environment. However, as we emerge from this global pandemic, the balance between remote and in-office workers is going to be different. This hybrid workplace model is bound to have a greater number of remote employees. However, the shift between remote and in-office workers is said to become more fluid and constantly changing.
You might be asking what challenges might arise from this fluidity. Well, there wouldn’t be a problem if the in-office and remote split were 50/50 or 65/35, as it would be easier to plan the various tasks that need to be conducted.
However, this change in the existing hybrid workplace model comes with constant movement. This is going to make office planning complex and is likely to have a massive impact that specialized technology and adjusted workplaces are required to support.
Nonetheless, this doesn't entail that the new workplace approach is flawed. The key to combat this planning difficulty is through the optimization of these spaces. Yet, this brings more elements to consider.
When optimizing this space, is the home purely for the asynchronous domain while the office is for synchronous collaboration? This is a complicated continuum and is dependent on both role and personality, which also relates to responsibility and function. The best way to gain the most from this hybridity is through transparency and flexibility.
Providing office workers with the flexibility to work wherever they decide, whether for health concerns, convenience, productivity, or other reasons, puts the responsibility on the organization to develop a workspace that offers exceptional support to both remote and in-office workers.
This support can come in the form of flexible office furniture, flexible technology solutions and workplace design, which can equally equip both types of workers for efficient and effective collaboration. Although this workspace might seem normal for those who have worked through the pandemic, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this hybridity isn’t passing.
Yet, the hybrid workplace meaning is likely to adapt as time continues. This is because such hybridity is staying in ways that are more extensive than before the pandemic. Thus, businesses need to employ new and specialized technology to ensure the communication and planning challenges presented in this new environment are effectively combated.
How Can You Make a Hybrid Workplace?
A hybrid workplace is a new concept that requires a different approach that’s yet to be seen in the corporate world. While business managers and owners might still be in the process of grasping this hybrid workplace model, we can offer a few tips to help provide hybridity to any office space.
Make a Cultural Shift
When introducing a new concept, like a hybrid workplace model, there’s likely to be a significant shift in the organizational culture. Thus, to successfully present the idea of this hybridity, adapting an organization’s culture is an essential part of introducing this new business structure.
As a leader, you need to have an open mind about the changes and challenges you're likely to face while this business structure is transitioning into a hybrid workplace model. Thus, revising your knowledge on hybridity and conducting thorough research can help you become more proficient and implement this hybrid work model with little to no hiccups.
You can also check the topic “Treating Remote Employees Fairly in a Hybrid Workplace" from Toptal, which are about distance bias and how to forge a more inclusive hybrid workforce.
Shape Business Objectives
Whenever there is a cultural shift in an organization, it’s necessary to revise and reshape the business’s objectives. These new goals need to align with a hybrid workplace, as this can make transitioning into such a structural model easier.
As the business manager or owner, you’re required to explore the various opportunities presented from the inclusion of a hybrid work environment. There’s no doubt that the future of work is bound to see several developments.
Yet, this workplace is going to become more employee-centric in the corporate world. Thus, allowing employees to perform without any setbacks while making this work more fulfilling. You should also keep in mind that evolving organizational objectives aids in improving employee’s work efficiency while boosting their morale.
Introduce and Communicate This New Plan
It’s vital that your employees know what you’re planning to do and how you wish to prepare this workplace for the future. Being transparent with your employees is the best option when it comes to implementing a hybrid work environment.
Thus, keeping your workforce in the loop about such developments is going to help them adapt to these changes accordingly. Additionally, you should also communicate this idea to them and ask for any effective feedback. From this, you can gain important information to help you optimize your hybrid workplace model to align with your employee's best interests.
Practice a Four-Day Week
The impact of the global pandemic has left the world slowly gathering its pace back to the norm. However, the pandemic has made some massive and unexpected changes to the corporate world. This has created the demand for a work culture that can fit best with the new conditions surrounding social distancing.
The most effective way of aligning with this demand in work culture is to introduce a four-day workweek. This is going to allow employees to work in-office for four days each week while the remaining days can be where these employees work remotely.
This hybrid model is likely to boost productivity. Additionally, it can also offer a more flexible working environment to employees. Furthermore, it’s going to offer the opportunity to create and maintain an enhanced work-life balance while developing an employee-centric work environment.
Nonetheless, these opportunities can only be received once a hybrid workplace model has been successfully implemented into a business’s organizational structure. Thus, starting with a four-day week is an excellent way of testing out the processes involved in working remotely. From here, you can make the necessary adjustments to specific mechanisms before this remote work is conducted on a larger scale.
Invest in the Necessary Tools
The inclusion of a hybrid work environment is going to require the implementation of various tools available on the market. Even though this model offers the use of office areas for a definite time, the majority of work is going to be conducted remotely.
Thus, businesses should plan for this change and invest in the tools that fit the specific organization’s needs. This is because such investments and implementations ensure the smooth running of daily operations when employees are working remotely.
Understanding the needs of a flexible workspace is going to help decide what tools need to be incorporated. This ensures that the hybrid workplace model is optimized and allows businesses to reap the benefits of hybridity while compacting the risks of flawed communication channels and collaboration.
Wrapping It Up
One possible silver lining that’s come from 2020 is that the global pandemic has empowered business managers and owners to re-imagine the workplace. Methods used to achieve the opportunities arising from the optimization of a hybrid workplace are now something that all managers need to think about. Nonetheless, this hybrid workplace model needs to be well-planned and executed, rather than being treated as a novel experiment if business owners and managers wish to reap the benefits of this hybridity.
Although a hybrid workplace might seem like the solution to a temporary issue, it’s essentially the answer for the future way we conduct work. This model can help achieve a balanced and structured work environment with communication, safety, and mental health being made a priority. The pandemic is bound to end, and when it does, the workspace is going to be a more productive, healthier, and happier place than before with the inclusion of a well-structured hybrid workplace model.
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