Is Hybrid Workforce the Future of Work?
People considered hybrid working from home odd and unnecessary before the pandemic, but since we had to change how we work, it has become more popular. However, it's only natural that people want to go back to their offices and onsite working, but it's not easy to transition to a full onsite work model with the current pandemic, so some have chosen to go for a hybrid workforce.
That work strategy has given numerous advantages and we can deny the benefits of work from home to the companies that have applied it, boosting productivity and creativity among employees. However, it's not easy to transition from a remote or onsite work model to a hybrid workforce since you need to know the basics to understand how it works. That's why we want you to keep reading this article to learn everything you need to know about transitioning to a hybrid work model.
What Is a Hybrid Workforce?
Before getting to know how to maintain and develop it, we need to know hybrid workforce meaning. A hybrid workforce, or a hybrid workforce model, consists of having a team of remote workers collaborating with a few onsite employees working at an office. The remote-team and the office team work together and merge their jobs to meet the company's needs and boost its productivity.
You could think about it as the perfect combination of onsite and remote working since it uses the best of both work models to develop an optimal and comfortable work environment. Hybrid working is also a great way to start transitioning from a remote work model to an onsite one, preparing yourself and testing how your employees manage to work at the office again.
How the Pandemic Impacts the Way People Work
Naturally, the pandemic changed the way we do everything, from studying to working, and that is crucial to understand why a hybrid workforce is so effective. When no one could work as they normally did, and most companies couldn't go full remote because of their line of work, hybrid working was what helped them keep going with their business and improving their work quality.
That's why adopting a hybrid workforce model is perfect for this kind of situation since you are allowing your workers to have a flexible productive work from home schedule while reminding them that someday everyone is going back to the office by sending a small team to work there. The pandemic was a setback to office working when it started, but it gave us the key to discovering a working model that improves companies' productivity significantly.
How Businesses Benefit from the New Hybrid Work Model?
As mentioned before, the businesses that decided to try a hybrid workforce model received visible advantages that none of the other work models could provide them. Those benefits come from an increase in the employees’ well-being, providing them with a flexible working schedule and a new way to complete their daily assignments. We want you to understand what makes this work model so beneficial and profitable to companies, so here are some of the primary advantages of a hybrid workforce:
Adopting a hybrid workforce is the best way to address productivity issues among your employees because it allows them to work from home and offers them the freedom to design their ergonomic workstation, work items, and work schedule, giving them a sense of self-development that encourages them to keep working.
Your employees' mental health is highly improved with a hybrid workforce, eliminating the anxiety that commuting and office distractions can produce on them. Physical health is also promoted since they can purchase ergonomic products for their home office and adjust them to correct bad posture and optimize comfort; that way, they don't get distracted by back pain or stress, so they only focus on doing a good job.
With hybrid working, you don't only have people working from their homes, though. Remember that there is a small team that works from an office and collaborates with home employees. It is not difficult to improve effective remote collaboration among them. However, working from an office has some advantages too, since onsite working provides them with a different perspective and point of view than the remote working team.
Take into consideration that most people you send to the office are people who haven't gone out in a while due to the pandemic, so getting to interact with other people represents a positive change in the way they work and develop new ideas.
As you could see, the company's productivity depends on your workers' well-being because of how it affects their job performance. There are many ways to improve their well-being that encourage them to be more productive, but hybrid working does all the work by itself. We mentioned numerous benefits that this work model provides to the people who apply it, but let's go deeper on how beneficial it is to workers.
Most offices have standard chairs and desks unless you decide to change them, which can be quite expensive. Traditional chairs are detrimental to physical health, producing back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and bad posture when sitting on them for an extended time. That's because they are not made for that kind of environment and support only a few hours of use, so they don't provide any type of lumbar support or range of adjustment.
Allowing some of your employees to work from home and organize their home office gives them the possibility to invest in ergonomic products they can take into the office when the pandemic ends or when they have to shift with the other teams. Ergonomic chairs provide optimal lumbar support and many adjustment possibilities such as seat depth, seat height, chair reclining, and many other features that help correct your posture and improve your productivity.
By doing what we mentioned above, your employees are setting a comfortable workspace that promotes productivity, creativity, and makes them more active. Being comfortable while working shows excellent advantages in the short-term, so tell them to try that. The same happens with ergonomic office desks since they allow the user to work sitting or standing depending on their personal choice.
Lower Business Cost
If you have fewer people working at the office and more in remote working, you can lower your business cost significantly, and that's a reason why a hybrid workforce can be a top choice even when the pandemic ends. Of course, you can invest in many things to improve your work environment to the ones working there like modern office furnitures, but you can also save a lot of money from many typical situations when onsite working.
It can seem mild, but team bonding events are expensive to managers in the long run. Regardless of that, they are necessary to keep your workers happy and make them trust you and respect you as their boss. Things such as buying birthday cakes and balloons are an expense that counts at the end of the month, but that doesn't mean you should stop team bonding activities since now you can make them online.
Take advantage of the communication channels you use to talk to your employees to organize virtual team bonding activities that don't cost you any money and still do the job you want them to do.
Regardless of the money you save from onsite celebrations, there are more things that reduce your business cost; one of them is cutting the costs of office supplies. Each month you would have to pay the office rent if you had to, buy office equipment and check if you needed even more, and work to maintain or remodel the building. With a hybrid workforce, you can cut all those expenses and use that money for other things that benefit the company.
More Hiring Opportunities
Using an onsite work model had its benefits at its moment, but it also had many things that limited what you could do to improve the company's productivity, and one of those things is hiring people out of your town or state. That’s a problem that tormented business owners relentlessly since they could have the perfect choice for a job, but if that person lived far from the office and couldn’t move out to your town, you had to let them go.
Hiring remote workers and letting your old employees work from home makes you develop new communication channels, so you can open vacancies and send job offers to people out of your city or state. That allows you to extend your talent pool and know all kinds of people who can help you expand your business to other parts of the country. But it also is harder for you to manage time pressure for hybrid work because of different time zone problems.
Regardless of that, you can go a step further and look for people outside of the US, creating a multi-cultural team that is skilled and experienced in other subjects related to your line of work. Workstyles vary depending on where you do them, so having employees worldwide allows you to learn new things and perspectives that can give you an advantage against your competitors.
How to Prepare for a WFH Future?
Transitioning to a hybrid workforce model prepares you for a WFH (Work from Home) future, making you stay tuned for the technological developments and advancements regarding communication channels and virtual tools to keep working. It's possible that onsite working never goes back to what it was, but that's not bad; instead, it can be an advancement. However, you have to prepare yourself and your company for that, so here are some things you should do to prepare for a WFH - future of work for business.
Read About the Development of Technologies that Support Remote Working
Many companies specialized in technological and virtual development are actively working towards the same goal: improving virtual tools used for remote working like virtual meeting platforms to make the communication channels smoother and clearer for remote or hybrid workers and companies. It's easy to stay behind because of how fast everything is advancing, so keep an eye on that to upgrade your virtual tools when needed.
Digitize your Documents and Information
Working at an office means handling a lot of paperwork every day, and the problem with that is that it could be confusing to store all those papers and organize them. It's not uncommon that there are administrative issues due to important documents missing, losing a lot of time searching for them or replacing them. You don't need to have as many documents on paper when hybrid working, so it's good that you start digitizing them to your work computer.
When transcribing your documents to your computer, you can have a clearer and easier way to organize them and look for them, creating a database that you and your workers can consult anytime you want. However, it's essential that you invest in cybersecurity plans and strategies in the long-term to avoid cyber attacks, because cybercriminals and internet viruses can be very dangerous to your information and company.
Is Hybrid Workforce the Future of Work?
Considering what we analyzed in this article, we can agree that a hybrid workforce is the future of work models even when the pandemic ends. The advantages and benefits it provides are groundbreaking regarding office working and productivity boosts, showing unexpected improvements in the short term. However, you need to prepare yourself properly to transition to this work model successfully.
Not all types of organizations can go to a hybrid workforce at the moment since there are still some limitations that don't let them work without losing productivity and lowering job performance, but it's clear that in a near-future almost every company could adapt to this work model regardless of its line of work. Make sure that you study the tips and guidelines given in this article to adapt them to your specific company.
There are some things to consider, though. Cybersecurity is an essential matter to take into account when talking about digitizing your documents and shifting to remote working. The pandemic left the door open to new work strategies and virtual tools, but that increased the number of cybercriminals attacking defenseless companies.
Make sure that you invest what you need in cybersecurity measures to avoid any problem and keep enjoying the benefits of a hybrid workforce model.
How Older Workers Can Get Ready for the Hybrid Office
Clearly the pandemic has defined hybrid workforce as the new normal of working remotely. The benefits to employees and companies, both, are many. As employees expressed concerns when asked to return to office, leading companies like Google, Microsoft, Citibank and many others have had to relook at their remote working policies.
Studies initiated to understand the needs of employees has resulted in a need for a hybrid office. A study by a recruitment organization, Flexjobs, showed that nearly 80% of those surveyed prefer to work from home post pandemic. Another recent study of companies by WeWork reported that 79% of those surveyed would encourage their employees to work from both their office and remote working. This was if their roles would allow them to work remotely. Redefining what is a hybrid workforce, has taken new meanings for companies, as they challenge themselves to stay ahead of the competition. Here are a few sample Covid return to work survey questions.
Here are 5 tips for older workers as they settle into a hybrid workforce model.
1. Adapting to a Hybrid Office
As older folks get ready for the hybrid office, accepting the change in this new way of working is important. The new normal includes meeting colleagues for a cup of e-coffee, sharper and smaller meeting hours, ‘being on the camera’ at work and meetings, and more. The transition is likely to be smoother and easier, once they settle in mentally on what will make them successful in this new model.
2. Understanding Expectations
Older employees need to acquaint themselves with company policies on hybrid workforce meaning in depth. This will enable them to make the best use of such policies and manage situations better. They need to be prepared to adapt to new technology, making it easier to connect in this virtual world. They should hold discussions with their managers to set and understand expectations from their roles and workplace. Focussing on how your work week is structured would help you plan and make the most of the days when you get to the office for work.
3. Communicating Effectively
Being connected with your colleagues doesn’t mean that you need to depend only on virtual conferencing tools like Zoom, Webex or more. Hybrid office offers you opportunities to connect with colleagues in person when you are in office. Plan to make the most of your day on the days you get into office. While working remotely, you may need to structure your work to stay connected with employees and colleagues at the workplace. Using a video camera on calls, having a picture of yours in your digital signature are ways to ensure you are communicating effectively. Here are some ways for virtual communication effectively.
Focus on your performance rather than just being present for meetings. Prioritize your questions and tasks as meetings offer you limited formal connection with colleagues and leadership. Focus on your communication to capture your accomplishments over work tasks. This is especially important for folks who are away from physical meeting spaces.
5. Seeking Help
Do not shy away as you seek help with virtual tools or technology. This is the need of the hour. Log in early, have your camera on when in a meeting, requesting and doing favours for work tasks are important ways to ensure that your work is getting done. Here are some thoughts on flexible work-life balance.
What Should Employees ask if a Company is Considering a Hybrid Work Model?
As your company gets ready to transition to a hybrid workforce model, what are some of your thoughts and challenges to discuss with your managers? Here a few top suggestions:
1. Clarity on Policies
As an employee, read through and be clear on hybrid office policies. You may want to set-up meetings with your manager to discuss their understanding of such hybrid workforce policies. This will clarify the manager's expectations on the working hygiene. Questions could typically be:
- My understanding of the policy is as follows…[state the policy or refer to it as you discuss]. What is your understanding on a ‘…[share the topic of discussion]…?
- How would you want me to express my non-availability in meetings? Or how would you want me to prioritize my meetings?
- How should we cover up on lost work due to work travel?
Ask your manager if he/she will be setting-up work hours or would you have a say in it? Working virtually entails communicating effectively for clarity as you are remote. Clarify and discuss your method of working. For example, if you are not at your desk as you fetch a cup of coffee at home, how would your manager expect to communicate this? Questions could typically be around any of the following:
- Would I be working from both home and office?
- What are your thoughts on how I set-up my work weeks?
- Are there specific days you would want me to be in office?
- Do I have a say on my work week and hours?
- How do we build in flexibility so that both of us can benefit mutually?
- Would I have the freedom to change my days and hours to meet office and personal needs?
- Do I get a dedicated workstation?
- Is there a dedicated office support person who can assist look if a leader is in office and set up meetings?
3. Being Equitable
Many times, workers get penalised as they are left out of informal catch-ups or unannounced meetings. At times, your work may not get visibility as you are not seen in the office or people believe you have an easy life. Questions to ask could be around:
- How do we ensure that I do not get penalised for remote working?
- Could we set up an expectations meeting between us and the team to ensure we understand each other and the new normal way of working?
- How do remote workers ensure office supplies are made available to us?
- How do we manage situations where I may need to work from a rental co-working space?
- How will you be ensuring that performance management is equitable as I work remotely?
- I would not want to miss out on work opportunities as I work remotely. What are your thoughts and plans around this?
- How would you ensure that we are communicating to manage information to remote workers and not get missed out?
Of course, the questions about hybrid workforce above are only suggestive and you could always customise them.
Hybrid workforce is here to stay. Getting ready for the new normal by accepting will make things easier. Clearer and crisper communication, direct questions, understanding each other’s expectations and more will make working in this new hybrid office effective for all.
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