What started as the “biggest work from home experiment” now seems like an experiment that won’t end anytime soon. Most countries are now bracing themselves for the third wave of coronavirus, spiking possibilities for new lockdowns and even closures of entire cities.
People have been working from home for more than six months now, proving that jobs in the digital world can be performed regardless of location, and seeing the possibilities of potentially working remotely for the rest of their careers.
Now, we won’t get into pros and cons of working remotely, we all know them - we’ve been living them for the past six months. What we will get into however, is whether the future of our work is really remote or hybrid?
What Is a Hybrid Working Model?
A hybrid working model implies that employees spend some time working in the office, and some time working from home. It gives teams the best of both worlds - independence and flexibility, and structure and sociability.
New project kick-offs, onboarding and training of new hires are just easier when done in person. Fully remote companies have shown us that this can be done through video conferencing, but most companies never experienced working from home pre-pandemic, which is why they keep turning to the hybrid working model.
The conversation about this type of work was sparked by Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, who recently announced that Google is making changes to their offices to accommodate this new type of working.
They were one of the first companies to announce that their employees will be working from home until July 2021. According to Pachai, the decision was made on multiple factors, including the fact that in the uncertain times people were having a hard time to focus and plan, which was affecting their productivity. By telling everyone that they’ll be working from home for the next year, it was easier for employees to accept the fact that remote work is here to stay for now.
Remote work gives a lot more flexibility to the employees. However, there are certain situations in which it is better to have the whole team in the same room. Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, said that he doesn’t see any benefits in his team working remotely, and that it has affected collaboration in a negative way. Their company certainly isn’t the only one feeling this.
We were talking to our clients who were able to go back into the office, and some of them definitely agreed that it’s much easier to work from the same place - collaboration and team coordination were much easier when working from the office.
We’ve also turned to the hybrid model at some point, following all the regulations and requirements of our local government when it comes to social distancing and other measures. Some people spend all of their time working from home, while others visit the office from time to time. We found that it’s a good way to improve collaboration, and employees get to choose where they work from.
Making Hybrid Working Model Work
Keep in mind that your employees come from different backgrounds, their home situations vary, and they might not be able to work from home on an occasional basis. People living with families, in smaller flats, don’t have a dedicated office space, which means they’ll be losing focus, missing deadlines and making mistakes along the way. If they’re not able to go into the office, you should consider giving them allowance for a coworking space. Fully remote companies usually do this, and it has shown as a good practice when employees need a peaceful place to work from.
Try to make employees who work from home as equal to those who are working in the office. If you’re having a meeting and one person is joining via video conferencing, you should all do it, otherwise home workers might feel excluded.
As a leader, you should also make sure that you’re getting equal facetime with everyone on your team, regardless of where they usually work from.
Clear communication, transparency and extensive procedures are the best way to keep everyone on the same page, at all times. Asynchronous communication is closely related to remote work, so the procedures are essential, since nobody has to rely on one person being online in order to finish what they started.
Which Type of Work Is Better for Your Team?
There are pros and cons to every outcome, and we recommend that you take it to the team. Google didn’t just decide that it will implement a hybrid type, they surveyed their employees. The survey showed that 62% of employees feel like they need to be in the office some days to do their work well, while only 20% felt like they don’t need to come to the office at all.
A survey in May showed that 55% of US employees would like to spend their working time between home and office, while in the UK it’s expected that around 37% of employees will be working remotely even after the pandemic is over (the number was 18% before the coronavirus). An employment expert in China predicts that Chinese workers will be spending 60% of their time working from home, and 40% working from the office in ten years’ time.
Listen to your team, organize a survey, analyze the results, but also pay attention to your business goals and how they were affected by the change. Use this knowledge to create a working model that will serve you, your employees and your business in the best way possible.