Your experience with remote work during the pandemic likely illustrated how off-site employees can work successfully.
Here's what you need to know:
- 90% of businesses are implementing some form of hybrid work arrangements post-pandemic.
- Employees are looking for flexibility but within reason.
- Flexible work options are the newest employee must-have, and business leaders are working hard to meet demand.
In our connect-from-anywhere world, the workplace is shifting. Employees don’t have to be chained to a desk to get their work done. In fact, some are more productive when they have work location flexibility. The hybrid workplace may have been a consequence of the pandemic, but it shows no sign of going away.
Once employees realized they could get the job done without a commute (or dry-cleaning bill), workers across the world settled in. Now that many companies are asking staff to return to on-site employment, employees are holding their ground. The model worked for them and generally for the company. While workers may be willing to make the trek occasionally, many are saying they’re never going back to 9 to 5 on-site.
What caused the “great resignation?”
One of the factors of the ‘great resignation’ of 2021 (and continuing) was employers demanding workers return to on-site employment. As employees reaped the benefits of remote work, many began to rethink their relationship with work and their employers.
For some, the resignation created an opportunity for business: for others, it had a devastating effect they’re still trying to remedy. Enter the hybrid workday. This creative solution marries the needs and wants of businesses and workers.
Being on-site occasionally – either with a set schedule or as needed – is the new hybrid model. Staff members get face time with their teams and supervisors when necessary and reap the benefits of work-from-anywhere the remainder of the day or week.
How does hybrid work?
For some organizations, hybrid means a set schedule of days or hours during the day where employees are expected to be on-site. This can mean a standard workday several times a week, with work-from-home the rest of the time. Others have flex hours that let the employee get some tasks done from home during the day, checking into the office daily or on a set schedule.
Hybrid work varies from company to company, sometimes varying by employees within the company. One team may need to get together on a more regular basis in person, while others can connect online. Some independent workers only need to check in periodically, yet others thrive with a regular routine.
You may find your newest cohort wants more in-person time for training and to network. Senior and mid-range staffers may be fine with less time on-premises and more time on their own. The beauty of a hybrid work arrangement is its flexibility. It works on a ‘what works best’ basis, depending on the role and the employee.
Why hybrid works for business
According to McKinsey, 90% of businesses are implementing some form of hybrid work arrangements post-pandemic. They anticipate that for positions that aren’t essential to perform on-site, employees will be in the workplace between 21% and 80% of the time – or one to four days per week.
Why make the change? Almost 60% of the executives polled report improvements in individual productivity with a hybrid model: one-third say productivity has not changed. At almost 90% consistent or improved productivity, it’s easy to see why executives are willing to give employees what they want.
What employees want
Accenture’s Future of Work Study 2021 of more than 9,000 workers says hybrid is the way to work.
83% of workers say a hybrid model would be optimal.
While fully remote works for some staff members, Accenture found Gen Z employees, more than any other cohort, want face time on-site. These workers may have started their careers fully remotely or had their experience on-site cut short.
74% of Gen Z and younger millennials feel more productive working on-site.
Employees are looking for flexibility but within reason. Prudential found 87% of workers would like to work from home at least 1 day per week. Another study revealed 47% of workers are likely to look for another job if theirs doesn’t adopt a flexible working model.
Businesses looking to attract and retain workers, particularly in a tight job market, may have to take a closer look at hybrid to maintain headcount.
Your experience with remote work during the pandemic likely illustrated how off-site employees can work successfully. Staff members and their supervisors saw distributed employees managing workload effectively and safely. If you’re looking to get some or all staff members back into the building – even with a hybrid model – you may have to do some convincing.
Start with outlining why on-site time is necessary or preferred – even if it’s only part of the workweek. You can cite:
- Team meetings
- Brainstorming sessions
- Picking up/dropping off work
- All-important networking
Over the past two years, there have been situations where remote work situations created more problems than solutions. These instances should be the reason to bring employees back to the facility. However, if there are no good reasons to do so, consider remaining with a remote model. It’s probably saving you money on overhead while saving your employees stress.
If there are good reasons to get back to the office, your business model supports it, and workers are interested, the first step in adopting hybrid is setting parameters.
Depending on the work being performed:
- Determine who is eligible
- When they can work remotely
- When they need in-person-time in the facility
The nuts and bolts
Look to schedule meetings and planning sessions on a regular basis, so everyone knows when they have to be where. If physically getting together isn’t necessary, but employees need to check in to do some of their tasks on-site, consider letting them develop a schedule/routine that works for them.
Hybrid may pose a challenge for managers, who will need to keep track of who is where and when. Collaboration tools, like Zenefit’s People Hub, can help.
Connectivity and task management will be key to keeping current with staffers, so the hybrid option remains viable.
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Testing the waters
Flexible work options are the newest employee must-have, and business leaders are working hard to meet demand. But these programs have to meet needs as well. It’s always a good idea to start a new employee program as a pilot. Once you’ve considered all the angles and set parameters for who will work where and when, set a timeline for when you’ll review.
You might want to set a 90 day ‘probationary’ period. Ask employees and managers to make notes during the trial process of what:
- Didn’t work
- Can potentially work with adjustments
Analyze whether the hybrid plan worked as intended – were people able to maintain the scheduling they planned for? Evaluate whether productivity was impacted and if staffers and managers were able to collaborate effectively.
You’ll also want to consider potential downsides
How much time, if any, was spent trying to get together, as opposed to just getting together. If it took half the morning to get everyone online or in a room for an hour-long meeting, you’re working at cross purposes.
Consider, also, if remote workers are at a disadvantage:
- Are they in the loop consistently, or do they frequently miss out on information?
- Is the separation itself impactful? For some workers, remote work gives them the opportunity to focus uninterrupted. For others, it can be lonely and isolating.
- Networking and social opportunities can be lacking as well. Making connections at work is important for professional and personal reasons. A hybrid environment might make them more challenging to develop.
If the overall impact was positive, or there are tweaks that can be made, hybrid may be right for your company and some or all of your staff members.
The future of work is evolving. To attract and retain talent, your company may have to adapt to employee needs and wants, including implementing hybrid workweeks.