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The Hybrid Work Model – Benefits and its challenges to overcome

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The Hybrid Work Model – Benefits and its challenges to overcome

In 2020, COVID first hit the health of people, then the economy and deeply impacted the mindset of the people and the organizations. For organizations who thought employees will not produce the same result if they work from home, things changed! There was no option, but to adapt and accommodate the new style of working i.e The Hybrid Work Model, to keep the business going. Offices closed, many lost their jobs and others rapidly adjusted to working from home.

Around the end of 2021, offices started reopening but organisations faced a big challenge. The necessity “to work from home” had now become a “habit”.  People who started working remotely due to COVID-19, now want to continue. Companies can no longer say that they can’t operate remotely and with an ongoing global pandemic, they also can’t ask employees to come back to the office full-time. This led to the emergence of a “Hybrid Work Culture”.

According to the study by Accenture “The Future of Work”, 83% of their employees, i.e. over 9000 plus employees reported that they prefer a hybrid work model.

What is the Hybrid work model?

There are different approaches to a hybrid work schedule.  It’s the flexibility given to the employees to work remotely for some days and work from the office for some days. Some employees have limited flexibility to work on-site and remotely part of the week. Some companies might have employees working either full-time remote or full-time on-site. Based on the job role and business requirements, this offers flexibility.

Benefits of Hybrid work model

Companies, as well as employees, clearly see value in hybrid work. But what attracts them the most to a hybrid work model? Let us look at some benefits of a hybrid work model.

1.    Work-life balance

The top reason why people prefer working remotely is work-life balance. With hybrid work, employees get to enjoy both worlds, including the ease of some days at home and meetings with team and managers in the office. They have the autonomy to structure their workday. So that they are more productive, they do their tasks efficiently and make time for activities outside work. In the end, meeting your deadlines at work while still having time for friends and hobbies, having enough time to sleep properly and eat well, not worrying about work when you are at home is all that everyone wants.

2.    Lower cost of operation

Providing good office space, lighting, internet and intranet, and aids to keep the employee comfortable at the office, involves cost. With fewer people working, they use fewer resources. This results in operational costs dropping up to 50%. Apart from this, the company providing transportation to employees has also dropped. Some employers even give refreshments or clothing allowances as a benefit.

3.    More inclusive workforce

Hybrid work options can help organizations be more inclusive of job candidates and employees with disabilities. Employers are no longer limited to hiring local talent. It means they have a far greater chance of finding someone with the exact skills, experience, and personality to fit best within their organization. This provides a greater opportunity to find staff with specialized skills, therefore saving on training. Hybrid working doesn’t just apply to staff that works from home but also includes freelancers, contract workers, frontline officers, international employees, etc.

4.    Reduce exposure to illness

Although double vaccinations are done, vaccination just reduces the severity of illness and does not protect anyone completely. The majority of the people are worried about their health and safety when it comes to coming back to work. With fewer people working the risk of sick people infecting others is also reduced. And since people have the option to work remotely under most hybrid work models, a sick employee can stay home altogether. Many organizations are making compulsory vaccination certificates and submitting them before coming to the workplace. Also, we should do temperature checks and sanitizations regularly.

Challenges of Hybrid work

1. Scheduling challenges

Managers may struggle to balance the schedule of their direct reports, including determining when the team will be in the office. This includes knowing which employees come on which days, how to maintain performance checks while employees are physically in the office as well as outside the office, and how to best communicate to all the team members. This increases the manager’s responsibilities. Communication, encouraging the team, setting clear expectations, and managing the time zone differences are challenging.

2.    Logistical and infrastructural challenges

Some people work online and some from the office, hosting meetings at the office are the challenging ones. This can cause issues for your team without prior planning. To manage workforce traffic and employee flexibility, companies will have to look at new ways to approach this.

3.    Company cultural complications

With the mix of employees working in the office and outside it’s more complicated to build and maintain company culture. The cultural building is even more important in a hybrid environment as it’s not like standing by someone’s desk or sipping a coffee in the pantry and discussing.

Some tips to make this transition easier

The ongoing resignations have proven that employees aren’t afraid to walk away in search of something better. This is why companies that listen, adapt and change will be the ones to succeed and build the foundation for a new hybrid workplace. Some tips that will make this transition easier

1.    As hybrid work will bridge the remote and on-site environments so employees can work together with ease companies will have to invest more in technologies that enable employees to communicate properly like providing employees proper aids like on-site video conferencing equipment, apps to communicate internally.

2.    Create proper work schedules for employees. So that they also have the flexibility and manage the workforce traffic at the same time. Managers can decide schedules for their employees. Coordination with other managers can be done so that alternatively their teams can work on-site.

3.    Organizations should invest more in opportunities that will encourage employees to be a part of the organization and is an onboarding experience for the employee like online team activities, role plays, gamifying experience as since everyone will not be coming every day it’s important to ensure they don’t lose interest in going in some of the time.

4.    Make sure that there is equality between onsite and remote working employees. When employees are scattered it’s easy to talk to employees face to face and find solutions rather than contacting the remote employees. This may lead to employees working remotely losing interest in work. Managers should consider all the employees for projects and promotions. And also, keep track of all employees to ensure no one is left behind.

Leadership should not just focus on location but on whether the employees have available resources to be productive and healthy.

This article is just the highlight of the issues and some solutions to overcome the challenges of the new era situation. I hope this is helpful.

Author – Smruti Kulkarni, HR Consultant, Shail Digital.