Hybrid workplace models are becoming the norm across the United States in the wake of Covid-19. This necessary measure at the peak of the pandemic looks like it’s here to stay, although what that means exactly has yet to be decided. But, many companies are adopting permanent hybrid models after seeing them succeed during the pandemic. Employees overwhelmingly support the hybrid work model and the flexibility it offers.
So, what’s the best way to maintain the human connection that is lost for a hybrid workforce? Which hybrid office model is best for your team? Let’s explore some of these questions in more detail.
Hybrid Office Defined
First, let’s define what we mean by “hybrid office.” Any variation of the standard work model (100% on site, 40 hours a week) can be considered a hybrid model. A hybrid office is one where some or all employees come in less than 5 days a week, spending 1 or more days working remotely. A successful hybrid workplace is one that does not lead to a decrease in productivity despite the change in work styles, while also maintaining connection and company culture despite fewer in-person interactions.
Hybrid Office Example
The hybrid work model takes many different forms depending on the constraints and needs of a business. Some employees’ physical presence may be more essential to work projects than others, so the model can vary from role to role within a hybrid team. This hybrid workplace model may have some employees work remotely full-time, and others on-site full-time.
Another hybrid office example is one wherein all employees split time, working remotely for part of the week and on-site for part of the week. Another way to organize a hybrid workplace is a week-by-week model, where employees alternate attendance at the office weekly. Some businesses have adopted an “at-will” model, where employees only go into the office on their terms. Different hybrid office examples serve different needs. That said, there are some guiding principles that can ensure a productive and happy hybrid workforce. Let’s consider those principles below.
How To Maintain Connection In A Hybrid Model
Lack of connection is a major concern when switching to a hybrid model. There are several measures that can ensure the hybrid workforce is as effective or even more effective than a 100% on-site model. Communication with employees is key. By learning how they best see themselves working in a hybrid team, the company can adapt to their needs. This creates the potential to balance productivity with promoting employee well-being. Surveys are a great way to gauge employee opinions and hear anonymous testimonies of people’s preferred work settings.
Making sure technology is user-friendly and efficient is also key. Bad connections or glitchy online services will inhibit connection and create frustration for everyone involved. Researching the best software and technological services for communicating with a hybrid team is crucial to maintaining connection in a hybrid work model.
Some may worry that company culture will be lost in a hybrid model. This is not (necessarily) the case! While it might be easier to instill company values through in-person work – observing interactions and conversing with others – there are remote channels that can establish company culture. Encouraging virtual coffee dates (or in-person, if possible) between employees is a method to facilitate team bonding. There are many virtual team-building activities that can serve the same purpose. Choosing an avenue for non-work related socialization that works for your company is a great way to maintain connectivity in a hybrid work model.
Benefits of a Hybrid Workforce
Having a hybrid workforce has benefits for both employees and companies. For starters, employees can eliminate commutes, saving time and transportation costs. Especially for longer commutes, this work flexibility facilitates a healthier work-life balance; people can spend more time with family, friends, pets, etc.
On the topic of health, another benefit is reduced exposure to illness. Working in a hybrid team allows employees to communicate without spreading germs. Another benefit which helps both employees and companies is increased productivity. With more freedom to work where and when people please, employee productivity usually increases. This is seen in companies across industries, and the evidence is growing as more businesses adopt a hybrid work model.
In addition to increased productivity helping companies thrive, the hybrid work model poses two other major benefits to businesses: widening the hiring pool and saving on office space expenses. By hiring workers for remote positions, employers are not limited to hiring someone who lives within proximity to an office location; any qualified candidate with a Wi-Fi connection is now eligible for many positions. In the same vein, the hybrid work model allows companies to downsize or even sell physical office locations, lowering real estate expenses.
The introduction of hybrid models offers a rare opportunity to set the tone for company culture. By taking measures to ensure workers are satisfied with their work model, and establishing proper channels to maintain connection, company leaders can see productivity and connectivity thrive. The hybrid model is the new frontier. How will you respond to the new hybrid workplace paradigm?
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