Employees around the world have made one thing clear: they want flexibility in how and where they work. And companies are listening. In a recent survey of 800 workplace leaders, 77% stated that their company has adopted a hybrid working model.
But not everyone is convinced that hybrid is the way to go. The work policies you set up for your team can impact your business and the productivity and well-being of your employees. With so many different types of working models, it can be hard to pick a style that suits your team’s needs.
If you’re weighing this decision for your company, it’s best to be prepared. Let’s walk through a few benefits of hybrid work, as well as a few disadvantages.
4 benefits of hybrid work
A hybrid work model encourages both on-site and remote work for employees. When done right, hybrid work is a win-win. It can create a culture that supports both your people and your company. Here are 4 benefits of a hybrid work model.
1. Happy and engaged employees
Most people make decisions for themselves based on what will make them most comfortable, efficient, and happy. So the choice of whether to work at home or on-site is empowering for a lot of employees.
The hybrid model gives employees the flexibility and freedom to choose what days they’re coming into the office and what days they’re working from home. More flexibility leads to a balanced workload, participation in team activities, and higher work-life satisfaction.
Engaged employees produce better business outcomes and can even lead to a 23% increase in profitability. Plus, engaged and happy employees tend to stick around their workplaces more. By offering your employees the flexibility to create their own schedules, you can increase retention and drive better business outcomes.
2. Improved company culture
A major concern of executives is whether a hybrid model will harm the on-site company culture they’ve spent years building. A fifth of execs thinks employees need to be in the workplace every day in order to maintain a strong company culture. But this is far from the truth.
Giving employees control of their own schedules is actually motivating. Since employees can switch between remote and on-site work, they’re more likely to come to the office engaged and ready to contribute to the company’s mission and culture.
For example, employees can work from home to get individual and head-down types of tasks completed. They can come into the office for big team meetings, relationship building, or company-wide events. The time they choose to spend in the physical workplace can have a positive effect on company culture.
3. More efficient workplaces
A hybrid work plan means that there are fewer people on-site on any given day. Since your office will almost never be at capacity, it will be less crowded and you’ll have more opportunity to create an efficient space for those who are on-site.
For example, you don’t have to clutter your workplace with a bunch of assigned desks that will likely sit empty. Instead, you can offer hot desking options, allowing those coming into the office that day to have a designated spot to work. What should you do with all that extra space? Add more intentional working zones, like comfortable couches, phone booths for 1-1 meetings, or quiet spaces.
With effective space management, you can ensure the workplace doesn’t feel too crowded or too empty. On-site employees will know where to go for structured focus time or casual coffee chats, making the workplace a more purposeful and efficient space.
4. Lower operational costs
Having a hybrid work model reduces your costs. You won’t need as many desks, computers, printers, or other office supplies—you might even see a decrease in utility bills.
Companies can also save thousands of dollars on real estate expenses by downsizing for a hybrid model, especially in expensive metro areas. In fact, 56% of workplace leaders anticipate saving on costs due to reducing their physical workplace footprint.
Hybrid work is better for your employees’ bank accounts too. They’ll be spending less on daily commutes or Starbucks drinks.
4 disadvantages of hybrid work
With any model, there are drawbacks to consider as well. No working model is perfect, but you can address many of the disadvantages of hybrid work with a few strategic fixes.
1. Harder to collaborate with remote employees
There isn’t a perfect virtual substitute for spontaneous water cooler chat or bump-ins around the office. Remote employees might find it harder to communicate with those on-site and vice versa.
You may not be able to control your remote team’s WiFi strength or how loud their neighbor’s lawn mower is, but there are a few steps you can take to make sure your remote employees are in sync with the on-site crew. Here are a few:
- Technology: Your workplace technology needs to support work across all settings. Ensure you’ve provided high-quality video and audio equipment for your on-site and remote employees.
- Communication tools: Provide employees with chatting tools like Zoom, Slack, and Asana. They’ll ensure that people can keep connected and collaborate with each other no matter where they’re located.
- Inclusive policies and practices: Set up meeting best practices and guidelines that focus on inclusivity. For example, encourage on-site leaders to pause during Zoom calls and ask remote participants if they have questions or something to add.
2. Faster employee burnout
If left unchecked, the culture of burnout can creep its way into the workplace, even in a hybrid model. Your remote team might work longer hours and take fewer breaks than the on-site folks. They might even feel more guilty for taking personal time off in the afternoon and overcompensate by working later.
On the flip side, your on-site employees might have to deal with long commutes, adjusting their personal routines, or family emergencies that make it harder to get into the office. That’s why it’s so important to create easy and flexible work schedules that empower employees to find a schedule that works for them whether at home or in the office.
If you create a culture where employees can speak up or take breaks when they’re feeling overwhelmed, it will help fight remote burnout. Also, if you create an office that is productive, efficient, and delightful, it will help reduce the on-site burnout.
3. Difficulty keeping up with hybrid schedules
With more flexibility comes more variation in your team’s schedules. If there isn’t an easy-to-use and consistent way to keep up employee’s schedules, you might run into resourcing issues. Plus, it can be tough for employees coming on-site to know which of their teammates will be there.
To avoid any frustration or confusion, it’s important to create policies and guidelines around employee schedules. There are a ton of different work plans that can function in a hybrid model such as cohort schedules or staggered schedules. With a clear schedule in place and consistent communication, your employees will feel empowered to come on-site to meet with their teammates, collaborate, and build relationships.
You don’t have to go it alone! Look for hybrid work software that enables them to coordinate their days on-site, invite co-workers to join them, and book a nearby desk.
4. Not suitable for all industries
Hybrid work models might not work for every industry. Some organizations need a full remote or a full on-site environment to function, like nursing or teaching.
According to our 2022 Workplace Trends Report, the materials, utilities, and telecom services industries had the least amount of on-site traffic growth since January 2021. We also noticed that companies with fewer than 50 employees had a smaller increase in foot traffic whereas larger companies with over 250 employees were some of the earliest adopters of hybrid work. No matter your industry and size, the key is creating a work plan that suits the needs of your employees.
Does your organization have a hybrid work policy in place? By using this post as a guide, you can take on hybrid work challenges before they happen.