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What are the pros and cons of hybrid work?

Employees around the world have made it clear: they want more flexibility in how they work. In response to this, many companies are ditching the traditional 9-5 model for hybrid work. Companies are beginning to see competitors adopt this style of work and feeling increasing pressure to do the same. 

Still, many companies teeter between adopting hybrid work and returning to the pre-pandemic norm. As your company gears up to make a decision, it’s helpful to know how this style of work will impact the workplace. Just like anything else, there are pros and cons of hybrid work. In this post, you’ll discover how you can lean into the benefits of this style of work and prepare for the possible downsides.

The benefits of a hybrid work model 

When done right, hybrid work fosters an employee-centric workplace experience. That means that the on-site experience is tailored to suit their needs and is a delightful place for them to work. Let’s take a look at three ways hybrid work can benefit the workplace and your people.

Pro #1 – Better space efficiency 

In a hybrid work model, fewer people are on-site each day. With less crowding compared to workplaces under a traditional model of work, you can make more efficient use of your company’s physical space. 

Effective space management ensures that the workplace doesn’t feel too empty or crowded, and helps you continuously spot areas to improve. As a result, your company may need less office space, cutting down on overhead costs. 

One example of a change to your space you might make under a hybrid work model is removing the number of assigned desks. Instead of offering a bunch of unused permanently-assigned desks, you can offer hot desking options. Freeing up this space means you can add more of the space types your people need. These might be informal meeting areas, huddle spaces, or quiet zones. By providing spaces employees want, they’re more likely to come on-site to work.

Pro #2 – More engagement in the workplace 

When your people have more flexibility in where they work, they’re more likely to balance their workloads, participate fully in work activities, and find satisfaction in their work.

If you don’t, the opposite is true. Not only will engagement, participation, and morale lower, your employees may leave altogether. A report on employee engagement and retention suggests that as many as 52% of employees will look for new work opportunities in 2021. More engaged employees are not only more likely to stay, according to Gallup, they also tend to produce better outcomes.

Even with the option to work remotely, some employees may keep the same traditional work schedule. Simply having the choice to work on-site or elsewhere is empowering and may lead to more workplace engagement. 

Pro #3 – Improved company culture 

A top concern of executives considering a hybrid work model is whether it’ll spell the end of company culture. A fifth of executives think employees need to be in the workplace five days a week to keep company culture strong. In reality, giving employees more say in when they have to work on-site can help to improve culture. 

Hybrid work lets employees switch between different environments according to their needs and objectives. As a result, when they go into the workplace, they’ll feel more purpose-driven about doing so. For example, an employee may work on individual tasks at home that don’t require face-time with teammates. Then, they can come on-site for collaborative projects and build relationships with their co-workers. 

The drawbacks of hybrid work 

Like all work models, there are both advantages and disadvantages to hybrid work. Still, there are ways your team can tackle these drawbacks and keep your workplace running smoothly.

Con #1 – Remote employees can be at a disadvantage 

In a hybrid work model, remote employees may find it harder to communicate with people on-site. Spontaneous conversations, immediate responses, and face-to-face interactions all help build workplace relationships and culture.

Luckily, there’s a way to ensure that being remote doesn’t result in social isolation and poor communication. By making the right investments, you can bring remote employees into the fold on a regular basis and ensure they remain connected to their on-site peers. Here are a few to consider: 

  • Technology – Ensure you have high-quality video and audio equipment in the workplace and at remote work locations.  
  • Communication tools – Provide employees tools like Zoom, Slack, and Asana. They’ll ensure people can keep connected and collaborate with their colleagues no matter where they’re located. 
  • High-speed internet – Invest in networking solutions that keep work moving. Fast and reliable internet connection, both in the workplace and remote work environments, is an investment in employee efficiency and productivity.

Con #2 – The workplace may feel dull 

While employees may enjoy flexibility, people on-site may feel a certain dullness if there aren’t a lot of people there. A bustling workplace can be energizing, but if half of your people are working off-site on any given day then it may feel lifeless instead. This could result in on-site employees feeling unmotivated and unproductive. 

It’s important to create a workplace where people want to work. Companies can take workplace tips from the hospitality industry to do that. For example, welcoming your employees with an inviting lobby or entrance can get them excited about their workday. You can also create moments of delight by providing snack and drink carts throughout the workplace. These spaces can help to bring people together and spark interactions between employees that may not work together on the day-to-day. 

Con #3 – People may struggle to know who’s on-site and when

With more flexibility comes the need to define employee schedules across your organization. If you don’t, you may run into resourcing issues if too many people come in at once. People may also have a hard time knowing when their teammates will be on-site. This could lead to miscommunication and frustration among your employees.

The good news is that you can adopt employee schedules to suit your company’s needs. With the right schedule, your employees will feel empowered to come on-site to meet with their teammates, collaborate, and build relationships. They’ll be able to have the structure of a traditional work model while benefiting from the flexibility of hybrid work. To ensure you adopt the scheduling model that works best for your organization, you should work with your employees and managers to align on scheduling policies and procedures. 

Like any other work model, there are pros and cons to hybrid work. Switching to this more flexible work model requires time and effort to work well. Without proper planning and resources, you could end up with a dull on-site environment and a disconnected workforce. 

What’s your organization doing to get ready to take on a hybrid work model? By using this post as a guide, you can take on hybrid work challenges before they happen. Investing in hybrid work now will ensure you have the model down by the time your competitors catch up. 

Want to learn more about how to help your employees thrive in a hybrid work model? Download our ebook, How to identify and solve hybrid work challenges.