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Hybrid work: what is hybrid work and why do employees want it?

In this post, we’ll explore what it means to have a hybrid work model and the steps your workplace team can take to transition smoothly to one.

Hybrid work is a drastic departure from the traditional work model. In this post, we’ll explore what a hybrid work model is and how you can transition to one smoothly.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is hybrid work?
  • The value of hybrid work
  • How to adopt a hybrid work model

What is hybrid work?

Hybrid work has many variations. Some companies might allow every employee the flexibility to work on-site and remotely part of the week. Other companies might have employees working either full-time remote or full-time on-site. And others might allow a combo of the two.

Hybrid work model options

The value of hybrid work

A recent survey we conducted with Wakefield Research shows that almost half of employees (47%) would likely look for a job if their employer doesn’t adopt a flexible working model. So employees clearly see value in hybrid work. But what attracts them to a hybrid work model? Let’s look at some of the perks of hybrid work for employees and their companies.

Likeliness to search for another job if their employer doesn’t offer hybrid work

Work when and how you’re most productive 

In an office-first model, people are expected to be on the clock between 9 am and 5 pm every workday. In a hybrid work model, employees have more flexibility to get work done when they’re most productive. For example, some people work best early in the morning while others do better in the evening. They can also choose to work with teammates on-site or do heads-down work from a remote location.

Better work-life balance

A recent study by Slack found that flexibility is a key reason employees are attracted to the hybrid work model. Finding balance is easier in a flexible work arrangement. When employees have more control of their work schedules, they can free up time to take care of the things that crop up in their personal lives—whether it’s running an errand, picking up kids from daycare, or being home for a delivery.

Reduce exposure to illness

In our survey, a majority (66%) of employees say they’re worried about their health and safety when it comes to returning to work. Fewer people in the workplace lowers the chance of a sick employee infecting others. Companies can also require health screenings or proof of vaccination for employees coming into the workplace. And since people have the option to work remotely under most hybrid work models, a sick employee can stay home altogether. 

Save on real estate expenses 

In a hybrid work setup, fewer people are on-site at any given time. For some companies, this may mean they don’t need to hold on to all of their costly real estate investments. In the very least, it’ll help you figure out how much office space you need. By rethinking your workplace strategy, you can lower real estate costs by 30 percent. Your company might reinvest cost savings to provide work options for employees, like satellite offices and smaller co-working spaces. 

Hire talent across the globe 

In a hybrid work model, your company can hire talent from all around the globe. Having access to a wider talent pool means you can hire people with specialized skills. This can give your organization a competitive edge, help you move into new markets, and ensure around-the-clock productivity.

How to adopt a hybrid work model

To adopt a hybrid work model, you need the right people, processes, and technology. Let’s take a look at a few things you should consider when moving to a hybrid work model.

Survey your employees to find out what they need

To build a hybrid model that works for your company, speak with your workforce to learn their needs. By involving employees, you can create a work model that keeps your people motivated to do their best work. 

To do this, send out a survey to help gauge employee sentiment around hybrid work. Be sure to ask questions about the working setup they’d thrive most in and include examples. Here are some questions to include:

  • Have you moved away from your assigned work location in the past year?
  • How many days per week do you anticipate wanting to work on-site?
  • If you had access to an office space closer to home, would you prefer to use that instead of commuting to the office?

Once you analyze the results of the survey, you’ll understand the demand for hybrid work at your organization. You should also see what flexible working arrangements appeal most to employees and begin to tailor your work model accordingly.

Develop employee personas

Employee surveys are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of how your hybrid workforce feels in real-time. But you won’t always have time to survey your people. To keep your team moving fast, develop a set of employee personas. Personas are a set of semi-fictional characters that represent your employees—their needs, behaviors, and preferences. We won’t spend too much time talking about how to build personas since we have a toolkit (linked above) that’ll walk you through how to create them.

Personas help you remain agile as things change—and they no doubt will. They’ll guide you as you create new experiences and manage your space to suit your employees’ evolving needs. Learn more about why they’re important in this post.

Build the infrastructure that’ll support flexible work

At its best, hybrid work will bridge the remote and on-site environments so employees can work together with ease. You’ll need to invest in technologies that enable this, such as communication tools and on-site video conferencing equipment. Decide whether you need new tools or if you can leverage existing ones in new ways.

Establish company-wide communication best practices and encourage team leads to set clear expectations with their employees. For example, you may adopt an asynchronous style of communication to accommodate employees working in different time zones. 

Create office schedules to manage workplace traffic and provide employees flexibility. There are a number of ways to approach this. For example, you may decide employees will work on-site on certain days or weeks. Or, you could allow custom scheduling where managers set their team’s schedules.

Invest in company culture

Be intentional about reinforcing your company culture. This is even more important in a hybrid work model, where it’s not always possible to swing by someone’s desk or have a water cooler chat. Invest in opportunities that delight your employees, like gamifying part of your company’s onboarding experience.

Consider how you can create experiences for the hybrid work landscape around your company’s core values. For example, if your organization values teamwork, you might arrange a virtual team-building activity. At Envoy, we use the Donut Slack integration to encourage employees to meet people on other teams for a virtual coffee chat or peer learning exchange. 

Create a great workplace experience

Don’t let the workplace experience slip. While your employees may not come on-site every single day, it’s important to ensure they don’t lose interest in going in some of the time. If they do, it could lead to more no-shows and a duller on-site experience for those who do show up. This would be a waste of on-site resources and investments—not to mention it goes against the spirit of a hybrid work model.

Need some tips on how to create a workplace people want to go to? Check out this blog post by the Head of Workplace Transformation at VergeSense.

Gather continuous feedback

As you work toward building a hybrid work environment that’s ideal for your company, remember to gather employee feedback. Be sure to provide more than one way for employees to share their thoughts. For example, you might have an “always-on” Slack channel dedicated to employee feedback. In addition to that, you might send out quarterly feedback surveys to your workforce. 

Collecting this feedback will help you iterate as you go and build a hybrid workplace that thrives. Check out our blog post for more ideas on how to get real, unfiltered employee feedback

The hybrid model used to be seen as an alternative style of work. But as more employees demand flexibility, it’ll become even more common. Companies must meet the needs of their workforce or risk losing talent to employers that do.

Take a look at which employee demographics are most likely to hit the job boards—and learn what you can do as a workplace leader to keep your people. It’s all here in our ebook: Employees have a vision for the future of work and it’s hybrid.

 

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Tiffany Fowell
Author Bio Tiffany Fowell