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What is hybrid work and why do employees want it?

In this post, we’ll explore the value of hybrid work and the steps you can take to ensure your employees transition to a hybrid workplace smoothly.

Tiffany Fowell
By Tiffany Fowell Content Marketer

Hybrid work is a big departure from the traditional work model. But what exactly is hybrid work? 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 is a flexible approach that allows employees to split their time between working in the office and working from home. Hybrid work varies in flexibility

Here are some different types of hybrid work policies companies are using: 

  • Hybrid at-will: Employees can choose which day(s) to come into the office
  • Hybrid split-week: The company assigns specific days for on-site and remote work by team or function
  • Hybrid manager-scheduling: Managers choose which day(s) their team comes into the office
  • Hybrid mix: A combo of all three options
Popular hybrid work policies

The number one purpose of a hybrid workplace is to give employees flexibility in how and where they work and offer a better work-life balance. Employees should feel able to alternate between home and the office seamlessly in a hybrid work model—without a dip in productivity.

The value of hybrid work

We know employees see the value in hybrid work. A survey conducted with Wakefield Research shows that almost half of employees (47%) would likely look for another job if their employer doesn’t offer a flexible working model

So it’s no surprise that data from our most recent April 2022 survey showed that 77% of companies have already opted to go hybrid. What’s more, 56% of those companies are allowing employees to choose when and how often they wish to come into the office.

So what attracts employees to a hybrid work model? Let’s look at some of the perks of hybrid work for employees and their companies.

Office attendance policies

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 and where they’re most productive. This means flexible schedules and locations. 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

In our recent January 2022 survey, the majority of employees (63%) say flexibility would make them feel more empowered. According to Slack, it’s a key reason why 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. According to our very own Head of Sales, Justin Bullock, hybrid work gave him the flexibility to attend his 10 year-old’s birthday party. “As a parent, hybrid work helps me integrate these kinds of activities into my routine. That means more time for the things that matter most, which makes me happier and more refreshed to do work.”

Hire talent across the globe

Looking to broaden your talent pool? 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.

Reduce exposure to illness 

The last two years have made some people nervous to embrace busy spaces again. In fact, 87% of employees said last year they’re worried about their health and safety when it comes to returning to work

Hybrid working means fewer people in the workplace at one time. This lowers the chance of a sick employee infecting others. And since people have the option to work remotely under most hybrid work models, a sick employee can stay home altogether to protect their coworkers. 

Companies are now enforcing measures for their employees’ safety as workplaces open up. This might be requirements such as health screenings or proof of vaccination for employees and visitors coming into the workplace.

Save on real estate expenses

In a hybrid work from home setup, fewer people are on-site at any given time. For some companies, this may mean downsizing on their real estate. In the very least, hybrid working will help you figure out how much office space you need to support your employees. 

Rethinking your workplace strategy can help you lower real estate costs by 30%. This allows you to reinvest those cost savings elsewhere, like providing more work options for employees in the form of satellite offices and smaller co-working spaces.

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 gets folks ready to embrace change and keeps them motivated to do their best work. 

Surveys are the best method to 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.

  • Would you choose to work on-site to mainly focus on your own or collaborate with your team?
  • 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?

When you find out what your people want out of hybrid work, you can begin to tailor your hybrid work model accordingly. For example, if people wish to come into the office for meeting-heavy days, you can ensure your meeting room management is set up to provide that seamlessly.

Build the infrastructure that supports flexibility

At its best, hybrid work will bridge the remote and on-site environments so employees can work together with ease. Investing in technology in the workplace, such as remote communication tools and on-site video conferencing equipment, will help enable this. 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 with flexibility. There are a number of ways to approach this. For example, your hybrid work model may consist of a hybrid at-will policy where employees choose which day(s) they come into the office. Or, you might choose a hybrid manager-scheduling policy where managers control schedules and select which day(s) their folks come into the office.

Invest in company culture

Company culture is the heart of your company. And the success of your hybrid work model depends on it. Be intentional about reinforcing your company culture as people come back into the office. 

In our latest At Work survey, we learned that 88% of companies are using incentives to get their folks back on-site. Think food and beverage programs, happy hours, and company-wide events. Investing in opportunities that delight your employees, like revamping the office environment, will help ignite company culture and encourage people to choose to work from the office.

It’s also important to create experiences for the hybrid workplace around your company’s core values. For example, if your organization values teamwork, you might arrange an in-person or 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

Workplace experience is the number one ingredient to your hybrid work model actually working. It’s important not to let it slip. While your employees may not come on-site every single day, it’s important to ensure that every day in the workplace is purposeful and intentional. The more people on-site, the better the experience is for those who are there to meet and collaborate in-person.

A successful hybrid workplace depends on employees having a great experience in the office. If you need some tips on how to create a workplace people want to visit, check out our blog post 5 actions to take to create a better workplace experience.

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. 

Personas help you remain agile as things change. They’ll guide you as you create new employee experiences and manage your space to suit your employees’ evolving needs. Learn more about why they’re important in this post.

Gather continuous feedback

As you continue to build a hybrid workplace 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 works for everyone. Check out our blog post for more ideas on how to get real, unfiltered employee feedback.

The hybrid model is no longer an alternative style of work. It’s here to stay. But, like any work model, there are benefits and disadvantages. Companies today must meet the needs of their workforce or risk losing talent to employers that do.

As workplace leaders, use this guide to adopt hybrid working into your organization. Remember, offering your people flexibility will result in greater productivity and results for your business. Want to know more about hybrid work? Check out Envoy’s hybrid work resource center.

 

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Tiffany Fowell
Author Bio Tiffany Fowell

Tiffany is a content crafter and writer at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people love. Outside of work, her passions include spending time with her greyhound, advocating for the Oxford comma, and enjoying really great tea.