The changes over the past few years have been nothing short of monumental. Nowhere is that more apparent than how – and more specifically where – we work.
As recently as 2019, fewer than 8% of businesses were fully remote. From one week to the next that number spiked, leading the vast majority of “non-essential” staff to office from home indefinitely. Now, as stricter safety restrictions relax, many companies are calling for The Great Return, at least part of the time.
Hybrid models that give employees some choice of when they work remotely or in-office are the overwhelmingly popular choice (among businesses and employees alike). According to a McKinsey survey, around 90% of organizations intend to combine remote and on-site working as part of their long-term plans.
Based on what we know so far, here’s how to maximize the upside of this new normal, while minimizing the possible downsides of hybrid work.
Over the past three years, many teams have set up their at-home offices and demonstrated they can be trusted to work remotely. In return, organizations have experienced positives like:
For the immunocompromised, working in close proximity to others has been cause for anxiety long before a global pandemic broke out. With more flexibility for folks to work from home, particularly for those who may be feeling unwell, it provides a better sense of overall safety. Hybrid work also gives employees an opportunity to prioritize their fitness goals, with 75% of respondents sharing that “they move more frequently and have a more active work style when working remotely.”
The ability to better balance work-life obligations has freed up employees to get more done in a day. 90% report sustained or increased productivity compared to when they worked exclusively in-office. Reducing long commutes alone has given them more hours in the day to deliver.
Attracting talent in the era of The Great Resignation often hinges on having a flexible work environment. A majority of HR professionals said they believe that hybrid work is an effective recruiting tool, as well as a positive influence on retention and employee satisfaction, according to HR Drive.
The more generally satisfied an employee is, the less likely they are to look for greener pastures – that part’s not new. But for a significant portion of the population, the option to work remotely is, and it’s made all the difference. It’s such a popular request that 84% of employees expressed they’d even willing to take a pay cut to have the option.
Smaller office spaces, reduced demand for supplies, and fewer water cooler or coffee maker refills are just a few of the ways businesses have decreased their expenses. 77% of employees agree, saying that working remotely helps their company lower operating costs.
Productivity alone does not a satisfied team member make. Remote staff may find themselves wanting some of the more fundamental and rewarding aspects of in-person work – mainly close working relationships and a sense of belonging.
Some of the other flaws described in one Workplace study include:
1. Mismatched hybrid work expectations.
2. Difficulties maintaining close professional relationships.
3. Challenges coming up with new ways to engage hybrid teams.
4. Hurdles with learning exchanges between new recruits and more experienced staff.
5. Negative impacts on culture, belonging, and company success.
On paper, hybrid work promises to give companies and employees the best of both in-office and at-home setups. The autonomy and sociability options are no doubt huge perks, so long employers also watch out for and address its potential shortfalls, too.