In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of hybrid work has gained significant momentum. As organizations transition back to pre-pandemic norms, understanding the importance of the hybrid workforce model is crucial. Recent studies indicate that 55% of employees now prefer working remotely for at least three days weekly, while 74% of U.S. companies are either already adopting or planning to integrate a permanent hybrid work setup. Our guide provides valuable insights into the hybrid work model’s significance, helping you make informed decisions about its suitability for your organization.
What is a Hybrid Work from Home Model?
It’s important to understand just what the term hybrid work means before deciding if it’s the right choice for you and your business.
Definition: A hybrid work model means that employees work from the home office for part of the week and physically come into the office for the rest of the week. This work model generally allows employees to work from home at least one day a week or more.
Pros and Cons for employees and companies: As with every working model, this one has its advantages and disadvantages. Its success of it depends on the company’s needs, and managing remote employees provides some challenges. Recently, telecommuting companies have applied the hybrid work model to encourage their employees to work from home with the equipment they use in-office. This is an example of when hybrid work is going to benefit your company or not.
Adopting this type of work model has many pros and cons. First, it can be quite beneficial to employees who want to spend more time with their families for a better work-life balance. The pro for companies is that it allows them to reduce overhead costs and many businesses notice an increase in productivity. One of the cons of this work model is that some workers feel isolated and may prefer to be in a real office setting. Companies may discover that some employees quit due to now having to come into the office or that their productivity levels drop when they work from home. Hybrid working is also more vulnerable to cyber threats. You need to make sure to cover the best practices for building a tight cyber security plan.
Hybrid working and asynchronous working
There are different forms of hybrid work, so let’s take a closer look at these options below.
What is Asynchronous working?
This term refers to tasks that employees can accomplish individually without needing to be as available simultaneously as the rest of the team. For example, editing a document or answering an email are examples of asynchronous work.
Difference between asynchronous and synchronous
Hybrid work includes both: Asynchronous and Synchronous ways of working. Synchronous work requires staff to be available at the same time or in the same place. This would include things like face-to-face meetings and collaborative work that must occur either in the office or virtually. The difference between these two types of work is that synchronous work requires employees to be available simultaneously to accomplish a specific task, while asynchronous work does not. Asynchronous working is more beneficial for remote working while synchronous is more suitable for on-site work. Remember to present these two ways of communicating to find the best way to work with your hybrid team.
In hybrid work, team communication is key. Whether you apply the asynchronous or synchronous working, you need a tool to have effective communication with your on-site and off-site workers.
The benefits of hybrid work
Provides flexibility: Hybrid work allows employees to enjoy a more flexible schedule to take care of things like their home and family. It also gives the employee a sense of freedom which motivates their daily working routine.
Improves motivation, productivity, and concentration: People who work from home tend to be more motivated to achieve since they want to show that they’re capable of remote work. Many people also notice an improvement in concentration and productivity since they can focus better in a familiar, quiet environment without distractions.
Changes conversations on email to chat: Many companies use chat programs to discuss issues or meet with workers rather than sending emails. This allows for better dialogue and an improvement in communications overall.
Replaces meetings with efficient alternatives: Virtual meetings can be an efficient method that helps remote workers collaborate without leaving their homes. Meetings are essential, so having the ability to hold them remotely or to have a one-on-one conversation gives employers better control. Find ways to keep your employees’ engagement high to improve your workforce’s productivity.
Hybrid Work: Best Practices for Employees
If you’re an employee with a hybrid office or remote working, keep these tips for best practices in mind.
Try to match your home office with your work setup to create the perfect home office.
Setting up the perfect home office will help you stay focused and maintain a perfect work-life balance between remote work and in-office work.
Equipment: Try to get the same keyboard, mouse, and monitor you have at work if possible, so you’re already familiar with it.
Ergonomics: To create a fitted home office, you need to search for the workstation essentials. Office ergonomics are an important factor when trying to enjoy your job and continuing to do the things you love to do outside of the office. Chronic pain from work can extend into your personal life and affect the way you live. Make sure that you have a comfortable ergonomic desk chair, a quality keyboard, and a roomy desk that provides you with support to prevent pain and injury.
Technology: You don’t have to use the exact same PC or other technology as your office but try to match it as closely as possible. Tech gadgets can make your work more productive if you select the right tools. For example, you can add your own touch by opting for a dual monitor or a voice assistant. Boosting your internet speed is also a great way to maximize productivity at home.
Organization: Declutter your new home office and organize it with filing cabinets, drawers, and bookshelves. This will make it easy to find what you need while working from home.
Lighting: Install lighting that won’t cause you to strain your eyes. You also want to choose lighting that makes you look good and clear in virtual meetings and teleconferences.
Office Décor: Remember to add some nice office décor to make your hybrid workspace feel personal and comfortable. Hang pictures on the wall and bring some houseplants to add some greenery.
Invest in mobile accessories
Working in a Hybrid Model requires you to have the needed materials to transport your gadgets and office tools between the office and your home.
Bags: Buy a quality suitcase or laptop bag for easy transportation, so you can take what you need with you whenever you need to go to the office.
Gadgets: Invest in a durable smartphone case, wireless headphones, and other gadgets to help you stay on top of everything whenever you’re on the go.
Chargers: Keep your electronics devices constantly charged by having one at your home office and keeping one at the actual office, so you never run out of power.
Communication and Collaboration
Effective communication and collaboration management are essential in a hybrid working environment. It’s important to maintain regular contact with your team, whether you’re working from the office or remotely. Here are some tips to enhance communication and collaboration:
1. Choose the right communication tools: Utilize various communication tools such as email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and project management platforms to stay connected with your colleagues. Make sure you are proficient in using these tools and establish guidelines for their usage within your team.
2. Set clear expectations: Clearly define your expectations for communication. Let your team know how often you expect updates, and ensure they understand the preferred methods of communication for different types of tasks or issues.
3. Virtual meetings: For remote workers, virtual meetings are a lifeline. Ensure you schedule regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and department meetings. Make these meetings engaging and productive by setting agendas and encouraging active participation.
4. Collaboration tools: Leverage collaboration tools like shared documents, project management software, and cloud storage to facilitate teamwork. This allows everyone to access and contribute to shared resources regardless of their location.
Evaluating performance in a hybrid working setup requires a rethinking of traditional methods. Consider these factors:
1. Output-based metrics: Focus on output-based metrics rather than hours worked. Assess employees based on the quality and quantity of their work, meeting deadlines, and contributing to team goals.
2. Regular check-ins: Conduct regular performance check-ins to discuss progress and challenges. These meetings provide opportunities for feedback, goal setting, and professional development discussions.
3. Employee well-being: Include well-being and mental health as part of the performance evaluation. A content and healthy workforce is likely to perform better.
4. Employee feedback: Encourage employees to provide feedback on the hybrid working model. Their insights can help refine and improve the approach.
Cybersecurity and Data Management
Hybrid working may introduce new cybersecurity and data management challenges. Here’s how to address them:
1. Secure your work environment: Ensure that your home office or remote workspace is secure. Use strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and keep software and hardware up to date to minimize security risks.
2. Data protection: Educate employees about data protection and confidentiality. Establish protocols for handling sensitive data, both in the office and when working remotely.
3. Backup and recovery: Implement regular data backup and recovery procedures to safeguard critical business information.
4. Security training: Provide cybersecurity training to employees to raise awareness about common threats, like phishing attacks, and how to respond to them.
Hybrid Work: Best Practices for Companies, Team Leads, or Managers
Here are some best hybrid work practices for businesses, team leads, and managers. A team manager should provide their employees with tools for remote working, create a space for workers to collaborate and communicate, and have the knowledge and tools to create an environment for in-office and remote workers to successfully work together as a team.
Some managers turned to micromanagement as a coping mechanism for a scenario that felt out of their control after experiencing the sudden loss of seeing their staff in the workplace every day. Fortunately, by enrolling in a training course tailored to the requirements of managers of remote teams, you may lessen the emotions that encourage micromanagement and get ready for the future.
Provide your employees with whatever they need
Set workers up for success: Ensure that your employees have everything they need for flexible work, including a computer, all software, and other essential equipment and tools. Offer the rights tools for them to have while remote working.
Office supplies: Give your employees office supplies like printer paper and file folders for use at home to help them stay organized and on-task.
Chargers: Ensure that all workers have the right chargers to power up company-issued smartphones, laptops, and more.
Build a virtual community
Use tools to stay in touch: Make sure you’re utilizing project management and remote communication tools to keep in touch with all of your employees regularly. The correct use of the office calendar is necessary to organize meetings, schedule appointments, and rev up your employee’s productivity.
Virtual happy hours: Hold weekly or monthly “virtual happy hours” to encourage both in-office and work-from-home employees to check in and talk to each other to keep in touch with your employees.
Weekly one-on-one meetings: Conference calls can be challenging but they can be productive if done correctly. Check-in with each employee at least once a week, holding a one-on-one meeting with managers or team leaders.
Invest in Technology to join the physical and virtual
Use remote software: Investing in software and other technology will allow workers to connect and communicate in physical and virtual work realms. Try a workplace management system to gain visibility over what staff are in the office, or working remotely. A WMS can assist with emergency evacuations, creating transparency, and maintaining data compliance.
Combat Digital exhaustion
Create a balance: Make sure workers have a good balance between synchronous and asynchronous work and develop a work schedule they can live with to prevent exhaustion or digital fatigue. Having meetings to discuss a certain topic in person can be exhausting if done repeatedly. You can mix between this and online work collaboration by doing asynchronous content reviews utilizing cloud-based software such as Google Docs to avoid in-office meeting burnouts.
Set Boundaries to have control and to keep your workforce focused
Hold regular meetings but set a time limit: It’s good to hold regular meetings but keep them as short as possible. Set a time limit, so your employees can get back to the task at hand. Practice one-on-one meetings to offer guidance to your employees.
Have an agreement: Establish a set agreement for workers so that they know when and how they should be working from home and when they should be doing so in-office. Your HR team can focus on defining the hybrid work model agreement. Create a plan for every worker and pick the best working days and times depending on the workforce.
Give and receive feedback: Keep communication lines open by giving regular feedback, and be open to receiving it too.
Identify the best way of work for each employee and be flexible
Get to know your employees: The hybrid work model is all about customization. Some people prefer to work together as a team, while others prefer to work alone from home. Be flexible and allow your employees to choose their preferred work model to achieve better results and improve performance. Always be open to negotiation and make changes as needed.
Create a Hybrid Work Policy
Set ground rules: Develop a comprehensive hybrid work policy, so your employees know the rules for working remotely and in-office. The policy should be clear about how employees should handle different situations, so there’s no confusion.
The hybrid work model is the new trend for many companies, and it looks like it’s here to stay. Whether they’re working from home or in the office, knowing how to manage employees is key to their success and yours so make sure they have everything they need at home (desk, tech, space) as well as in-office. While it’s a challenge for employees and companies to take on, implementing the hybrid work model the right way will ensure that you have a stronger, more productive workforce.