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What Is a Hybrid Work Model and How Can It Be Effectively Executed?

[By Jenna Bunnell - Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad]

As our working environment has evolved over time, many businesses want to strike the perfect balance between management and employee needs. For this they are turning to a hybrid working model.

We’re going to look at a few reasons why a hybrid working model is worth considering, then follow up with some potential challenges. Finally, we’ll finish with the best ways to execute this in your workplace. 

What is a hybrid model of working?

A hybrid work model consists of employees working both in the office and remotely. Every business's needs are different, so how this looks will vary. Some organizations allow employees complete choice over their work locations. Others may follow a more rigid pattern based on staff roles and requirements.

Many businesses realize the advantages of hybrid work once they see their workforces are still meeting deadlines and achieving tasks. Hybrid work offers flexibility for both employers and employees by promoting the sort of healthy work/life balance we all strive for. 

Why a hybrid work model is a great idea

Did you know one in two people won’t consider returning to jobs that don’t offer a hybrid work model post-COVID-19? That’s a shocking statistic. The workplace is heavily weighted in favor of the employee right now, so if your business isn’t facilitating this, chances are you’re an unappealing prospect for potential workers. 

Studies show that working remotely saves employees a whopping 40 minutes per day on commuting alone, so that’s a huge benefit right there. Interestingly, 23 percent of full-time employees are willing to take a pay cut of over 10 percent to work from home sometimes. 

It turns out the potential saving on salaries and commutes that hybrid work offers is an appealing prospect. 

Image source: https://owllabs.com/

A hybrid workplace not only prioritizes employees and their wants and needs but can ease anxieties about wellbeing following a full-time return to the office.

Which companies are facilitating hybrid working?

If you’re considering the hybrid work path, you’re in good company. Industry giants like Microsoft, Google, Spotify, and Facebook are all embracing this model. 

Adobe, for example, has wholeheartedly welcomed its new hybrid work model, going so far as to introduce Adobe Life. This is a new smart app designed to power the tech pioneer’s hybrid workforce, keeping employees productive and connected.   

30,000 global Ford employees now also work from home permanently with flexible pre-approved hours. Employees are expected to commute for group meetings and face-to-face projects but can spend most of their working week out of the office. 

Target, too, downsized its office space by a third in response to a combination of hybrid and remote work. 

Amazon is also allowing its employees to work from home indefinitely, with commuting options if required. The ultimate decision falls to individual team directors, but the general feeling is that a hybrid model works for Amazon’s tech and corporate staff.  

The Many Different Faces of Hybrid Work 

If you’re considering hybrid work, the trick is to choose a model that suits your business and team. Some permutations include:

Office-occasional work

This approach is mainly a work from home model with occasional jaunts to the office for important meetings and social interaction. Any existing office space remains as it is. 

To facilitate office-occasional work, you should:

- Create separate but equal perks for hybrid staff (this means showing appreciation wherever they work)

- Schedule regular 1-2-1 meetings 

- Build a virtual work community 

Office-first work

This is where team members work mostly in the office, with some flexibility regarding remote work if their role allows it. The preference is that staff are in the office. 

Some businesses trial remote workdays first to make sure their staff are happy with the arrangement. 

To optimize this working style and ensure inclusivity, you should:

- Keep real-time meetings to a minimum and record them

- Encourage managers to work from home

- Make all key decisions online 

- Measure performance by output, not hours worked 

Remote-first work

This is where everyone that can work from home does. Businesses behave like a remote organization and can hire and onboard staff members 100 percent remotely if they wish. 

To support remote-first working, you should:

- Provide equal opportunities for office and remote workers 

- Explore tools for improved collaboration 

- Ensure effective communication for all employees 

Before executing a hybrid work model

As with any workplace change, introducing a hybrid model comes with its challenges. 

Switching means remodeling your business’s processes. You'll need to meet new employee expectations and incorporate flexible working policies.

Tools must be implemented to connect your newly dispersed workforce and for staff to work together successfully. Done right, these factors can identify areas for improved productivity and boost employee engagement.

Before you go all in, check out our suggestions for maximum switchover success.

1. Transparent communication

Working remotely offers employees flexibility and freedom. A lack of visibility and misunderstandings can nonetheless become an issue without clear communication. Hybrid workforce transparency is crucial for teams to remain well-informed, productive, and up to date with projects and tasks. 

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2. Task organization 

Handling business operations in a hybrid work model requires absolute organization. The traditional Kanban approach remains relevant and works well for hybrid teams. 

Stay on top of systems, workflows, and processes while highlighting issues and planning for change. This method allows hybrid staff to self-organize and meet deadlines. Managers can then assess project progress and oversee operations. 

3. Virtual training

A distributed workforce needs a solid structure for virtual training. Top virtual training tips include pre-recording sessions for team members to watch back. This is a huge time-saver and avoids scrambling around trying to synchronize everyone’s diaries.

Effective small business phone and internet packages enable these online meetings. Together with integrated chat features, this allows staff to engage with training when they’re watching in real-time.  

There may also be new features they need to get to grips with. For example, while staff won’t need to ask “what does call waiting mean?”, newer tools used for productivity tracking may be less familiar to them. 

Make sure that no matter where they are, they’re brought up to scratch on anything they need to know.  

4. Maintain customer service 

One of the main managerial fears around hybrid work models is a potential customer service disruption. Customers shouldn’t be aware of where the service agent is in the world, as operations should be seamless. 

In the telecommunications industry, for example, businesses should embrace efficient remote call center management to maintain the same level of customer satisfaction they’d usually deliver. 

5. Staff perks

A hybrid work model needs to address all staff members’ needs. Perks are one area that require some thought to ensure equal benefits for everyone, no matter where they’re located. 

Here are a few ideas:

Office employee perks

- Free coffee and snacks 

- On-site gym or fitness classes

- Public transport credits

- Rideshare opportunities

Remote employee perks 

- Coffee shop allowance

- Health spending allowance

- Internet subsidy

- Home office budget 

Of course, the very nature of a hybrid work model means staff will work a combination of at home and in the office hours, so this aspect may require careful consideration.

Image source 

Implementing a hybrid work policy

To ensure everyone is on the same page, you’ll need a new hybrid work policy to lay out what’s expected of everyone and avoid tension within your team.

Whether they’re covered in your company handbook or an online document, your new guidelines should consider:

- Do office-based employees need to ask for permission to work remotely?

- Do office-based employees need to communicate when they’ll work from home?

- If communication is necessary, how much notice should employees give when working from home?

- Will office-based employees need to maintain their standard working hours when working remotely?

- Can employees work from home any day of the week?

- What’s the maximum number of days an office-based employee can work from home?

- Is a hybrid work policy applicable for all employees?

- Can office-based employees work remotely while traveling? 

- Will you provide equipment for use off-site? Whose responsibility will it be to maintain it? 

Embracing a hybrid work model

In 2022, the world has changed fundamentally. Employee expectations have altered, and to attract and retain the top talent, hybrid working must be embraced. Continuously developing your understanding of the challenges posed allows you to address them in meaningful ways. 

Implement annual engagement surveys to find out how your new work environment impacts your team. Use this valuable feedback to make iterations and improvements over time for the most successful working model.  

Your business’s workforce has altered forever, and it’s time to embrace this. Done right, your hybrid team can be just as productive as they were when they were located in an office, if not more so. With one big difference - your employees will be happier.

 
 
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