What is hybrid work: the advantages & disadvantages
With the diversification of work styles, an increasing number of companies have introduced telework, which allows employees to work from home, along with workcations that combine travel and work. New words are springing up one after another, but recently "hybrid work", which combines telework and traditional office work, has begun to attract attention.
This article will delve into what kind of work style hybrid work refers to, and explain the advantages and disadvantages while taking up specific examples that can be used as a reference for companies that are considering introducing it.
What is hybrid work?
Hybrid work refers to a work style that combines remote work and office work into a rotating roster. Of course, some businesses let employees choose their own remote work days, but most managers will select when their employees come into the office.
Background of hybrid work
In response to the global spread of the coronavirus, hybrid work has been heard since the fall of 2020 as a new way of working amidst the pandemic. As part of infection control, "telework" was actively introduced, and in some cases all employees were transferred to telework as offices were completely abandoned.
But on the other hand, there are many situations where office work is more preferable. Communication between employees, more opportunities to collaborate and simpler methods for management are just some of the benefits of working in an office.
There are also opinions among workers, such as “I can’t concentrate at home” and “The office is more suitable for work environments.”
This is where hybrid work enters the scenario. An ideal balance between both form of working, which gives employees the opportunity to experience flexibility, while maintaining regular office environment.
Advantages of hybrid work
The advantages of hybrid work is a lengthy list, but let’s stick to the core fundamentals of why hybrid work functions well.
Increasing job satisfaction
Employees who prefer telework can telework, and employees who prefer to come to work can work in the office. Trust and attachment to the company will be born, which will lead to an improvement in satisfaction.
Giving employee’s autonomy has shown to increase job satisfaction and down the line this effects staff retention. This is particularly helpful in a time where we have seen many workers starting to quit jobs if their desired conditions aren’t met.
Securing human resources
It’s a great attraction for workers to be able to choose between telework and office work according to their preferences. It also gives businesses the opportunity to hire global talent and secure phenomenal workers, which otherwise would’ve been a missed opportunity.
As with everything, there are downsides.
There are several disadvantages to working hybrid, with many of these not having a current solution.
Difficulty in team management
With the introduction of hybrid work, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to keep tracks of employees who come to the office and those who remotely work. This inevitable reduces the opportunities for a manager to check work progress, schedule meetings or to know the current mental or physical state of employees.
Businesses will need to use cloud-based project management and communication tools, to enable seamless communication while being able to track employee progress.
While communication tools can help teams keep in touch, ultimately it still suffers. In an office environment, all it takes is turning your head to ask a question. Any confusion can be clarified much quicker in person, but navigating this through messaging isn’t the best method.
This can affect workplace relationships and productivity levels, which are both a hindrance to business objectives.
Business leaders are divided in two
The advantages of working hybrid are apparent to business leaders and while employees receive many benefits, it’s the business leaders which are struggling. Paying for office space but having desks vacant for most of the working week isn’t something every business can afford.
Many large businesses are downsizing their office spaces, because it’s simply unsustainable to maintain commercial office space while employees are at home.
Three examples of business incorporating hybrid work
Microsoft, which develops software typified by Windows, had closed its headquarters campus in Washington State and the Seattle campus due to the spread of the coronavirus. At the time on a limited basis, they allowed employees to choose between working remotely and in the office, or hybrid work.
Microsoft believed that a hybrid work style that is not bound by conventional norms such as working hours will be required in all organisations in the future. They made various attempts to incorporate flexible working styles, including allowing employees to work from home for up to half of their working hours. However, this doesn’t mean that physical space of the office is unnecessary. Microsoft decided to design flexible office spaces that adapt to their unique needs, while maintaining their importance.
After many variations of returning to the office, Nike ended up implemented a 3/2 hybrid work style for its employees. This meant three days in the office and two at home, which was different from their original plan of slowly returning back to the office full time.
The sportswear giant recognised that forcing its team back into the office would also reduce its capabilities of hiring new staff, especially roles in high demand such as tech.
Another company which has taken an interesting approach towards hybrid work is Klarna. The fintech company offers its employees with 20 days to work from the office, home or internationally.
Their teams are allowed to visit one of their worldwide offices, to connect with their global times and further their growth opportunities. Klarna’s approach has been far more unique than other companies which have adopted hybrid, and it has experienced great success so far.
It's here to stay
While there are several disadvantages that businesses still need to navigate and further optimisation need to be made, hybrid work is here to stay.
Employees are now accustomed to having flexibility and taking it away will only repel future talent or attribute to low staff retention. It's essential to foster a workplace which accommodates for employee wants, without slowing down business objectives.
In the end, it's all about balancing it out.