Hybrid work models are currently on the rise – but for better or worse?
As COVID-19 and its variants continue to cause disruption, and the Great Resignation trend makes any return to normalcy even more difficult to reach, businesses must solve personnel issues quickly in order to move forward. The hybrid work model – a combination of on-location and remote work, often favoured by employees while providing added safety during a pandemic – gives teams more freedom to manage when and where they work.
Nevertheless, though the hybrid work model may seem like an ideal operational solution for the ongoing pandemic, actually implementing and coordinating such an adaptation is harder than it sounds.
How can businesses overcome the challenges of this hybrid approach, such as keeping a cohesive company culture, and maintaining high levels of productivity? And what opportunities are available for businesses looking to benefit from this hybrid work model?
Understanding the challenges and opportunities of the hybrid work model can help your business move forward successfully, keeping your employees safe and happy while also maintaining efficient operations. See below for a closer look at the key issues.
The hybrid work model is certainly enticing for employees, as it lets them avoid business clothes, long commutes, and other obligations. But employers that embrace this model may find that it threatens the company culture they have worked so hard to build. Nurturing and reinforcing a cohesive corporate culture is seemingly impossible when teams don’t interact in person. As culture is one of the critical factors in business success, some companies are understandably hesitant to make such a profound change to their operations.
And yet, the switch to a hybrid work model need not damage the culture. In fact, in many places, the opposite has happened. In a survey of 5,000 employees, 72% reported that their company culture actually improved after switching to a remote work environment.
Such successes occur when business leaders take the time to learn how to nurture and construct a cohesive remote working culture. Regular connection through video conferencing or other technology can be vital – though the content of such communications is as important as their frequency. Business leaders at every level must properly articulate the company’s core purpose and values to employees, so that entire teams stay motivated and coordinated as they strive towards the same goal together.
Alongside company culture, another primary concern of business leaders is that the adoption of a hybrid work environment may lead to a reduction in work productivity.
It is true that, in many cases, remote work is closely related to burnout. Employees, working from their homes, may be unable to separate their personal space and workspace, resulting in distractions that require them to work longer hours. According to a survey, 40% of hybrid or remote employees have reported that the length of their workday has increased in the past year.
Furthermore, some employees prefer in-person communication in the workplace, in order to deliver their messages efficiently and clearly. Particularly in collaborative projects where multiple meetings are required, the remote work approach may not be ideal.
However, executing the hybrid work method the right way could increase productivity altogether. Suitable technology and software, structured contact through communication channels, and regular check-ins can add consistency to daily routines. Of course, business leaders must lead by example, fostering an empathetic culture to encourage productivity while maintaining a healthy work life balance.
Despite the challenges inherent in the hybrid work approach, there are some major opportunities for companies to take advantage of as well.
Businesses that embrace a hybrid work model have access to a vastly larger talent pool, enabling companies to hire candidates that would not be available through a traditional in-office model.
The expanded talent pool is especially important for global companies with international customers from different time zones. Providing a remote work option would allow access to the best people from different parts of the world, so that customers could get timely regional support wherever they are.
From the employees’ perspective, companies that follow a hybrid model are increasingly attractive places to work, as location flexibility becomes a growing priority among job seekers. In a survey of more than 9,000 workers around the world, 83% of respondents stated that a hybrid model would be optimal, as it would let them experience the best of both worlds – working remotely, and going on-site in certain situations.
When businesses overcome the initial challenges, and seize the opportunities of the hybrid work model, they can fully embrace asynchronous work. This model brings tremendous advantages, as articulated by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg.
Generally speaking, asynchronous work means that employees can work at their own pace and on their own schedule, without being expected to respond to messages immediately. For this type of arrangement to work, employers and employees must have parallel feelings of trust and respect – allowing managers to focus on evaluating work quality, rather than micromanaging their teams about when the work should be completed.
Furthermore, for asynchronous work to flow smoothly, companies must ensure that their employees have access to a proper work desk and laptop while in the office, and the necessary software to aid them in communicating with their co-workers while working from home. Essentially, employees should have regular access to the places and times that can maximise their productivity, mental well-being, and morale.
Navigating the path to success
Although currently trendy, hybrid work models are never simple to implement. Businesses need to rethink their approach to culture, while also accounting for the practical demands of such a transformation. If done right, however, your business can benefit (and even profit) from this new approach.
A smoothly functioning, asynchronous work culture can help your business thrive long after the pandemic has run its course. Of course, this model is also ideal for our present moment, as it allows for the hiring and retaining of top talent around the world. With the Great Resignation still a major concern, companies would be wise to take advantage of the widespread desire for hybrid work arrangements.
This is where the Connexus Global team can help. Contact us today, and let our recruitment specialists help you recruit the best talent globally, bringing your organisation further along the path to success.