Working from home helps employees improve productivity by cutting commute times and eliminating distractions. That, in turn, motivates them to get more work done faster. Another perk is that they often have the flexibility to modify their work hours, making room for other interests and responsibilities.
But these benefits come at the cost of face-to-face time and employee engagement. In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of U.S. workers reported feeling less connected to their coworkers due to working from home. Plus, remote workers often have a hard time unplugging from work at the end of their workday. It can take a toll on their work-life balance and result in burnout.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could continue to harness the productivity wins of remote work without affecting employee engagement? That’s what a hybrid workspace delivers.
Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have already announced their company culture plans to make hybrid work arrangements permanent. Other companies, including Adobe, Atlassian, Spotify, and Uber, have also followed suit.
According to a McKinsey and Company report, a majority of organizations expect their employees to be on-site one to four days every week. With nine out of ten organizations planning to combine on-site and remote work, it might be time you consider a hybrid working model, too.
Shifting employee expectations
If you’re planning to ask employees to return to the office, it’s a good idea to think through the parameters around your decision. According to a recent Gallup survey, 54 percent of employees working from home will look for another job if their current employer stops offering remote work options. Now that they’ve experienced the flexibility of remote work, many workers don’t want to be confined to the office.
But that doesn’t mean employees want to work exclusively remotely. Over half of the respondents in the Gallup survey expect a hybrid work environment as a new normal.
Employees prefer hybrid work because it helps them avoid the commute and balance other responsibilities like caregiving and parenting. Also, it improves the employee experience by giving them opportunities to meet their coworkers in person and feel more connected to their workplace.
What is hybrid work?
There is no one-size-fits-all work policy or definition of hybrid work. Every organization can implement a hybrid working model based on its unique goals and needs.
However, the common thread across all hybrid models is that they offer employees the flexibility to work remotely or on-site. One of the most common hybrid work model examples involves asking your employees to come to the office a few days every week. You can determine when and for how many days they need to be on-site or let them decide.
Another hybrid work model example is where you allow permanent remote work for roles that don’t necessarily need to be performed on-site. Only those employees whose jobs must be done on-site come to the office full-time. You can then host monthly or quarterly team-building events to facilitate interaction between remote employees and on-site workers.
When deciding on a model and work schedule, keep in mind that Gallup found that four in ten employees want the flexibility to choose how many days and which specific days they go to the physical office every week. Meanwhile, 38 percent of employees want to be in the office two to three days per week.
What are the benefits of a hybrid work model for employers?
A hybrid work environment lets you retain these benefits of remote work:
- Enhanced productivity: Ninety percent of employees say they have the same or higher productivity working from home.
- Reduced absenteeism: Occupations with high levels of remote work availability experienced lower absentee rates and employees reported a higher sense of well-being.
- Employee satisfaction and retention: Sixty-five percent of employees want to work in a hybrid or remote environment.
- Cost savings: Businesses can save an average of $11,000 per remote worker each year with a reduction in office space.
Hybrid work also lets you hire from a global talent pool. You’re no longer restricted to specific locations where your company has established offices. Instead, you can recruit talent halfway across the country (or even the world). This can also save you from compensating employees for relocation costs.
The best part? Hybrid work lets you overcome the connectivity and engagement challenges of remote work. It ensures frequent in-person interactions among coworkers and fosters a sense of belonging to the workplace.
How to build a hybrid work environment
Start by providing employees with the right collaboration tools to perform their tasks regardless of their location. For instance, a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help marketing and sales teams share and streamline valuable customer data and insights.
With a cloud-based platform, sales reps can update a customer’s profile after every interaction, regardless of where they are working. That, in turn, helps marketers identify opportunities to send targeted offers and discounts to customers. They can access and update customer details from any location or device making it easier for team members to keep tabs on what their coworkers are doing and plan suitable next steps.
Besides CRM software, your employees will also need project management and workplace communication tools, like videoconferencing. Talk to them regularly to identify the right tools that will help them work from any location and collaborate with on-site employees. Many of these tools likely integrate right into a CRM, again allowing remote workers to easily access data and streamline their workflows.
It’s also crucial to strike a balance between in-office days and remote work. Reserve on-site days for collaborative tasks like brainstorming and ideation, with meaningful meetings in your conference room. Once a team locks an idea and decides on the workflow, they can work on the project remotely.
Finally, be sure to recognize and appreciate remote workers and provide them with suitable incentives and perhaps even supplies for their home offices. This will help foster a sense of belonging and help you retain employees. Also, don’t restrict professional development opportunities to on-site employees.
Choose a hybrid future for your business
In our post-pandemic climate, the hybrid work model is the future of work. Forcing employees to return to the office full-time will likely increase turnover while letting them work exclusively at home will likely lead to burnout. But offering flexible work arrangements within a hybrid workplace allows you to combine the best of on-site and remote work without overwhelming your employees.
If you’re setting up a hybrid work environment for your small business, Act! can help your employees collaborate and deliver a seamless customer experience. Click here to try it for free. No download or credit card is required.