Remote work was a big buzz topic back in 2020. Everyone wanted to all about its merits, winning strategies, and hidden reefs. Now, in 2021, everyone’s object of interest is the new hybrid work model.
“Hybrid working represents a change in the patterns of both demand and supply in a way that moves the economy forward.”
What is a hybrid work model?
As the name suggests, the hybrid work model implies a combined employee’s schedule that has both teleworking with in-office time in it. In some cases, the company even leaves it for their employees to decide whether they want to come work in the office or would rather stay at home. But, of course, there is no universal hybrid model fit for every possible working scenario. You will have to find your own balance between each individual employee’s personal needs and your company’s performance goals.
As things stand, many world-renowned, i.a., Quora and Dropbox, have chosen hybrid work as their primary business model. Now it’s your turn to decide what the future of your work will be and whether or not you’re going to heed the views of your employees on the matter.
Trending Hybrid Work Models
If we take a look at the most popular hybrid work models existing today, here are three main variations:
- • Remote-First: the vast majority of employees work most of their time remotely, but the company still keeps some office space in case some tasks will require their presence or just for those team members who would like to work out of the office every now and again.
- • Office occasional: the main idea is that employees come to the office several days a week (usually, two out of five). So, basically, it’s a halfway house between full-on office-based operation and teleworking.
- • Office first: the company management and almost all of the employees work out of the office while some team members can work remotely. The main drawback of this type of hybrid model is that teleworkers may feel excluded from day-to-day office life, not form team connections with co-workers, and. As a general rule, they are less likely to be considered for a promotion.
Some companies, e.g., Salesforce, take one step further and give each employee these three options to choose from:
- • Flex: remote work with 1-3 days a week in the office for meetings, presentations, and some work in collaboration with others.
- • Fully Remote: exclusively reserved for team members whose physical presence is not required for successful performance.
- • Office-Based: office-based operation 4-5 days a week.
And they plan to discard the third option once and for all in the nearest future. As Brent Hyder, the chief HR officer at Salesforce, stated in his blog post:
“An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead, and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks.”
Salesforce is not the only corporate giant currently shifting to hybrid work. Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo recently announced their future work model:
“Remote work will be the primary orientation of our company — the default for all choices. I will not work out of the office, and I will visit the office no more than once a month. Our leadership teams won’t be located in the office.”
According to the new Quora policy, the key to successful hybrid work is applying your chosen model to the company’s management team first to set a positive example. Having a 100% office-based leadership will most likely develop the office-centered working culture even if the vast majority of your employees work remotely. That’s because people tend to think that working side-by-side with the management in a closer personal contact can bring them some sort of benefits.
As for another illustrative example, Dropbox will also be a remote-first company soon. The majority of their team will be working outside an office by default.
Despite the fact that teleworkers are usually more efficient, as the survey by Gartner clearly shows, 64% of managers, according to the same study, still believe office-bound team members perform better and would rather promote or give a raise to someone in that category than to a full-time remote employee. But that tendency will definitely change in the nearest future.
Tips and tricks for productive hybrid operation
As a manager:
- Start thinking remote-first. Setting tasks for the remote part of your team shouldn’t come as an afterthought. It’s critical to keep everyone as engaged as possible.
- Go paperless. There is absolutely no reason to keep piles of paper printouts lying around anyways. And in case you absolutely need a paper file, make sure you have a scanning app in place.
- Move all your meetings online. Plus, you can encourage every team member to join meetings from their own devices, even if some of them are currently sitting in the same room. This way, no one will have a feeling he’s treated differently.
As an employee:
- Try to recreate your office desk setup at home so you won’t have to go through an adaptation period every time you switch your work environment.
- Maintain your workday routine even if you’re out of the office. The “extra” time you’d typically spend on the commute is an excellent opportunity for self-education and mastering new skills.
- While working from home, you can still be part of in-office conversations via corporate chat apps. Some companies even have virtual team-building events.
Expert opinions on the future of hybrid work
Here’s what the chief scientist at Microsoft, Jaime Teevan, has to say:
“Remote work is great for individual productivity and routine tasks, while tasks that depend extensively and dynamically on other people and creative tasks like brainstorming and problem solving are where in-person collaboration thrives. For example, the start of a big project is a great reason to get together in person, but once problems are formalized, workstreams standardized, and responsibilities settled, many projects shift into a loosely coupled mode, where remote work can be more effective.”
According to the research by the University of Oxford expert team, the happier your employees, the more successful becomes their individual performance, especially in sales. While Trello Experts say that 75% of their respondents are more productive working from a familiar home environment, and 50% don’t want to go back to the usual office-centered ways.
Our expert interview
We’ve interviewed Anton Lysevich, the CPO at Electronic Team. He opted for remote work more than six years ago, and his career growth had never stopped since. So, here’s what he says about his personal remote work experience:
Q: How long have you been working remotely?
Well, I’ve been working remotely since 2015, so it’s been about seven years now.
Q: Why did you choose remote work for yourself?
One day I just realized how uneasy it was for me to focus on my work when surrounded by a swarm of people. Besides, I craved traveling the world and changing the city of living in the first place.
Q: What challenges did you face at the start?
The most challenging part of telework, in my opinion, is communication. I imagine the whole world started noticing that at the beginning of 2020 when our habitual patterns simply broke. For instance, it became mission-impossible to just pass by your colleagues and exchange a few words with them as we did before.
Q: What tools for remote work do you prefer?
My everyday working kit always contains Zoom, G Suite, and Figma. There might be other tools I may need depending on the tasks but these three are the bare essentials. I always do my best to organize working processes the location-independent way, so to speak.
Q: What thing do you consider to be the must-have for comfortable remote work?
My formula is a comfy chair, the latest MacBook Pro, the high-speed internet, and a cup of Ethiopian coffee—with this stuff at hand, everything is feasible for me.
Q: What advice can you give to all remote employees? How to increase their work efficiency?
Firstly, I’d recommend sticking to the regime come rain or shine—that’s crucial for being productive and creative if this is a part of your work. Secondly, don’t forget to plan your schedule thoroughly.
Last but not least is about communication—talk to your colleagues more. By that, I mean not just discussing your Jira tasks or complaining about any working issues but chatting about everything that matters—news, family, hobbies, you name it. It’s like you do it in real face-to-face life.
Q: What disadvantages of remote work can you mention?
The only drawback that comes to my mind is if you’re the only remote player on the team. No doubt, it will make it a bit more difficult for you to stay on the same page with others who are in the same room.
Q: Are you satisfied with your working routine, or do you prefer to come back to the office?
I can’t complain. My office is always with me wherever I am. While I’m aware of how crucial it is to get together in one place and enjoy personal communication, I would still prefer remote work overall because of all the perks it offers.
Other experts research
However, some professionals state that the hybrid model is not without flaws. For instance, Bank of England officials admit handling hybrid meetings “may be more challenging.” According to the OECD, many managers are concerned that having part of the team out of the office can have adverse effects on collaboration, corporate culture, and overall wellbeing. Plus, some managers are not happy with the much-reduced ability to watch over employees at work.
At the same time, the hybrid work model is a great way to prove that the company truly listens to the employees and is willing to go above and beyond to meet their needs. This has a tremendous positive impact on the general perception of the company and the value of each individual within it.
As the numbers provided by the Microsoft and LinkedIn ongoing research show, the vast majority of respondents would love to combine the flexible schedule, remote work offers with the ability to collaborate and communicate with the rest of the team. Another intersecting aspect: 58% of both the people who prefer to work in and out of the office do that to stay focused on their work tasks. Well, another proof that each person is different, isn’t it? And here is another one: 45% of the managers want to remain office-based, while only 39% of non-managerial employees express the same wish (which is still a lot more than managers expect). This opinion gap already has its own name — the Hybrid Work Paradox.
According to the recent Zoom research, it is more likely that younger employees aged 18-34 will want to spend more time in the office, much unlike the 65+ age group that wants to stay home as much as possible. Also, it’s essential for the people who work on a hybrid model to have access to the company’s facilities and resources at any time they need to use those, as well as a reliable communication tool to stay in touch with the office-based part of the team.
The new era of remote operation is already here, so let’s face it head-on and be fully prepared. Hybrid work has already become the new reality for millions of people, so safe and reliable remote access tools are a must-have in every company. It goes without a doubt now that the global labor market is changing rapidly, and no one can predict what it will look like tomorrow. But even in the most turbulent times, there will always be a fair shake to grow and thrive.