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Like transformative events before, recent events have fundamentally shifted the norms of the modern workplace. One of the most meaningful changes occurring at work today is the emergence of the hybrid work model.
The hybrid work model emphasizes productivity and efficiency because it overcomes the downfalls of remote and in-person work while balancing their respective benefits.
Here are the top advantages and disadvantages of the modern hybrid workplace model.
Because hybrid workers have more flexibility to choose when and where they work, this type of employee tends to be more empowered to choose the right environment for their needs on any given day. Compared to those who work a traditional 9-5 office schedule, they won’t have a lengthy commute or additional time away from home. They may even have a higher rate of productivity than those who work remotely full time, according to some studies that suggest a permanent switch to remote work would make the workforce less productive overall.
For example, some recent research shows that though many workers are still working remotely, they’re not feeling as engaged or fulfilled in their work as in previous years.
This might be because of the lack of direct supervision that these types of workers experience and the generally unstructured nature of working from home on your own schedule.
On top of those concerning statistics, employees working remotely might also feel like they’re missing out on something — particularly those in the workforce who are younger or less experienced. In fact, 30% of workers with less than five years of job experience said they prefer telecommuting no more than one day a week, compared with 20% of all respondents surveyed in PwC’s 2021 US Remote Work Survey.
A new report from CareerBuilder showed that remote and hybrid job listings are attracting seven times more applicants than fully in-person job posts. Research from Gallup also found that 90% of white-collar workers who had worked remotely at some point as of September 2021 would prefer to keep doing so.
The most shocking finding: 30% indicated they were extremely likely to seek a new job if their company eliminated remote work.
Employee retention is a major problem for employers. Currently, some of the best talent is being lost to attrition. Considering the cost of losing an employee can be as high as 1.5-2 times the employees’ annual salary, losing some of your best talent to attrition is an increasingly costly problem to have. But it's not just the immediate loss that's concerning. It's also the time and money spent recruiting and training up the new employees needed to fill the gaps created by each departure.
But employers should be cautious about blaming 'the great resignation' for the record-high number of employees leaving their current companies without examining the deeper implications of driving factors — rising burnout rates, misalignment between what employees want and what their company offers, and the impact of a global pandemic that surfaced a renewed urgency for reprioritizing personal priorities.
There are some reasons to think companies that hire employees on a hybrid basis will have a key advantage in terms of hiring and retention. Why? The data shows that organizations with hybrid work options will be more likely to attract a wider range of candidates and that adopting a hybrid work model could help reduce turnover.
A global study by Jabra surveyed over 5,000 knowledge workers to find out what they wanted their future work arrangement to look like.
Ultimately, leaders must focus on what truly matters to today's workforce: Having the options to design their workday in the way that best fits their needs.
Many leaders worry about losing an employee to a competitor because they were able to offer more flexibility or better hours, as more and more workers seek better work-life balance or look for another company that gives them the option to work remotely. It's these contributing factors that are driving the adoption of hybrid work models.
It's clear this is one of the biggest life-changing transformations to the office that the world has experienced. Even those returning to work to some extent understand that while they may return to the same location, there have still been significant changes to how people work and what they want from the office experience.
Some of the companies who were among the first to grant workers the option to work fully remotely haven't given up on the corporate office. Big tech companies such as Google and Meta, for instance, have continued spending billions on office space expansions.
Why? Look at how they're approaching their return plans:
It's clear that we are in the midst of a transition from traditional office routines to more dynamic arrangements. It's also clear that this transition is just as much about overcoming the downfalls of the traditional office but rather about adjusting your space for how people want to work. Clearly, there's still a reason to expect people to use the office. But expect them to be less interested in desk-based office space and more excited about environments that put a greater emphasis on collaborative working.
Still, the hybrid work model has its challenges — for instance, companies will need to keep the space from feeling too empty or overly crowded at any given time. Because the nine to five routine doesn't suit many people anymore – either because they're simply not motivated by it or need an alternative type of structure for their day as part of achieving success at home and/or work-life balance, some hybrid arrangements will split single days between home and office environments. For instance, an employee might come into work for morning meetings and head home at lunch on one day, stay all day the next, and then work from home the remainder of the week.
Because of this high-degree of fluctuation and variability, scheduling and self-service technology is becoming more important than ever. As more companies launch a hybrid work model as part of their goal to address employees' challenges in - and out - of their physical offices, they should look into hybrid workplace tools that allow them to keep attendance organized so in-office workdays aren't chaotic or poorly planned.
The mass adoption of hybrid work is a relatively new phenomenon, so it is difficult to determine the long-term impact of this new normal on organizational culture and business performance. However, as we talked about here, there are some advantages and disadvantages to this type of work structure that are already becoming clear.
One last thing to keep in mind when it comes to overcoming the downfalls of a hybrid work model is this: People have high expectations of employers today. When it comes to their well-being, agency, and autonomy, don't cut corners. Giving employees the option to choose when to work remotely and when to come into the workplace may help overcome some of the modern challenges people face and empower them to work how and where they feel most engaged and motivated.
As companies transition to new and improved ways of working, supporting individual employees can make the difference between a workforce that's engaged and motivated and one that isn't.
Find out what experts say about supporting the mental health and well-being of your workforce, so you can:
Watch our Expert Roundtable: Getting Serious About Well-being at Work.
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