The What, Why, and How of Shifting to a Hybrid Work Setup

Today’s new normal has people working from home, with online communication tools taking the place of face-to-face interactions. Traditional office practices may never be the same once the dust settles and people come back to physical offices. 

Traditional work setups and remote work setups each have their upsides and downsides. And this is where the hybrid work model enters to offer a good balance between the two. In the post-pandemic world, the hybrid work setup can be a viable solution for many companies, especially those who need some time to restore their company to its pre-pandemic state. Best of all, managers have proven that shifting to a hybrid work setup is not merely a survival tactic, but can bring about more benefits for the company and its employees than traditional office work. 

What is hybrid work?

The hybrid working model is a work management setup that allows and encourages the harmony of working from various locations: remotely at home or on the go, or in the office. Essentially, it’s a combination of remote work and an in-office work model. Roughly 80% of employees want to switch to a hybrid work setup after the COVID-19 global health crisis. 

The hybrid work model can look different in various types of companies. For example, some companies may adopt the remote-first model, where companies default to remote work management but keep their physical offices for exceptional cases or needs. 

Some businesses can opt for an office-on-demand setup, where employees can go to the office a few times weekly and work remotely on other days. It’s somewhere between a remote-first and office-first format. In the case of the latter, the office serves as the primary place for work, but the company can offer a work-from-home perk for their employees. 

Benefits of hybrid work 

  • Reduces exposure to illnesses

With a hybrid work model, the risks of contracting and spreading illnesses are decreased since fewer people will be in the office, thus reducing the chances of transmission. The risks further decrease if the company adopts a remote-first approach. Of course, the main reason businesses are forced to shift to remote working is to prevent the COVID-19 spread while maintaining business core operations.  

  • Save on office space

Since a hybrid work setup means that fewer employees will be physically in the office at any one time, you can choose to downgrade to a smaller office space and save big on overhead costs, while your employees get to cut costs on transportation and food expenses. 

  • Improve work-life balance

A 2020 report from Buffer reveals over 9 out of 10 people would prefer to carry on with remote working for the rest of their careers. Employees who work from home have more time to spend with their families and take care of their well-being. They can also use the time they save on commuting to run personal errands or projects. 

  • Hiring does not need to be geographically limited

One of the problems HR people have when hiring workers is the limited talent due to geographical restrictions. By allowing remote work arrangements, you can access a wider and more diverse talent pool and hire top talents globally. Manila Recruitment, a top-notch recruitment agency in the Philippines, helps organizations tap on exceptional talent and build an offshore staff for increased business competence. 

  • Prevents Zoom fatigue

One of the stressful cons of an entirely remote work setup is the seemingly endless Zoom meetings. Virtual meetings and in-person meetings are different, where the former can be more exhausting since it takes more effort to communicate and read people’s body language through a computer. The option to hold meetings in the office can help reduce Zoom burnout and increase collaboration among teams. 

Limitations of hybrid work 

  • Not everyone can work from home

Some important functions like manufacturing, warehouse management, and service-based jobs can only be done on-site, so it will be a challenge to implement a hybrid work setup with employees in these fields. In addition, some employees don’t live in an environment that is conducive for remote working, which may reduce their efficiency. A survey shows that only about 51% of employees who can perform their jobs on computers can work remotely at an 80% efficiency rate or higher.

  • You need to invest in work-from-home infrastructure

It is common for employers to invest in hardware like laptops, computer mice, and headphones for their remote employees. However, you should also invest in cloud infrastructure, project management tools, and a unified communications channel to ensure that your employees’ productivity will not be affected as they work from home. 

  • Tensions between remote and in-office workers

There can be an apparent disconnection or division between remote and in-office employees, which can cause miscommunication and poor collaboration. The two groups may create perceptions of the other in an unhealthy way. 

For example, remote workers might view their in-office coworkers as people who get better career opportunities since managers often see them in the office. Meanwhile, in-office employees may view their remote colleagues as not equally hardworking since they don’t see them in action. 

How to shift to a hybrid work setup 

  • Know who can work remotely

Not all roles and departments are built for remote working. Likewise, not all employees work productively at home or perform as well as they do in the office. Determine who can work remotely. But allow people to choose how they would prefer to work within the hybrid work model. 

  • Invest in tools and equipment to make hybrid work easier

A hybrid work model will encourage you to invest in tools and resources to help your teams work better as a unit. To create a seamless environment for your digital workforce, you can look for tools that help with task management, project management, access to cloud-based storage, communication, etc. 

Moreover, providing access to training resources like HubSpot Academy or Coursera to help improve your workforce’s hard skills and soft skills can help make the hybrid model easier for everyone. 

  • Create a clear policy regarding remote work

Establish a clear policy and rules about your hybrid remote setup before implementation. Explain the hybrid work model you’ll be adopting and how it works. Ensure to indicate who is eligible for a hybrid work setup, how they can request hybrid work, and how the model works according to your existing company policies. 

You can also run a survey in the entire organization about which type of hybrid work model the majority of the employees favor.

  • Ensure clear communication lines

Smooth communication practices are crucial for an effective and successful hybrid work setup. You can identify specific communication tools everyone in the organization will use exclusively for work. For example, instant messaging tools like Google Chat can be used for team communication and collaboration while Google Meet is ideal for virtual meetings. 

Encourage employees to respond in the workplace-assigned chat tool within, say, 30 minutes. If they fail to do so, the manager can reach out via personal messaging apps, such as Viber. 

Final Thoughts 

The hybrid work model provides many benefits to both employers and employees. However, it requires plenty of adjustments. During the transition, you might encounter challenges as you reassess your policies and processes while creating a seamless hybrid work approach. 

With continuous evaluation and improvement, businesses and employees can find the perfect balance between remote and in-office work setups. 

If you’re planning to get your business ready for hybrid work, you must assess how you’ll implement it and whether it’s a feasible work management solution for your organization. You can consult with Manila Recruitment if you need help with human resources and people management, especially for your offshore operations. 

Ron Cullimore