Long gone are the days where employees had to lobby for flex-time policies, and to work from home one day a week. The disruptions of the pandemic took care of that. Globally, many companies have implemented a carefully designed mix of office and remote working. This trend, post-pandemic has been retained by numerous organizations, whilst others have reverted to the 5-day, in-office, 9 to 5 model. But for how long will hybrid work models last? And are they really effective?
What is the difference between remote work and hybrid work?
Remote work is basically when employees connect remotely, allowing for more flexibility in schedules. Employees (as was the case during the lockdown), were not required to be present in the office. The hybrid model on the other hand, entails that employees can work remotely, but are also required to be present in the office for a number of days per week.
What makes the hybrid work model effective?
The potential of hybrid working models is limitless, with employees given more flexibility to achieve an optimal work / life balance. However, employee engagement and productivity comes into question, with teams not being physically present. Companies are required, now more than ever, to make a deliberate effort to enhance these factors, to retain top talent.
It helps save on costs and commutes
The hybrid work model allows for costs to be saved from both sides. Companies are no longer required to operate an office at full capacity (saving on electricity bills and on internet consumption). In addition, employees can skip the daily commutes – saving on time, but also on gas. Employees are also not required to live near their office, and can spend more time away from the city. The question does arise however, as to the costs that employees are now incurring due to this model (e.g. on internet, phone calls, electricity etc.)
Increasing time efficiency
Do you recall the longest meeting you ever sat in? That perhaps, was not effective, and had no clear agenda? Personally, I once sat in a meeting for 9 hours. The communication team, which I was heading, was granted a 15 minute time slot to speak at the end. Did we achieve what we intended to? Was anything on the agenda crossed off? No, to both questions. With Zoom and Teams meetings becoming the norm, efficiency levels in meetings have exponentially increased. What was once a 2 hour meeting (with the commutes to and from the location), can now be done in 30 minutes – provided clear agendas are in place, and one person heads the meeting.
With the flexibility the hybrid work model allows, employees can also choose when to work. Not all team members may be charged and focused at 9am. Therefore, starting work a bit later when the bursts of creativity come through could be more rewarding.
So, what are the pitfalls of hybrid work?
With every model, there are common pitfalls that companies need to consider, mainly tied to employee professional development. Companies need to ensure that all team members have the same access to information as they would in the office, in addition to access to one another – whether to resolve an issue or brainstorm a new idea. If professional development is part of the work culture, companies need to also ensure that team members (in office and working remotely) have the same opportunities to grow and excel.
Is the hybrid work model for your company?
Whilst employees have been lobbying for hybrid work models well before the pandemic, it may not always suit the businesses’ needs and in some cases, may slow down productivity. Yet, it appears to be growing in popularity across numerous sectors, mainly companies working in tech. In Lebanon, for example, there are some companies such as Hovi, a BDD community member, that have already implemented a 4 day workweek.
From studies and reports that have come out to date, the hybrid model seems to be working. But it is up to every company to choose what model works best, after trying and testing it of course.