As new habits were formed during the corona pandemic, many have grown accustomed to remote work. Now, as the offices are open again – the question is ‘how is work best arranged for the benefit of the organization and employees? Studies show that about half of all employees prefer a hybrid work arrangement for the future (Gallup 2021).
What is Hybrid Work?
Hybrid work can be done from anywhere – in the office, at the café, or from home. Remote work, on the other hand, is always done outside the office. The dictionary definition of hybrid is ‘of mixed character’ and ‘composed of different elements’. Hence a hybrid bus can for example use both diesel and electricity. The same with hybrid work; a hybrid workplace allows for a blend of in-office work, remote, and on-the-go work. The worker commonly chooses what makes the most sense at any given time, hence autonomy plays a key role in hybrid work.
The Benefits of Hybrid Work – From the Employee’s Perspective
From the employee’s perspective, an obvious benefit is cutting away time spent commuting. This is not to be underestimated. For millions of people, this means hours released to spend on work or free time. Add to that, how time in traffic is perhaps not the healthiest beginning and end to a working day – given both the peace of mind and – for big city commuters – hours spent in environments high on air pollution.
Work-life balance is another issue to consider when deciding where to work. The hybrid work opportunity provides a person the option of spending days at home to get the laundry done during breaks and going to the office for colleague interaction and feeling the pulse of a work environment.
Another benefit of the hybrid work setting is the opportunity to work with a relevant co-worker on a project in any setting of preference. There can be locations that not only suit the individual logistics for making a balanced workday, yet there are also places that offer a more energized environment. Places that do not drain you for energy but give you energy. Walking in the forest when having a meeting with a colleague can be a wonderful way of
Productivity is another benefit. Working from the place most suited for the task at hand can give optimal inspiration and output.
The well-being resulting from being in charge of life – including the work life, is a huge improvement in autonomy. This allows for the employee to be more in charge of arrangements for an improved life, health, and well-being. Flexibility is important in this mix as it invites a more balanced arrangement of daily tasks, responsibilities, and joys.
The Benefits of Hybrid Work – From the Employers Perspective
An engaged workforce
Today it is well-documented that inspired and engaged organizational members are much more creative and productive than those who are not. This should be no surprise, yet only recently is it systematically aimed for in many organizations through work arrangements.
In the Hybrid workplace, there are new opportunities for collaborating, which may encourage teamwork and camaraderie outside of work.
Greater Physical and Mental Health
The hybrid work situation admits for greater both physical and mental health as it eases integrating exercise, mental training practices such as mindfulness, or just being in a calm and quiet working space. The very thing of avoiding a busy and even noisy office is a huge improvement for people sensitive to noise. In the end, we all are.
Many are unaware that noise pollution is at the top of the WHO’s (World Health Organization) list of most damaging things to humanity. It causes high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, reduce performance, provoke annoyance responses, changes in social behavior, and stress – to name a few drawbacks.
Fun and play are essential skills of all mammals. The modern hybrid organization can benefit from encouraging people to take small breaks for play. Playing adds a sense of ease into our lives that benefit us mentally and so physically. Whether you will make a company quiz that simultaneously can create company culture bonding is up to you. Allowing for, and creating, the space for play is the first step.
Expand the Hiring Pool when Recruiting
More specifically, the hybrid work arrangement gives modern employees a greater hiring pool to draw from when recruiting. Hybrid opportunities open up the market for hiring talent across the nation and outside the nation as relocation is no requirement.
Thereto it becomes possible to hire people who are only part-time available for work and who perhaps – in light of commuting times – would hesitate to take on a job. People with a physical or mental handicap find in the new hybrid workspace new opportunities for entering the workforce for the benefit of their individual work life, organizations, and society at large.
Recruiting the Right Talent
The flexibility of expanding the hiring pool surely also adds flexibility to strategies of hiring high talent, which may not live around the corner. The hybrid worker can sit in New York and work in Amsterdam, Singapore, or Stockholm.
Decreasing mental and physical limitations opens up new opportunities for all parties involved. Talent enables sustained performance and new ways of working calls for companies to consider new identifying and hiring as it calls for new types of workplace perks.
As recruiting opportunities are no longer limited by geography and the possibility of showing up at the office, the competition for workers increases accordingly. This is a development that will obviously affect how many companies that offer hybrid working.
Arrangements for maximum physical and mental health will surely be a factor in the future workplace – as described above – and it will result in an organization’s ability to hold onto employees.
New generations are not up for taking orders from an authoritarian leader. While the best organizations have long since left that leadership style behind, research shows that 85% of the workforce is feeling unengaged as concerns their workplace and typically due to bad leadership and management. The hybrid work situation will intentionally and even unintentionally have a positive effect on employees feeling less dominated by an authoritarian leadership style.
Inspiration and Engagement
An inspired and engaged workforce should be on the wish list of all employers. The list of benefits includes a reduction in absenteeism, employee turnover and an increase in productivity, employee safety, effective leadership, customer satisfaction, growth, and much more.
This is relevant in a discussion of hybrid working in light of new investigations showing that workers prefer the hybrid working arrangement over other forms. By offering people structural and mental arrangements that suit their liking they are prone to feeling heard, seen, and recognized, which in turn is likely over time to increase their level of engagement and loyalty to the organization.
A Gallup survey shows that employees are 59% less likely to look for a new job as they feel engaged and that remote workers feel the highest level of engagement (Gallup).
Requiring workers who prefer hybrid work to work in the office causes lower engagement, well-being, burnout, and – as mentioned above – intent to leave.
Problems or Concerns about the Hybrid Workplace to Consider?
At any time in history, when new ways are introduced, they are accompanied by concerns about whether or not these are the right way forward. This is a good thing. Open critical reflection is healthy – emphasizing the word ‘open’.
It is a huge mistake to hold on to old ways just because they are indeed familiar to us or because we do not have all the answers as to the unfolding of new arrangements.
Company Culture, Integration, and Team Bonding
While one concern can be about the creation of company culture or lack thereof, we now have to embrace and foster a new type of company culture that is built around new unfamiliar virtual pillars.
A way of being social in the hybrid sphere is introducing social online meetings. Even cross-cultural office workers can benefit from this social activity since it is an opportunity for all employees to come together across nations and locations for a Friday hang-out. The virtual water cooler is to be considered.
In this setting, try to create an environment of celebration and recognition. This will inspire and motivate while bringing the team together for mutual understanding, recognition, and bonding.
Emphasize moreover transparency and access to relevant leaders. Hybrid work arrangements offer freedom, yet workers still need to be seen and recognized to feel they and the work they do matter.
Be Cautious of Hybrid Work Regulations
Be cautious about creating too many new remote regulations and guidelines. An organization is an unnatural setting, to begin with. Be inspired by nature, which arranges itself in the most beneficial way. Regulations prevent that natural ‘best way’ from occurring.
As with all other things in life, it is a balance, and the hybrid work arrangement is to be considered one factor in a multiplicity of factors making an organization. No one organization is identical to the next. Dare to call upon intuition, awareness, and conscious life leadership to make the best arrangements in your specific organization.