Understanding the Hybrid Workplace Model

COVID-19 upended the way the world works in every way. Now, as many people are starting to feel like we’re on the other side of the pandemic, employers are asking employees to return to the office. 

However, not all employees are on board, and there are a growing number of employers considering a hybrid workplace. 

A hybrid workplace combines remote and in-office work. What many employers have found is that there is a place for remote work and a distributed workforce, at least part of the time. 

This does have implications for every part of how a business operates, though. From HR to how the IT team will deal with the changes, it’s important to proactively prepare for what the hybrid model means. 

The following are some of the key things to know about the idea of a hybrid workplace model. 

What is a Hybrid Workplace Model?

In simple terms, a hybrid workplace model is one utilizing both in-person and remote work, but the actual rollout of such a model can be more complex than that. In a hybrid workplace, generally, some or all of the employees may be able to choose, at least to an extent, how and where they work. 

They might divide their work time between home and a central office. 

There are a number of specific ways the hybrid model might play out, depending on the industry and the needs of the organization. 

One example is having teams work on staggered schedules. There could also be a model where some employees work onsite permanently while others work remotely. Another idea is having almost everyone work remotely for the most part, but employees regularly check-in face-to-face in the form of meetings. 

The pandemic showcased the fact that we do have the technological ability to make remote work viable on a large scale. At the same time, it did also end up highlighting some of the downsides of remote work, which may be why a hybrid model looks especially appealing right now. 

Do Employees Prefer a Hybrid Model?

It would seem, based on what we currently know, that employees do prefer a hybrid model. The more flexibility, the better in the eyes of modern employees and especially millennials. For example, in one survey, having the freedom to choose how and when they work is more important than salary for nine out of 10 millennials. 

Generation Z will soon become the dominant segment of the workforce, and they’ve really embraced a preference for hybrid work. In a survey from Salesforce in 2020, Generation Z said they didn’t want to work solely from home. They express the desire to split their time between a work-at-home and in-person environment. 

Generation Z, more so than millennials, seems to value the concept of collaboration and socializing at work, but maybe just not all the time. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Work Environment?

As with anything, there are both pros and cons of the hybrid work model. 

Some of the pros include:

  • Currently, many employees may have apprehension about returning to work because of health concerns, and a hybrid model helps them ease back into this, rather than being thrown in suddenly. 
  • A hybrid workplace can be less expensive for employers. You can operate your office on a generally smaller scale, which might mean saving money in rent and maintenance. 
  • If you have employees who work remotely, this is going to open up your talent pool. Right now, perhaps one of the biggest challenges employers are facing is the fact that they can’t find the talent they need for open positions. When you can look outside your geographic location, you might be able to more effectively deal with this issue. 
  • A hybrid workplace is going to be more agile and able to quickly deal with challenging situations or a future crisis like another lockdown. You can more easily adapt when your employees are used to working in both situations. 

There are cons of a hybrid work environment, too, though. 

  • There may be differences in performance between remote and in-person employees. 
  • If some of your employees are working remotely more often than others, then they might start to feel out of the loop or maybe not be as much a part of corporate culture. 
  • Remote employees could be passed up for opportunities when they’re not as seen. 

Overall, a hybrid model can certainly work, but only if you fully assess challenges relating to IT, corporate culture, collaboration, and general management.