The challenges that remote work has presented employers for the past few years are being remedied, not by a full-scale return to the office, but with hybrid work strategies. These strategies promote both the return to the office and the retention of schedule flexibility for remote-capable workers. It is a compromise that is having eye-opening results.
A Little Background
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of companies flatly refused to allow employees to work from home. Their justifications were simple: they pay a lot of money for a place for people to work and, while productivity isn’t necessarily diminished by employees working from home, the strategy has a tendency of lowering long-term productivity, which can be severely detrimental to business growth and professional development.
Then the pandemic forced their hands.
At first, employees were mostly overjoyed. They didn’t have to go through the hassle of a commute, they didn’t have to have endless in-person meetings that many believed were a waste of their time. They didn’t have to go to events that seemed out of scope to what their purpose was as an employee for the company. They do, however, have to maintain the same (or similar) productivity level as they work from home; and over time, that becomes difficult for some workers.
This set the scene for one of the biggest effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: The great resignation. This was the mass exodus of workers from jobs to either take fully remote jobs with other companies, or in the case of a lot of older workers, to retire and leave the workforce altogether. One point of contention was that during a global pandemic, there were jobs where people had to show up or the business would fail. For workers, it was simple: make as much or more money without the risk of getting COVID-19 without leaving home. Now this strategy turns out to be filled with more detrimental variables than once thought, but at the time, remote work was the future.
Back to the Office
As the pandemic got under control, the more hard-line employers immediately started to recall their employees. Again, this causes some consternation as workers had, by-and-large, proven that they could do the job demanded of them remotely and didn’t see the value of going back to work in an office, taking more time out of their work week to commute. This only exacerbated the problems for businesses.
You see, productivity is the big issue. Business owners’ major point of contention isn’t the money they spent on culture up until they were forced to support remote workers, it is that people who work from home don’t always focus on a job in a set period of time. If a business is open from 9-to-5, and their workers are working remotely, productivity will likely be hindered. After all, people have distractions at home that they don’t have access to in the office. Even with all the other people at their office, they were able to keep focus on work pretty well.
That begs the question of why can’t they maintain their productivity without workplace distractions? The answer is more complicated than not. The truth is that employees with remote-centric jobs are likely to actually be more productive when they focus on their jobs, but surrounded by the comforts of home and the distractions that being at home ultimately presents, that focus can’t be sustained as long as it does inside the business.
Employers like to point out that workers are less productive at home, but that’s not true at all, it’s their perception because they don’t get the sustained effort they can demand in an office environment. That’s where the hybrid work strategy comes in.
Hybrid Work Strategies
The ultimate compromise for modern work is the hybrid work strategy. It effectively melds the two strategies to get workers in the office more, while still providing the enhanced flexibility that employees demand. This strategy, like fully remote work, gives your team a sense of improved work-life balance, fewer commutes, and the flexibility to do their jobs anywhere, while getting them into a more collaborative environment for a couple of days every week.
Unfortunately, it’s not just as simple as telling what people to be at what location each day. You need to have a deliberate plan on how to implement the hybrid work strategy to maximize your business’ ability to handle the workload. On top of that, keep in mind that some very high-quality, qualified workers will make career decisions based on whether they have the flexibility to work from home—not keeping this in mind will seriously limit your hiring pool. Here are a couple tips:
Keep an Open Mind
The hybrid work environment can provide a lot more than benefits to your staff. It can create changes in the workflow to help build more dynamic processes. As your team gets more empowered it can dictate how your business needs to be run, not the other way around. Use these insights and innovation to improve the way your business works.
Work Hard to Connect
The thing that makes hybrid strategies great is that employees get flexibility while business owners can have a dedicated culture to their business that is next to impossible with a distributed workforce. Doing what you can to provide the communication tools and leadership to get your team working in unison will make the hybrid work strategy effective.
Remember, if implemented correctly, the hybrid work structure is more efficient, and will produce more than either fully remote or in-house employment. If you need help with the logistics of a hybrid workplace, or you need some direction from our knowledgeable staff of technology experts, give us a call today at (410) 531-6727.