Hybrid Work – Is The Hybrid Work Model The New Normal?

Hybrid Work - The New Normal

As the majority of the workforce continues to work from home and the office, the world has transitioned into a new hybrid work model. The vast majority of companies are now offering a more flexible approach and a different outlook on work life balance, with some allowing employees to work remotely 2/3 days per week.

A recent study by Gartner has found that 48% of employees expect to work remotely once the pandemic is over and another survey conducted by Wakfield Research found that 47% would likely look for another job if their employer did not offer a flexible working arrangement.

The new hybrid work model has brought about many questions; How do we train our managers and department heads to lead a distributed workforce? How do we keep our employees engaged whilst maintaining a strong company culture? And most importantly, is the hybrid work model sustainable?

Although some employers are keen to “get back to the office”, the majority of employees aren’t so excited about the prospect. There is an evident disconnection between employees and employers. 

Companies who have already been hit hard by the pandemic are also now facing a high staff turnover rate as 40% of employees are feeling burnt out as a result of Covid-19.

So as we navigate our way through this new era of work, how do we embrace the new normal in order to help our businesses and employees continue to thrive?

Hybrid Work - The New Normal

In March 2020, our lives as we knew them changed forever, we had been listening to a distant whisper of a mysterious virus that was slowly spreading around the world and as we hopped of the bus and walked to work, the streets became strangely quiet and a nervous energy began to build in the office.

The following weeks and months were like nothing we have ever experienced before, and our working and home lives merged into one. Worldwide, we ended up spending a large proportion of 2020 at home and continue to do so due to the ongoing outbreaks and government enforced lockdowns.

During this time however, we found that we were no longer having to spend hours out of the day commuting to work which meant we were also saving money, there was more time to spend on cooking healthy meals instead of grabbing a pastry at the train station. We had more quality time with loved ones – life was good!

So it’s no surprise that a large percentage of the worforce the world over want to continue with this lifestyle and make hybrid work – the new normal   

7% of employees would take a pay cut if it meant being able to work from home two or three days a week

Hybrid work – the benefits?

The fact is, the hybrid workforce is happier and more productive. Employees working from home do not have the daily commute, they don’t have office chit chat and distractions, they have more time for family life and exercise and they are less stressed. Employees that are happier are more productive – It’s a fact! Happy workers are 13% more productive, according to Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. A happy team can lead to increased performance.

Employers can also benefit from the hybrid work model as they can save money on renting office space, paying out on sick days, and the inevitable staff turnover. 

By implementing a hybrid working model, employers are creating a great employee retention strategy. A recent article by Forbes, states that staff turnover can cost employers 33% of an employees annual salary. The costs to advertise the role, the interviewing process and training period all cost the company valuable time and money. 

Keeping employees happy and engaged makes business sense!

Hybrid Work - The New Normal

Hybrid Work – Provide people with the tools they need to succeed

Many companies have had to transition from offline to online and organisations have had to implement software solutions quickly and effectively. A key to the success of the hybrid work model is giving employees the tools they need to succeed in their jobs whilst working from home. 

Employers must ensure they are providing their remote workers with structure and support whilst ensuring they still feel valued and a key part of the team. Maintaining a great company culture takes time and effort, below are a few ideas:

  1. Implement employee pulse surveys
  2. Refresh your vision mission and values to reflect the companies new hybrid model
  3. Prioritise your teams thoughts and ideas
  4. Implement a wellness programme and encourage staff to take time out for their mental and physical health
  5. Check in frequently, via Zoom or Google Meets
  6. Get the whole team involved in weekly catch ups
  7. Ensure there is always someone available to answer questions and provide guidance
  8. Allocate team tasks to encourage your team to collaborate towards common goals and projects

Culture & Equality

There is a clear socioeconomic divide when it comes to the hybrid work model which has highlighted our age and cultural differences. The reality is, not everyone wants to work remotely! An article by fortune.com details how gen Z was already struggling with their productivity levels back in August last year.

Some of the younger generation are students straight out of University needing “real world experience” in their chosen field. Remote working does not allow for people to grow their skills and collaborate in a team environment.

Our housing differences and overcrowding in some households can lead to the exact opposite of a productive work life balance.

A recent survey found that 26% of Bangladeshi British households have more people than bedrooms, compared to just 2% of white British households

There are also situations where working from home isn’t ideal whether that be for reasons such as cramped accommodation or sharing a workspace with partners and children or even more sensitive reasons such as domestic violence. 

Will overseeing a distributed workforce make managers’ lives easier or stretch them beyond their capabilities?

Learning best practices to manage cultural differences for distributed teams is crucial to a companies success and employers would do well to invest time and effort here to ensure their company culture remains consistent, strong and supportive.

Trust

From one household to the next, there will always be differences in how employees approach their working day when working from home. What a strong work ethic looks like in the office may present very differently to a manger when working remotely, but that does not necessarily mean that an employee is not working.

After well over a year of remote work the trust between managers, employees and even colleagues is at an all time low. Distance breeds distrust, with managers not being able to oversee what a team member is doing throughout the day, some relationships have become strained. Relationships are built and maintained by spending time with each other, so remote working has put an increased pressure on the trust within a team.

There has also been an increase in employee surveillance through technology, a report by Express VPN shows that bosses say remote work make them feel like they have a lack of control over their business and 3 in 4 bosses are surveilling their staff. The same report shows that 59% of employees felt stressed about being monitored in what is already a very uncertain time.

The hyrbid working model has led some companies to blur the lines between what is etchical and what is necessary for the business.

Employees can help build trust when working from home by being proactive on reporting what they have done throughout the day and a key takeaway for an employer may be to set specific projects rather than actual hours worked.

By empowering employees to be in charge of projects and manage their own time, this can be a great way of building trust between employer and employee. 

Final Thoughts

If the ongoing pandemic has taught us anything it is to be patient and compassionate. Everybody’s situation is different and we have begun to and continue to to take down the corporate walls and see colleagues and employees as real human beings with lives and families. Here at Media Shark we are embracing the hybrid work model! 🙂