Forbes states, “ 74% of professionals expect remote work or a hybrid model to become the new normal”1; therefore, the demand for proper office setups has become essential for employees. According to the Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post, remote workers are...
What Is a Hybrid Work Model?
A hybrid work model combines at-home and in-office work and is used by businesses to help bring employees back to work during and after the pandemic. The system entails sending employees to the office at different times during the day and week while having them work from home the rest of the time. Many schools and businesses have implemented this model to lower the number of people in the same building at any given time.
Where the Hybrid Work Model Began
Contrary to popular belief, hybrid work models did not start in 2020. This type of remote work has been trendy for years. In 2018, 70% of the world’s population reported working from home at least once per week. Working from home, as we know, is nothing new. For years, many working-class individuals have had cell phones paid for by their employers for work calls and emails. Employees have also answered emails, completed reports, and done other tasks from their laptops and home computers for a long time before the pandemic. The original work-from-home pioneer was Jack Nilles, now known as the father of remote work. He worked with NASA in the 70s and researched at his home regularly. He was made fun of then; the public believed that his idea for remote work would never be successful. With the increase of technology and expanded Internet capabilities, remote work has done nothing but grow. In 2020, COVID-19 shut the world down. The only way for many people to work was from their computers at home. As states have begun to lift quarantine restrictions and mandates, businesses have started searching for the best way to get their people back to work. For many, hybrid work was the answer.
How It Works
Some employees go to work half the week and work from home for the other half. Others have half days or just one or two work-from-home days per week. Some only go into the office one day a week. The only requirement to call it a hybrid work model is for there to be some mixture of at-home and in-office work. The underlying idea is that not all employees are in the office at the same time. Employees can take shifts; this way, they only come into the office to collaborate with their team and do work requiring a group. These group work sessions in the office are staggered, the intention being to decrease the number of employees in the office building at any given time to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Who’s Using the Hybrid Work Model?
Businesses have accepted the idea of remote workers with open arms. Many companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have continued to keep employees working full-time from their homes and will do so into the future. For some, this timeframe is indefinite. For businesses that don’t function as well apart, employing hybrid workers has been a significant development. Using hybrid workers allows small groups or teams to collaborate at some points and do individual work from their homes at others. It keeps up employee interaction and allows for group meetings and work sessions while still keeping the risk of spreading COVID-19 relatively low in comparison.
Businesses aren’t the only ones using the hybrid work model; many American schools also use it. A Co-op is a type of homeschooling that has been around for years. With this structure, students meet with a group about once per week for an in-person class. The rest of the week, they do their school from home with a parent or tutor’s help. Also, many colleges have had online courses available to students for years. Students have the option of attending some classes in person and some online. Now, it’s no longer an option. Most schools in America have fully dove into the remote or hybrid work model for their students. Many students, especially in grade school, physically attend school two to three days per week and attend their classes via zoom or another online method the rest of the time.
What Are The Benefits for the Hybrid Worker?
Hybrid work is the only option for many Americans who are in school or work in offices. Companies and their employees have been very accepting and even enjoy this work model for its many benefits.
The hybrid work model allows for plenty of freedom regarding time management and organization of tasks on an individual level. Employees are free to utilize their time as they see fit and organize their duties in a way that works best. This freedom allows many to spend more time with their families or work on a side business or hobby. Employees can organize their tasks in any order that makes the most sense to them and take breaks as much or little as they need. Overall, they can make a lot of their own workday “rules”.
More often than not, increased employee freedom leads to increased productivity. When employees can manage their own time and organize their tasks, they are often more productive with their work. They can set it up most conveniently and efficiently for themselves, which will allow them to complete work much more productively than when placed into a rigid schedule. They are also not as frequently distracted by office gossip, and there is no longer a commute taking up another chunk of time. If employees don’t have to spend the extra 20-60 mins per day commuting to and from work, they can use that time to get more work done or spend more time with their families.
Employees are generally more satisfied when they have more freedom. Saving time and money on the commute is guaranteed to make anyone happy. Also, employees can make their home workspace as comfortable as they like and suit every detail of their workday to their personal needs. The hybrid work model also has more of a balance than strictly remote work. This way, those who work better in an office still have that opportunity part of the time.
What Are The Potential Drawbacks?
If there are benefits, there should also be drawbacks and some benefits may also be a drawback. Hybrid workers, depending on their personality type, can suffer some of the malaise that office goers feel.
Although it is a benefit for the employees, employee freedom is not always a benefit for employers. Giving employees this increased freedom and responsibility puts a lot more stress on employers to create new protocols and set new expectations for remote and hybrid work. Although many employees can set their schedules and be responsible for their tasks, some still have trouble with organization and time management. Individuals who are not as good at these things will not have as easy a time with the hybrid work model. They will most likely not be as productive or satisfied if the increased independence presents a challenge.
There are much fewer personal and face-to-face interactions amongst coworkers and between employers and workers using a hybrid work model. Not being able to bounce ideas off of coworkers or see your boss’s facial expression when presenting an idea or completing a task can make things much more difficult. Everything from community and company culture to simple communication between workers becomes much more complicated with the hybrid work model. Additionally, many people work better in groups in general. Hybrid work allows for more convenient group work than a fully remote work model, but it can still be challenging.
There are also inevitably going to be IT issues. IT issues can make getting work done much more difficult, especially when they happen at home where there is no IT guy to come and fix it. Internet connection issues are not uncommon, especially in highly populated areas such as townhomes or apartment complexes, or in very rural areas. With so many people working from home, internet and computer IT services are overloaded with work, making it difficult to get the necessary help if employees have issues with their computers. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced companies to work out many of these kinks as they go along. Companies worldwide are struggling to find ways to keep their workers employed and their company afloat. Hybrid work may have its hurdles, but the benefits, primarily through the pandemic, outweigh the difficulties. As more businesses use this model, the standards and expectations for hybrid workers will become normalized and less of a complication. Companies will find a way to maintain company culture and community and to communicate productively and efficiently. In the meantime, it is up to these businesses to work things out as they go, many through simple trial and error.
- https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/05/24/the-work-from-home-revolution-is-quickly-g aining-momentum/sh=76f4dde71848
- https://www.bcg.com/en-us/publications/2020/managing-remote-work-and-optimizing-hybrid-w orking-models