Table of Contents
- What is a Hybrid Workforce?
- Examples of Hybrid Workforces
- How to Plan the Switch to Hybrid Work Arrangements
- Keeping Engagement High in Your Hybrid Workforce
After over a year of working from home, research shows that feelings are mixed about returning to physical workplaces and offices. A survey by Harvard Business School discovered that 81% of people who have been working from home through the COVID-19 pandemic either don't want to go back to in-person offices or prefer a hybrid schedule. Recent Brazen research also shows that over a third of remote workers surveyed said they would look for another job if remote work was no longer available in their roles. A study from Entrepreneur found that two-thirds of the global workforce report they are more productive working from home than from the office. And Gartner research illustrates that companies are taking notice of the demand for flexible and hybrid work options, with 82% of company leaders now planning to let their employees work remotely part time to all of the time.
Top employers realize that in order to recruit and retain top talent, offering the type of work arrangement that works best for each employee is key.
That’s why many organizations are expanding how they think about and provide work arrangements, with a variety of options in mind. And these options may incorporate options like going fully virtual, creating permanent remote work options for certain roles and functions, offering flexible work options for everyone going forward, offering co-working space stipends, reconfiguring existing onsite work spaces and technology to incorporate a mix of work arrangements, and more. As organizations build their workforce models for emerging from the pandemic, many have realized the opportunity to permanently evolve the idea of “the workplace” and expand their approach to the future of work. As they build the hybrid workforce model that bridges the gap between onsite and remote team members, they are ushering in the dawn of the hybrid workforce.
So What is a Hybrid Workforce and What Does It Look Like?
A hybrid workforce model is an approach that facilitates the integration of both remote work and onsite work arrangements in order to leverage the benefits of both working styles and accommodate for the flexibility that today’s workforce demands. Here’s how Harvard Business Review defines it: "hybridity promises organizations the benefits of remote working (increased flexibility, reduced carbon footprint, labor-cost optimization, and increased employee satisfaction) alongside the critical strengths of traditional, co-located work (smoother coordination, informal networking, stronger cultural socialization, greater creativity, and face-to-face collaboration)."
But because the needs of every organization are unique, the implementation of a hybrid workplace will look completely different from one company to the next. For instance, some employers might choose for certain groups to select onsite work days while the rest are done digitally, rotating with other groups to best utilize onsite facilities. Some may enable certain roles, functions, or teams to work remotely 100% of the time while requiring others to be 100% present at a physical space such as an office, facility, or retail location. Others may instate a fully flexible policy, enabling each individual employee to decide how to organize their schedule according to their own lifestyle, performance, goals, and responsibilities.
Notable Real-Life Examples of Hybrid Workforces
Here are some examples of how some organizations are going hybrid today:
- In December 2020 Google set a return to the office goal for September 2021, in which employees would be expected to work onsite at least three days out of every work week and "wherever they work best" the remaining two days a week.
- Ford Motor Co. will usher a new hybrid work model in July, in which 30,000 non-place-dependent US-based employees will have the option to work from home indefinitely. Employees will be able to return onsite for work that requires in-person interaction but work remotely on independent tasks and projects.
- Salesforce is giving its employees the choice between three different ways to work: 1) Flex, in which employees will return to the office 1-3 days a week for presentations, meetings, and teamwork, 2) Fully-remote, for remote employees who don't live near main offices and whose work doesn't require a fixed office, and 3) Office-based, for people who chose to work onsite at a company office location 4-5 days a week.
Many startups and tech companies are also adopting a hybrid or even a remote-first approach. About ⅔ of startups surveyed by Andreessen Horowitz said they plan to adopt a “hybrid model,” with most startups preferring to be onsite for 1-2 days a week; 28% were even looking at no office at all other than out-of-office meet ups.
How to Plan the Switch To Hybrid Work Arrangements
Safety, productivity, flexibility, and IT capabilities all factor into how your organization will configure a hybrid work environment.
The pandemic is sparking many organizations to rethink how they arrange onsite workspaces in a way that addresses immediate needs and concerns, and is also better optimized going forward. After more than a year of pandemic fluxuations, many organizations realize they need to be more quickly able to adapt and respond to situations like these in the future.
1. Prepare Your Spaces
When it comes to onsite workspace arrangements, it’s important to consider how many office employees are needed onsite at any given time so that you can equip essential personnel to be there when you need them. For organizations beginning to reintroduce onsite work arrangements, it’s important to develop schedules, norms, and seating plans that ensure that social-distancing guidelines can be followed within a coworking space. Try to limit office space for cooperative or mission-critical initiatives and ask the rest of your distributed workforce to remain remote and meet via virtual meetings until conditions improve.
2. Facilitate Collaboration
Find a balance between employee productivity and flexibility by thinking about how onsite and remote teams will work together as an efficient hybrid team. Run surveys through your managers and business leaders to determine the ideal work setup for most of your employees, then try to establish a comprehensive workplace framework and guidelines to guarantee that everyone gets the collaboration tools and guidance they need to succeed. To determine what these are, evaluate workers on a one-on-one basis to identify who needs more (or less time) in the office in order to produce the best results. That way you can keep employee engagement, communication, and satisfaction high, while ensuring your organization’s operational needs are also met.
3. Evaluate your IT Infrastructure and Security Needs
Is your existing IT infrastructure sufficient to support sizable virtual teams, and if not, how can processes, equipment, and access to resources be improved to get to where you want to be? Like Entrepreneur magazine notes, "as employers realize that this distributed workforce is not going anywhere, the shift to the office as a business center will only continue to grow. This will make the need for a solid IT foundation, inclusive of dependable employee personal devices, strong cybersecurity software (and education), and remote IT support even more integral than it once was."
So if you haven’t already, now’s the time to look into different online communication platforms that facilitate effective collaboration, hiring, and mixed event planning across your soon-to-be hybrid organization, such as the Brazen virtual events platform.
Keeping Engagement High in Your Hybrid Workforce
Creating your hybrid workforce is only half the battle. The other half is making sure that everyone feels just as (or even more) connected to one another after the transition. One key way to improve employee engagement across a hybrid workplace is to host virtual events that inspire more engagement. We’re talking about virtual employee events that offer ample opportunities for personal and professional growth, community building, and information about resources to help employees be more successful and satisfied at work.
- Peer mentoring events
- Expert speakers & industry topic sessions
- Informational sessions
- Skill-building events
- Benefits fairs
- Employee Resource Group (ERG) meetings & events
- Interdepartmental initiatives and summits
- Networking events
- Internal mobility recruiting events
To read the full blog post on this topic, click here.
The Future is Now
In conclusion, no matter which solution you pick, always make sure it supports your needs, vision, and company culture in both the short and long-term. Because the future or work is definitely hybrid, and you don't want your organization or your employees to get left behind in the shuffle.
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