The coronavirus pandemic has forced organisations across the world to rethink the conventional paradigms of working. More and more workplaces are now considering moving to either a fully remote or a hybrid model. While work from home was on the rise before 2020, the pandemic led to an increase in remote work. According to Global Workplace Analytics, remote work has grown 159% since 2009, while Owl Labs established it has increased by 55% in the last five years. Now, a raging debate between work from home vs work from office and their respective productivity patterns has become commonplace.
Working remotely has benefits such as saving time on commute, spending more time with family and more time for personal hobbies. However, there is still a strong case to be made for working from the office, most of the time. One of the biggest setbacks of working from home is that employees tend to feel isolated and detached from their colleagues and organisations over long periods of work from home.
In my experience, I observed that work from home also does not suit everyone, especially people who have young children or those who prefer the fixed schedule of working from an office. For leaders, work from home leads to difficulty in monitoring performance of their teams and keeping everyone on the same page. As such, the question that arises is which model of working should organisations consider: work from home or working from the office.
Here, a third model emerges: The ‘Hybrid’ office. This model encompasses many possible systems. One of its biggest trademarks of this model is that it encourages flexible and blended working from different locations. This could be from home, on-the-go or in the office. Some organisations may also hire people from different locations and allow them to work remotely.
Hybrid as a more pleasing compromise
Hybrid work includes more freedom around when to work as well as where. It grants more autonomy to employees to plan their work around the rest of their lives. This is also beneficial for the employees and their families; a flexible working environment relieves employees from the stress of daily commute and allows them to spend more time with their families and on their personal hobbies. Simultaneously, it gives organisations access to top talent (who are more attracted by this flexibility), happier employees, and access to employees from varied cultures and backgrounds.
A hybrid model may be a more viable option in a world where employees desire flexibility to work from home while having the opportunity to come to the workplace for better coordination among teams and networking opportunities. Ideally, it’s the best of both worlds: structure and sociability on one hand, and independence and flexibility on the other. The data also supports this idea: A report published by Microsoft recently stated that over 70% of employees want flexible remote / hybrid work options to be available even post the pandemic.
While the world may be moving toward living with the coronavirus, the hybrid work model is here to stay. As such, companies need to incorporate structural changes to allow employees to work in a hybrid environment more efficiently. The future of work is hybrid, and both companies and employees need to adapt to the changes to thrive.