The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly left its mark on nearly every aspect of everyday life. Stay-at-home orders were an important step to mitigating widespread disease during the beginning of COVID, but it did have its consequences on the economy and the day-to-day operations of many businesses.
To stay afloat in these trying times, businesses across the globe shifted as much of their operations to remote work. With vaccinations increasing and the threat of COVID slowly minimizing, it is becoming an increasingly common topic of debate as to the future of work from home and what to do with the new remote infrastructure.
While a vast majority of employees would prefer the freedom of work from home, managing remote teams can be immensely difficult and even impossible in some instances. The many debates surrounding transitions from a post-pandemic workplace have made the hybrid work model an increasingly popular option for both employers and employees alike.
What is the hybrid work model?
The hybrid work model is a method of employment that includes both in-person and remote work. The greatest advantage of the hybrid model is that it can pull from the strengths of both in-person and remote work.
Take a working parent that has a child that suddenly becomes ill. With standard in-person employment, that person would likely take time off, which eats into their vacation time that they would have otherwise used to spend with their entire family. With a hybrid model, that same individual could be working while away which could not only contribute to the company, but also allow that employee power over when they want to take time off rather than being the victim to unforeseen circumstances.
The hybrid model comes in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and below are three of the most common utilizations of the hybrid work model. These three methodologies basically differ in the way that they split up the in-person and remote work.
Scheduled hybrid work week
The hybrid work model that follows a split week essentially allows employees to work from home for some days and commute to the office during the rest. For a standard five-day a week desk job this would typically mean having three days of working from home and going into the office for the other two.
The hybrid work week can be tailored to ensure the best results for both employee and employer. Some positions that are less physically necessary can implement more work from home days while allowing for the same level of productivity. The inverse can also be true where a more in-person demanding job could have four days in-office and one day work from home.
One of the largest issues with going back into the office is that while the office space may have been within its legal occupancy limit before the pandemic, it may still be necessary to give employees enough physical space to feel safe.
While CDC recommendations are loosening as more people become vaccinated, maintaining social distance and staying well under full capacity can allow employees to feel more at ease about coming back to work regardless of vaccination status.
A hybrid work model that plays well into this is the split staff model. Essentially a business splits its staff into two groups. The two groups have alternating time working in the office and out of the office.
For instance, group one would go into the office during the first and third week of the month while working from home the other weeks. Group two would follow a similar schedule but inverted, meaning they would go into the office during the second and fourth weeks of the month.
The employee choice option is a somewhat self-explanatory type of hybrid work that gives the employee the power to create their own hybrid schedule. These can be more difficult to coordinate as a business, but can be incredibly helpful to the employee and can drastically improve both work-life balance and job satisfaction.
As the pandemic winds down, giving the workers a choice of if and when they would like to go into the office is ideal in many scenarios. A majority of debate surrounding going back to the office is that some people feel comfortable while others are still nervous about larger gatherings of people. Giving the choice to the employees is a great way to allow both sides to get their ideal working situation.
Hybrid work and work-life balance
One of the largest benefits of a hybrid work model is that it allows people to have more flexibility in their schedule and helps to reduce the daily grind mentality typically experienced during the traditional in-person five-day workweek. The hybrid work model helps to facilitate a better work environment for employees by reducing fatigue, improving productivity, and allowing for a better work-life balance.
The daily grind is a real hindrance to many employees and employers. It is a known phenomenon that the days leading up to the weekend tend to see a decrease in productivity and motivation on the side of employees.
While the most productive day of the week is debated, there is definitely a declining trend in productivity later in the standard workweek. This phenomenon is mainly due to a decreased energy on the part of the employee from working eight hours a day in a monotonous office environment for multiple days in a row.
A hybrid work model allows for a variation in the work environment which can help to reduce the late-week slump and allow employees to have more energy to get more things done.
Additionally, allowing a hybrid work model allows for employees to have more flexibility within their schedule to ensure that they have more time to enjoy what they enjoy most outside of work which can reduce the feeling of dread experienced by some with a 40 hour in-person only work week.
While the work from home aspect of a hybrid model might seem like it would suffer from a decrease in productivity, it could actually help workers to work more effectively. When employees are satisfied with their job and have a good work-life balance, they are typically more capable of accomplishing more tasks per unit time.
With a higher level of productivity, employees are able to get their tasks done during work hours which allows them the freedom to enjoy their off hours and a better work-life balance.
The hybrid model also caters to those individuals that thrive in a work environment and allows them the opportunity to be more productive when compared to a work from home solution. Productivity is a highly personal aspect of work and the hybrid model allows for both kinds of people to have what they need to work at their best.
While a strictly work from home model has its upsides, it does come with its fair share of downsides. One component is that video conferences sometimes cannot replicate a great working environment and team. The hybrid model allows for the social butterflies in the team to spread their wings and enjoy interacting with their coworkers and peers. A great work environment is one of the most important aspects of how an individual views their employment.
By allowing a flexible hybrid approach, employees retain a good group working environment while also affording them the luxuries that a work from home solution offers. This can result in higher job satisfaction which ultimately can improve one's work-life balance.
In summary, a hybrid work model is an ideal employment model that meshes the best of in-person and work from home models. While a hybrid model can be done in several different ways, they all can contribute to higher job satisfaction, productivity, and a better work-life balance.