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Hybrid Working Model: How It Can Make Your Employees Happier
What is a Hybrid Working Model?
A hybrid working model is a work style that encourages employees to blend working from different locations, ranging from; home, on-the-go or in the office. According to a BCG study, 37% of companies expect that more than 25% of their employees will work in a hybrid mode.
Within this structure, organisations may have teams or departments split between working remotely and working in-office. They may even consist of designating certain positions or leadership roles as fully-remote or in-house across all departments.
Once an employee gets classified as WFH, they’ll spend most days remote (with the potential for occasional office visits). In-office teams will do the opposite.
Most importantly, organisations adopting the hybrid-style approach should listen to their employees, and act on what working situation will work best for them. In fact, from our recent Censuswide survey, it’s reported that 76% of office workers do not wish to return to the office full time - all the more reason to implement a hybrid working arrangement.
What are the Different Types of Hybrid Work Models?
If you're thinking about adopting this working style, it's important to understand the different variations of the hybrid working model to implement the best approach for your employees.
Many leaders are choosing to go remote-first. This is a strategy that makes working remotely the primary option for most or all employees, with a few exceptions. Most organisations will keep their office as a space for their employees to work from if needed, however some won't extend the same flexibility to every employee. This means that they may require some employees to continue coming to the office if their job requires their physical presence.
Some businesses may set up a hybrid model described as office-occasional. The idea is that the employees go into the office a few times a week, using the office to blend both face-to-face collaboration and solo work. Depending on the place of work or company needs, this could be quite a flexible policy (employees can go into the office on the days they please) or it could involve a stricter routine where employees are given set days to work at the office.
Another type of hybrid working is to place more emphasis on an office-first approach. In this scenario employees are able to work remotely and in the office, but keep the office as a primary place of working. This approach is popular if the entire leadership team is in the office and the rest of the workforce are mostly remote, with the exception of employees coming in for specific meetings or catch-ups.
How a Hybrid Working Model could make your employees happier
Of course, the most important reason for a company to implement a hybrid working system should be, to make your employees happier. One study found that happier employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees, making happiness a fundamental requirement of any business.
Here are our top 3 reasons on how a hybrid working model could make your employees happier:
1. Improved Work-Life Balance
A work-life balance is vital to any healthy working environment. Maintaining this balance is so important for an employee's mental and physical health. Not only that, but it can massively improve your employees’ productivity and performance.
Businesses that gain a reputation for encouraging and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are certainly more attractive to prospective employees. A hybrid work model is perfect for achieving this balance by providing employees with the option to work both remotely and in-office.
With a hybrid model, your workforce can better balance their personal lives with their work responsibilities. When working remotely, employees can structure their day to use breaks for essential tasks, whether that be attending a doctors appointment or dropping their kids off at school. This allows them to stay on top of their day-to-day life, which can lead to improved focus and productivity when completing their work tasks.
2. Better Work Relationships and Collaboration
Many companies achieve better results by having face-to-face meetings in the same space, even if this can be done just part of the time. When all employees work from home and only have meetings virtually, it can make it harder for your organisation to innovate and thrive.
Some may say the lack of face-to-face interaction can hinder work relationships. Whereas, real in-person contact allows employees to get closer with their colleagues and produces deeper bonds, trust, engagement and loyalty - all of which lead to enhanced collaboration and innovation.
Implementing a hybrid work model allows staff to gain the best of both worlds. Employees can experience the benefits of collaborative, in-person relationships while also having the chance to work remotely on tasks that require a deep individual focus, ultimately making employees happier at work.
3. Improved Employer-Employee Trust
One of the most important aspects of happiness in the workplace is the relationship between an employee and their employer. A hybrid working model helps employees gain trust of their employers by allowing them to show that they are as productive, working remotely, as well as in the office.
The flexibility of a hybrid model can also improve workforce loyalty by helping employees feel empowered by leadership having trust in them to complete their work on their own terms. This allows them to have a greater respect for the whole organisation, and management benefits from not having to micro-manage a team or constantly check in to see if the tasks are being completed.
Potential Problems with a Hybrid Working Model
Although there are many advantages to a hybrid working model, it can also come with its own set of challenges. These can be barriers to success in this type of infrastructure.
Remote employees may feel isolated, left out, and disconnected from the in-house team. Communication also requires extra effort. All contact with remote team members occurs virtually via messenger, video calls, emails, etc. This requires extensive communication skills on both ends and a commitment to check-in, which is more challenging than building relationships in-office.
One of the most challenging aspects in a hybrid working model is to create consistency for both in-house and remote workers. Sometimes this consistency is broken when training and onboarding is put on the back-burner for remote employees.
Remote work means that far too many new hires have to find their own way, as they work to understand and become part of the workplace culture. This can be detrimental to the onboarding process. In fact, in a survey of 1,100 remote employees, 52% reported not feeling a strong relationship with their co-workers.
In-office employees may receive faster promotions or more opportunities simply because managers can interact with them and see what they’re up to on a daily basis. Remote workers may not get enough face time with leadership and key decision-makers to prove they deserve the chance to climb the ladder, which can lead to unfair opportunities and advantages.
Fortunately, there are fewer downsides to hybrid working than there are opportunities. And they are all fairly easy to overcome with the right planning and resources.
Overcoming the Hybrid Work Model’s Problems
Focus on structured communication
Once you’ve decided which hybrid structure your company is going to use, your focus should move to how your employees are going to work together and communicate with each other to reinforce the new working model. Your means of communication should allow remote and in-office employees to communicate with each other effectively, ensuring that everyone stays in the loop of any company announcements.
One of the best ways to connect your workforce from anywhere is to implement a company intranet. Within this digital workplace, employees are able to connect with team members via messenger, keep up with important company news or updates and have one central location to build working relations.
Oak’s messenger is designed to improve employee engagement and workplace productivity, allowing users to send instant messages to one specific person or a whole group. Perfect for department communication, remote workers and general social interaction between employees.
Design an effective onboarding strategy
Want happy employees? If you do, it’s essential that you put together a seamless and easy onboarding strategy for new employees. For example, if you want a remote-first company in the long-term, then you should switch to a remote-only onboarding experience for all your employees, even those who will be coming into the office. New online platforms allow you to provide everything from a new hire learner journey to video-based introductions from the CEO and other senior staff, in a consistent way but delivered digitally and at the learner’s preferred pace.
Again, using a company intranet allows you to make use of your features by making new employees feel welcome and supported. Having an ‘Employee Profiles’ feature in your intranet helps onboard new employees and supports them in getting to know the company better by being able to access everyone from different departments in an efficient manner. This also helps users to get to know each other on a more personal level.
Develop leadership relationships
To avoid remote workers being left behind, it's important to develop relationships and to try meeting with your remote team members regularly. You could schedule weekly video one-on-ones. If you just execute and focus on things that must be done, you might become a faceless, distant manager, not a hands-on leader. Strong relationships and trust come from getting to know an employee as a whole person.
Why Hybrid Working is Here to Stay
The hybrid way of working is certainly making employees happier and more productive. From our recent Census survey, over two thirds (68%) of Brits agree that UK businesses should give workers the choice to work from home or in an office where possible and of those, 41% say that it would improve the population’s mental health.
With some planning and preparation, it’s absolutely possible to make a hybrid model work for your employees and help your business run more effectively. The suggestions in this blog will help you improve employee connectivity and wellbeing, despite working miles apart.
Oak Engage Survey:
The research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Oak Engage, with 2,016 participants from a nationally representative sample of UK adults aged 16+ across the UK between 26/03/2021 - 29/03/2021.
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