Cloud-based systems connect team members who are returning to the office, working from home, or doing both.
It’s safe to say that office culture was forever altered by the pandemic. When workers across the country “went home” in 2020, few could have forecasted that 16 months later, managers and team members across nearly every business sector are still working out the best working model that will suit their business. We are still hearing the philosophical work-life balance debate, but also more practical questions regarding technology and how to efficiently manage a staff of employees that exist in two places at once—the traditional office, and the home office.
What Is The Hybrid Work Model?
At Dynamics Telephony, we have been working full time or partially from home from the beginning. This means we already had systems in place to accommodate full-scale remote access for all of our employees. We do have monthly on-site meeting (more if required) but having both in-office and home-based options means we are capable of handling anything that comes our way.
In one way or another, companies have been engaged in the traditional office vs. home office debate long before the pandemic. Whether to save on overhead costs related to maintaining an office or to cast a wider net for potential employees, companies like ours decided to implement remote access more than a decade ago. Were there challenges? Sure, but it left us in an enviable position when work-from-home became mandatory.
And now that things seem to be trending in a positive direction, some enterprises have determined that the hybrid workplace model may be the best route, even after the pandemic fully wanes. Designed to support both in-office and remote employees, the hybrid workplace model consists of three variations: Remote-first, office-occasional, and office-first.
Office-first: This model maintains the office as the main place where employees work. While remote work is allowed and employees are encouraged to utilize the option as needed, the office is the standard. Here you’ll see leadership typically staying in the office, while some remote talent is recruited as needed.
Office-occasional: The true hybrid model, office-occasional encourages or requires employees to come into the office at least a few days a week and work from home the remaining days. The in-office or remote days could be determined by the employee, or via a company-wide mandate. Of course, with this model, most or all employees must live locally as they’ll be dividing their time between home and the office.
Remote-first: Here’s the model that most entities began using in the late part of 2020. In remote-first, businesses keep their office spaces open, but don’t expect employees to trek in everyday. Instead, the office is a resource or a headquarters—a space where employees choose to work, take meetings, meet clients, or spend quality time with colleagues.
The hybrid work model that’s right for your organization depends entirely on your business, management’s preference, employee capability and flexibility—but perhaps most importantly, your technological infrastructure.
Should You Implement A Hybrid Work Model?
Some of you are probably way ahead of the work-from-home curve at this stage. For anyone else that needs a little more convincing, perhaps consider how businesses are trending when it comes to enterprises and other organizations that traditionally work out of an office.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently published the incredibly insightful which gives a window into the thoughts and concerns of both employees and executives. Some of their findings include:
Organizations are overwhelmingly positive about hybrid models, with 83 percent of employers saying the shift to remote work has been successful for their company.
The office as we know it will never be the same. Less than one-in-five executives say they will return to the office as it was before the pandemic. However, 87 percent of employees said the office is important for collaborating with team members and building relationships—their top-rated needs for the office.
There’s a bit of a tug of war between employers and employees regaining days in and out of office, with 55 percent of employees preferring at least three days a week remote as opposed to 68 percent of executives believing employees should be in the office at least three days a week.
Employers will have to recognize that workforce needs and desires have shifted due to the pandemic. They need to understand the concerns of their employees and work with them to build policies and approaches. The return to work will be effective only when employees are on board. If they’re not, companies should be prepared to lose talent.
The level of commitment you decide to put into a hybrid work model depends on more than the above factors. There are also infrastructure and technological needs that you’ll need to consider. If your team cannot communicate clearly with one another or with prospective clients and customers, your company won’t even have a chance to tackle the more abstract reasons for presenting employees with a work-from-home option.