COVID-19 has brought the world a lot of new options. It’s not only remote work, but businesses now have the choice to go remote-first and not even lease office space. Another new option is the hybrid workplace, which allows employees to work from home and office. While some companies promise a return to an in-person-only workplace and others have gone fully remote, many remain in between. But will this opportunity last?
In this article, we describe what the hybrid workplace is. We also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the hybrid model.
What is the hybrid workplace?
The hybrid workplace allows employees to work from their homes and the office. 55% of employers who went remote due to the pandemic plan to continue a hybrid work model. Some companies provide complete freedom. This means that an employee can choose to work from home every day of the week. They could also choose to work at the office five days a week.
Some companies might limit the number of work-from-home or work-from-office days per week. This model is commonly referred to as “flex days”, which often offer the best of both worlds. It allows workers to get a few productivity days at their home office or whenever they want to skip the commute. Simultaneously, everyone is required to come in person at least once or twice a week, which provides colleagues time to interact, socialize, network, and hold meetings in person.
How the hybrid model works is bespoke to an individual organization. It ultimately depends on what the management team believes is best for its employees and the bottom dollar. That’s why it’s hard to answer whether the hybrid office will last. The model will last for some corporations and not others.
Benefits of a hybrid workplace
Widen your talent pool
A hybrid model is commonly seen as a benefit and can attract prospective employees. This lets a business widen its talent pool and become more competitive as an employer. Additionally, a hybrid workplace may be more attractive to someone who lives far from your office. Instead of dealing with a two- or three-hour daily commute, their commute may only occur two or three days a week with a hybrid workplace, meaning they won’t have to leave for a job that’s closer to home.
If a business is open to fully remote employees, they could hire from other countries, provinces, and areas. This significantly widens their talent pool to almost anyone in the world!
Provide employees with flexibility
Similarly, employees appreciate the flexibility that the hybrid workplace brings. Sometimes, an individual may prefer to work a day at home in pyjamas rather than get dressed and go to the office. Working from home could also let someone attend a dentist or doctor’s appointment more easily or simultaneously look after their children while finishing a project. Having a job that allows someone to do this ultimately means a lower turnover rate for a business.
As we continue to face a labour shortage in most of North America, the companies that offer flexibility will possibly stand out from those that don’t. In such a tough market for businesses, these benefits are a must-have.
Disadvantages of the hybrid model
Reduced sense of community
Without everyone at the office, it reduces a company’s sense of community. Part of a great job is rolling into a workplace to see a favourite coworker or catch up with a new hire on their top ten movies. But even a hybrid workplace reduces this comradery. Most obviously, everyone will see each other less often. On days when someone visits the office, half of the team may be working remotely. This could cause people to lose a sense of belonging and make resigning a lot easier.
In a recent KPMG survey, 66% of Canadians were satisfied with virtual work, but 63% wanted to return to a physical workplace. The 63% found working from home causes virtual fatigue and mental health, and social withdrawal. At the end of the day, humans aren’t meant to take four back-to-back ZOOM calls. We enjoy talking with people face to face, where we can more easily see body language and build rapport. This ultimately makes the hybrid workplace and remote work a lot more challenging.
The hybrid workplace has plenty of pros and cons. There’s no definitive answer whether it will last, as that answer lies with each organization.