Hybrid Working: Benefits and Challenges
Prior to the pandemic, remote working was a concept that many organisations were hesitant to introduce. However, its prevalence and popularity have significantly amplified since then. As the Covid-19 restrictions are now lifted, the vast majority of workers are hesitant to return to the office on a full-time basis and prefer the flexibility of combining both remote and office working – a concept referred to as hybrid working. This article will explore the benefits and challenges that hybrid working presents to individuals and organisations.
Why Is Hybrid Working So Popular?
Hybrid working offers individuals and organisations a few important benefits:
- Work-life Balance: The most reiterated benefits of the hybrid working model. When individuals work from home, employees save time in their day from not having to commute to work. They can use their breaks to do chores that they otherwise would struggle to find time for. Having this flexibility is also linked to increased work motivation .
- Job Satisfaction: Greater flexibility means higher job satisfaction. In a survey conducted by Ergotron, 88% of the 1000 respondents (employed full-time) agreed that their job satisfaction has improved after introducing hybrid work .
- Employee Efficiency and Productivity: As employees have the choice to work from home, they can work in a comfortable environment where they can concentrate and better organise their time. The increased motivation further improves their productivity .
- Cost Benefits: Hybrid working can be cost-effective. Employees save money from not having to commute to the workplace five days a week. Employers, on the other hand, can save money by allowing hot-desking in a smaller offices .
Hybrid Working: Lessons Learnt
So what changes are the benefits of hybrid working driving? A recent study on hybrid working found that 64% of the participants would prefer a hybrid work model, where they could work from the office a few days per week but also remotely . Moreover, a study by McKinsey suggests that more than two out of three employees who prefer hybrid models will look for other opportunities if they are asked to come to the office full time . This is further confirmed by the results from the CIPD survey in 2022 where 4% of the respondents had left a job in the past year specifically due to a lack of flexibility from the employer in terms of hybrid working. Additionally, 9% changed career paths due to a lack of flexible working options within their sector . All of those recent findings highlight an important shift in the work mindset of people – something that organisations need to be able to respond to.
Adapting to the Hybrid Word
There are different hybrid working models that organisations can introduce. According to the “Hybrid Work Compass,” there are five different forms of hybrid teams :
- Work in Presence: employees working remotely is an exception.
- Hybrid Light: the employees can work virtually but they should be spending most days in the office. Virtual work typically takes place on one day per week.
- Hybrid: employees can choose when to work remotely for several days during the week. However, working in the office remains the central workplace.
- Hybrid Remote: employees have the complete flexibility to choose between remote and office-based work. The office is used for personal exchange.
- Virtual Teams: employees work most of the time virtually and are encouraged to do so.
Employers can identify the hybrid working model that best suits the need of their business and employees. However, they need to also ensure that they are aware of the potential challenges they might experience and how they can overcome them.
Challenges of Hybrid Working
- Communication: In a hybrid world, most communications between individuals happen via virtual platforms. Information can be missed, misinterpreted, or not understood. If not handled appropriately, this can open the door for misunderstandings and even potential conflict. The majority of the miscommunication is said to occur due to the lack of clarity of roles and expectations. Therefore, leaders and colleagues need to communicate their expectations to each other whilst working remotely .
- Inclusion: The hybrid work model can create an uneven playing field and a possibility to intensify in-group vs out-group dynamics. This is reflected in the study by Yang et al (2022). The findings from the study showed employees spend greater time collaborating and communicating individually with whom they had closer relationships . This can affect group dynamics, as some individuals can feel excluded. This in turn can affect their motivation and performance. To overcome this challenge, leaders must prioritise team-building exercises, promote psychological safety and ensure employees receive the necessary wellbeing support .
- Employee Visibility: There is growing evidence suggesting that employee visibility is a challenge for hybrid workers . People who are in the office regularly get access to more information and development that helps them to advance in their career. Therefore, they are more likely to be promoted sooner than those who work remotely. This may impact on women in particular who may often be the person who has the most primary caring responsibilities so chooses to work from home more often. Therefore, leaders should ensure that all members of the team are receiving the fair development opportunities and the talent management polices incorporates the challenges of hybrid working.
How Can Impact Help You?
Whilst hybrid working has its benefits, introducing the right model and getting everyone on board can be a challenge. We at Impact Psychology for Business have successfully supported clients and their teams in times of change and transition. We are experienced in designing and delivering interventions on a group level, such as team development programmes, and individual level, such as development plans and executive coaching. Click here to find out more about how we can support you and your business.
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