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How to Make Hybrid Model Work

A hybrid work model is when a company combines remote and office-based employees. The benefits can include lower costs and higher productivity, but it can...

Author Rachel McQuigge of WFHomie and GoCo

by Rachel McQuigge - November 9th, 2022

A hybrid work model is when a company combines remote and office-based employees. The benefits can include lower costs and higher productivity, but it can be challenging to make it work well. Here are some tips for making your organization's hybrid model function smoothly:

What is a Hybrid Model?

A hybrid model is a work environment that combines remote employees and office workers. These hybrid teams are employees who work from their home offices, public locations like coffee shops, or some combination of both. This model provides flexibility for both employers and employees. Employees can choose where to work daily (or even hour to hour), and employers receive access to highly skilled workers with high motivation levels.

Becoming a Hybrid Company: Benefits and Challenges

Some companies have embraced the concept of remote work. As a result, they see benefits in terms of productivity and employee happiness. But some challenges come with this kind of setup.

People who work remotely have much more freedom over their schedules and can often set their hours. This flexibility means they can usually finish their work faster because an office schedule does not hinder them. 

Remote workers also tend to be happier than those who work in an office setting because they don't have to deal with distractions in office life. Future Forum reported that remote and hybrid workers were 52% more likely to report their office culture improving over the last two years. These workers cited their flexible work policy as the reason for this improvement in culture. Flexibility lets employees stay focused on what matters most: getting their tasks done so they can go home at a reasonable hour!

Despite all these benefits, some challenges come with working remotely as well. One of the most significant issues is communication and management — it can be difficult for managers to build relationships with their employees. If not appropriately implemented, communication asynchronously can be a challenge. However, these challenges can become strengths with little effort and proper planning. 

Benefits of a Hybrid Model

There are many benefits of hybrid work. A proper hybrid space is a place where you can offer employees the best of both worlds. You can increase employee productivity, hire the best talent, and better accommodate employees with disabilities, all while saving money on overhead costs by mixing a remote team with an in-office one and sharing resources like parking spaces, desks, and printers.

Here are some key benefits of hybrid work:

  1. Increased employee productivity.

  2. Hire the best talent.

  3. Better accommodate employees with disabilities.

  4. Save money on overhead costs.

Overall, you'll have a more engaged workforce that's happy to come to work because they can telecommute once in a while or work flexible hours during the week if they want to—or both!

Challenges of a Hybrid Model

One of the main challenges of a hybrid model is that it can be difficult to manage and communicate remotely. Time differences, isolation, lack of communication, and in-person managerial bias all make remote work challenging.

Challenges when working remotely, including

  1. Managing expectations between teams

  2. Make sure you have clear goals for your team and individual employees so you know where to direct their efforts.

  3. Ensuring everyone has access to the same resources

  4. Efficient communication and collaboration

How to Make a Hybrid Model Work for Your Organization

Hybrid workplaces are both challenging and rewarding. In our experience, to do hybrid work, you must create a culture of communication, collaboration, and respect. Here are some tips:

Ask employees to be honest about their feelings. It may seem obvious, but I think it's worth stating explicitly—we all know that people will say what they think if they feel like they can do so without fear of retribution. Make sure everyone knows that their input is welcome and encouraged! Encourage communication. Sometimes the best way to communicate is face-to-face—especially when emotions are high or quick decisions are necessary. Set up a process for feedback and make sure it's easily accessible. Create a culture of collaboration, not competition. This one is key! In most organizations, there's an inherent sense of competition between teams because limited resources are available for each team member (e.g., pay raises and promotions). Everyone wants their department or group to succeed more than any other group in the organization because that success will bring them

1. Create Separate but Equal Benefits for Employees

When implementing a hybrid model, it's essential to ensure that employees understand the two types of work environments considered equally. To ensure this clarity, you will need to provide benefits (and, in some cases, more) for employees who work from home and in an office.

Consider sending WFH employees unique goodie bags with snacks and beverages when they log into their computers from home. Hold virtual happy hours and company mixers so your remote workers can meet each other face-to-face without having to travel back into the office space each day or week. Give each team member weekly one-on-one time with their managers so they feel supported no matter where they work at any given moment (in person or not).

Survey your employees frequently to ensure you understand their wants and needs so you can meet them. Understanding your employees' risk and incentive structure is the key to unlocking their full productivity potential. An easy way to do this is to implement Pulse Surveys.

2. Build a Virtual Community that Works for Everyone

The two most important things to establish when making hybrid model works are an inclusive culture and an established process for communicating with each of your teams.

Communicating with everyone involved in your business is vital to keeping it running smoothly, but it can be difficult if there isn't a straightforward way. You should consider using tools like Slack or Zoom to communicate with remote workers and Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger for team meetings. It would help to use a shared calendar so everyone knows what's happening with every task.

3. Switch to an Asynchronous Communication Style

How do you switch to an asynchronous communication style?

First, don't be afraid to use the tools at your disposal. If your company uses Slack for general communication, use it for conversations. Maybe try adding a channel where people can share their completed tasks so that others can see their accomplishments. Introducing a recognition channel is also a great way to incentivize more communication via Slack!

Maybe there's another tool that suits your team better than Slack. Perhaps it's Teams, Discord, or whatever else you want to try out as long as it gets results—and if it doesn't work out, move on and try something else! Just because one tool doesn't work well for a team doesn't mean none will work well either since every organization is different; finding the right one could take some trial and error before each member finds their groove with another group's workflow.

4. Adjust How You Conduct Meetings

For hybrid meetings, ensuring that your team members are in a suitable physical space is the most important thing. You don't want them to be in their offices or cubicles—they need a shared room. If they don't have one, you can use video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Meet to create one remotely.

In hybrid workspaces, in particular, It is crucial for the people who are physically present at the meeting to know that they should not expect a traditional meeting flow from a hybrid setting. Instead of having all participants present for an hour and then moving on to lunch, follow up with each other immediately after the meeting via email or chat apps like Slack. This way, everyone remains on the same page and understands the action items without relying on synchronous communications.

Is it time to consider a hybrid work model? 

If you're considering a hybrid WFH model, there are plenty of benefits to remember. You can boost employee engagement and productivity, allow teams to work together more effectively, and inspire creativity with this flexible work environment. But some challenges come with the territory—such as finding the right balance between collaboration and privacy—and it takes some adjustment from both sides before employees are comfortable with the new way of working.