The post-pandemic office: A look at the hybrid work model

As we move toward some sense of normalcy – the question on everyone’s mind is whether we’ll return to the office or continue to work remotely. Many employers are urging a return to the office full time – many employees, however, want to keep working remotely.

The clash is understandable. The initial transition to remote work in 2020 wasn’t smooth for everyone. Employers are concerned about falling productivity, and they’re worried about what remote work is doing to employees’ mental health.

Not all employees want to work remotely. Some people miss the office and are looking forward to getting out of their houses. They want better work-life separation. Others, of course, believe they do their best work when they’re given the flexibility remote work allows, and they’ve found better work-life balance over the last year or so.

Instead of an either or solution, some employers are looking at the hybrid work model.

What is the hybrid work model?

Tech giants like Google and IBM kept their offices closed through 2020. Now, with vaccination rates on the rise, these companies are looking to reopen their offices to employees in the fall.

Both Google and IBM, though, have announced that they’ll be using a hybrid model. Google estimated that about 20 per cent of their employees would remain permanently remote. The majority, however, would split time between the office and remote work.

Google has announced their hybrid model will feature 60 per cent of their employees working in the office three times per week, with the remaining two days being remote from the employee’s location of choice. The search engine giant has also given employees more days to work anywhere other than their main office, and they’re allowing some employees to choose an office location that better accommodates their commute, living arrangements, and so on.

IBM similarly predicted about a fifth of their workforce would remain permanently remote. The remainder would adopt the hybrid model, working remotely at least some of the time.

What are the advantages of the hybrid work model?

The hybrid model allows employees more flexibility. Many people discovered that they had more time and more flexibility in their schedules when they started working remotely. It also meant they found better work-life balance, since they had more time to manage other commitments.

Remote work can offer some serious productivity benefits as well. It does also have a dark side, which employers need to be careful of. Remote work can be isolating, as evidenced by the fact that most employees actually support a hybrid model. Many say they miss the social aspects of the office, and they supported being in the office to perform specific, team-related functions.

Employees support remote work

That said, employees are reluctant to give up the benefits of remote work. This can include schedule flexibility and saving time by not having to commute every day.

You’ll want to carefully consider roles that may be a good fit for remote work. Some roles could certainly be completed remotely, but you may still want to invite employees to come to the office once a week or a few times a month. That can help them combat the isolation of remote work, while helping them feel like they’re part of the team.

It also allows team members to manage their work-life balance, and it could even support employees with disabilities more readily. Keep in mind that not every employee or every role is a fit for remote work. Some tasks are easier to accomplish in the office, and some people thrive in the office environment.

A hybrid work model can help you assist everyone in achieving more work-life balance and, in turn, it can help you make your business more productive!