The COVID-19 pandemic has upended just about every aspect of people’s lives worldwide. Societal weaknesses have been exposed and trends accelerated — and one of those trends is the “work-from-home” (WFH) model.
When workplaces around the world were forced to close, it became apparent that many jobs can be done quite well remotely. Once employers got past the initial growing pains of getting employees the needed equipment and adjusted to flexible schedules, people got used to the WFH model.
With vaccination numbers rising and restrictions lifting, some employers are working with their staff to either let them stay remote or institute a hybrid WFH model. We’ll go over what a hybrid WFH model is here.
According to a report from We Work Remotely, 76% of employees want to continue working from home after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. What some companies are choosing to do is offer a hybrid model.
Some big-name companies going with a hybrid model include Facebook, Salesforce, Amazon, and Google. Other companies like Spotify are allowing employees to work remotely as long as they’d like.
A hybrid model can work by splitting people into remote and on-site teams or by letting people work remotely a set number of days per week.
In the first approach, different companies designate certain employees or departments as remote. For example, your marketing team could be fully remote while your management team is fully in-house.
Remote employees might still have to come onsite in certain situations, like for important meetings where their employer wants everyone to be there in person. Some companies might also choose to have most of their staff remote, with only a bare minimum “skeleton crew” on-site.
In the second approach, employees have the flexibility to work from home a certain number of days, say three a week. Microsoft, for example, is letting employees decide to be up to 50% remote and use designated “touchdown” spaces if they need to come on-site.
Approaching remote work with a hybrid model comes with a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. We’ll explore the pros first.
The massive shift to remote work showed many people the benefits of a flexible schedule. And though some employers were against it at first, the WFH model was beneficial for them as well.
Having some employees designated remote means you can hire people from anywhere in the world to fill those roles. That exponentially expands an employer’s talent pool, making them more likely to attract and retain top talent. People working in multiple time zones also means round-the-clock coverage.
Having employees work from home also means lower overhead costs. With fewer people in the office, you’re using less energy and resources, which also benefits the environment. According to Global Workplace Analytics, employers can save up to $11,000 per year, per employee when that employee is remote at least some of the time.
Employees also save money when they work remotely. According to FlexJobs, an employment platform for remote workers, remote workers can save around $4,000 per year. That includes vehicle maintenance costs, parking fees, meals bought instead of made, and so on.
Remote work also prioritizes flexibility, offering people a better balance between professional and personal responsibilities. They can work at the times they’re most capable, which might not always be on a traditional 9-5 schedule.
Remote work also saves people tons of time they’d spend on the road commuting — often an hour or more in major urban centers — and lowers their stress level. Less stressed people are obviously happier and do their jobs more effectively.
Employees that work remotely get to choose their work environment as well as work hours. If it’s within their financial means, people can customize their workspaces for maximum comfort.
Remote work can also make it easier for people living with disabilities or who can’t work conventional hours to earn a living. They can take breaks when and how they need to without worrying what their manager will think.
In theory, a hybrid model can offer the best of both worlds, combining the flexibility of working from home with the structure and sociability of an office environment.
While the benefits of remote work are plentiful, there are some drawbacks. For one, it can be difficult if not impossible to fully separate one’s professional life from personal obligations like caring for children when working from home.
Some people might not have the resources to buy the computer and office equipment they need to do their jobs remotely on their own. A fast internet connection might also be hard to come by. Employers should know this going in and be prepared to support employees with the necessary equipment.
Family members may also have a hard time respecting the boundaries of remote workers, feeling as though the person working remotely is always available since they’re at home. Discussions of boundaries around work are often necessary.
There can be difficulties around perception with the hybrid model. Employees designated on-site might feel like they’re doing more because they’re “actually at work.” On-site employees might resent those who get the flexibility of working remotely.
Remote employees might feel less seen in the workplace because they may miss out on side conversations and other interactions outside of mandatory meetings. This might make them feel passed over for promotion opportunities, something that could be exacerbated if management is always on-site.
In order to make sure one group doesn't feel excluded, employers should draw up and implement a good hybrid WFH workplace plan.
It’s definitely possible to implement a hybrid WFH model as long as employers take the time to plan it out. Some measures that can mitigate the difficulties of a hybrid model include:
Pretty much any company that went remote during the early stages of the pandemic can use this model. That can be marketing, project management, customer service, accounting, or any number of other professions.
Whether people can’t come back to work because they’re caring for young children, or they just don’t feel COVID-19 has receded enough, a hybrid work environment can make space for all employees to continue working their own way.
If you’re thinking of going hybrid or staying fully remote post-COVID, you’ll need the right tools. Accelo offers multiple ways to boost your productivity and keep people connected while working remotely, including cloud-based project management software. Check out our website to see what Accelo can do for your business, and when you’re ready, reach out to schedule a free trial.