Since the closing months of 2019 and up to the present, it seems the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed the workplace. At the height of the outbreak, remote work or work from home (WFH) was allowed to prevent many businesses from shutting down and prevent the global economy from total collapse.
With this change came two realizations. The first is that 36 to 37 percent of work that was previously done in offices can be realistically performed at home as well. The second realization is that, having personally experienced WFH, 65 percent of employees want to continue working from home permanently. This figure is taken from a survey conducted by FlexJobs.
However, in this same survey, 31 percent of employees prefer a hybrid work environment. While it is true that there is a greater clamor for permanent WFH, both employers and employees are gradually understanding that the better work solution to the pandemic crisis is a hybrid work from home model.
What Is The Hybrid Work From Home Model?
The hybrid work from home model involves letting employees spend a number of days in a work week at the office and the remainder at home or in another outside location.
Basically, hybrid allows for three main benefits from remote and in-office work. These benefits are structured work schedule and sociability (more on this later) of on-site work and the flexibility of remote work.
Let us give you the most common example of a hybrid work from home model. Here, employees are asked to go to the office for on-site meetings and team collaboration. Work and tasks requiring greater focus and attention are set on days when the employee is WFH. Many businesses actually do not schedule video conferences when their employees are WFH and instead set them as in-person meetings when they are on-site.
Three Hybrid Work Model Structures
There are three main hybrid work model structures that are being employed today:
1) Remote First – Here, the company goes fully remote, with the notable exception of employees whose jobs require them to be physically present on-site.
2) Office-Occasional – Our example above characterizes this model. The current set-up for this model has employees splitting their time, going to the office first at the start of the day for meetings and/or to meet with co-workers and then later return home or go to a co-working space for individual and concentrated work.
3) Office-First, Remote Allowed – In this model, the office is designated as the primary working place for both on-site and remote workers. This model is done especially if the company’s C-suite are all working in the main office.
Key Statistics for Hybrid Work From Home
Recent surveys have shown that more employers and employees are keen to the idea of hybrid WFH than permanent WFH.
One key survey was conducted by WeWork and here are the main takeaways from their report:
- 79 percent of C-suite (higher echelon executives like Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, etc., all of which start with the letter “C”) plan to allow their employees to divide their time between corporate offices and remote working, if their job allows it.
- 53 percent of employees want to continue working in the office 3 days or fewer per week after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- These same respondents said that they would want to work in a physical office for less than 5 hours per day.
- 75 percent of C-suite are willing to grant their employees a stipend to WFH or in a co-working space
- 64 percent of employees are willing to pay out of their own pocket for access to an office space and facilities. 80 percent of this figure are employees with an annual income of $200,000 annually. Take note that 49 percent of employees in the lower income brackets ($30,000 to $60,000 yearly) are willing to pay some of their own money for office space access.
- Perhaps the most surprising finding in this survey is that 75 percent of employees are willing to give up at least one workplace or benefit or perk – including cash bonuses and healthcare benefits – for the freedom to choose their workplace environment.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Hybrid Work From Home Model
A number of benefits have been cited with the hybrid work from home model. This would include the following:
- Higher employee satisfaction, engagement, and the greater chance of their recommended the company to others
- Higher employee productivity
- Greater control and flexibility over their work schedule
- Less stress
- Lesser feelings of isolation and loneliness because employees still get to physically interact with their employers and co-workers
- Savings due to the elimination of the daily commute, the wearing of a standard uniform/coat and tie (including dry cleaning), and daycare services for kids
- Potential savings on real estate costs due to the reduction of office space (limited number of employees) and possible earnings with the renting of excess office space to other companies
- Gives employers the opportunity to monitor employee performance both on-site and remotely
There are also certain drawbacks with the hybrid work from home model, which are as follows:
- Difficulty in managing time and focus while doing remote work
- Difficulty in adjusting to a daily routine that involves traveling to and working in one or more locations
- Numerous distractions in the home which can affect productivity
- Fear that on-site employees will have an edge over remote workers in terms of pay and promotion
- Potential for miscommunication and conflicts with the use of digital communication
Some of these drawbacks are already being addressed through innovative online communication involving leadership and their teams, so that no single employee is left out. There is also the call to recognize individual achievements through frequent monitoring technologically and by human managers so that the right employees – whether on-site or remote – can be given the recognition and promotion that they deserve.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still far from over, a permanent WFH may not be the solution for businesses that require the on-site presence of some or most of their employees. Even this model has its disadvantages in the form of home distractions, isolation, inability to access key documents and others that can only be obtained from the office, and employer mistrust in their remote employees’ work performance.
A hybrid work from home model can address these issues. With many companies already pursuing a hybrid setup in their offices, all that is needed is the strict implementation of health and safety measures so that both employers and employees can work productively anytime, anyplace, whether in the office, at home, or in a designated co-working space.
Indeed, hybrid work from home model is the way of the future!