What are the Pros and Cons of the Hybrid Work Model?
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced many organizations to shift their operations online and employees worked remotely, many are grappling with the decision to either come back to the office or stay remote. A new option—the hybrid schedule—has emerged. Find out why some employers are implementing this approach to operations and learn about the pros and cons of hybrid work.
What is a Hybrid Work Schedule?
There are different approaches to hybrid work schedules, but generally it refers to employees working remotely a few days a week and in-person a few days a week. It’s an option that came into the spotlight after COVID-19 forced offices to operate remotely—and some managers and employees realized that permanent remote work options might actually be beneficial for their organizations after all.
As the pandemic winds down due to the widespread availability of vaccines, some employees don’t actually want to go back to the office. Others are eager to return to a sense of normalcy and work in person with coworkers again. This leaves HR teams and employers with a tricky decision to make—go back into the office in person? Move to all-remote operations? Or find a middle ground with a hybrid schedule?
Major companies such as Reddit, Microsoft, and Salesforce have already made the decision to switch to hybrid or flexible work models, giving employees the opportunity to work from home, the office, or a combination of the two. Even the White House recently announced that some federal employees will have the option of hybrid work.
According to a 2021 study by Accenture called “The Future of Work,” 83% of over 9,000 workers reported that they prefer the hybrid work model, where they can work remotely at least part of the time. The study went on to emphasize that leaders shouldn’t just focus on the location of work, but whether or not employees have the appropriate resources—like job autonomy and supportive leadership—to be productive and healthy from anywhere.
A hybrid schedule might seem like the right move for your organization to appease all employees, but it’s worth taking a good look at some of the pros and cons of each:
Pros of Hybrid Work
- Flexibility for Employees: With hybrid work, employees get to enjoy the best of both worlds, including the ease of some days at home and the face time with coworkers and managers in the office. With the option to work from home on certain days, employees have more flexibility-related perks, like being able to schedule home repairs and save commuting time and costs. The hybrid schedule is accommodating for both employees who like to work from home and employees who like to get work done in an office setting.
- Less Office Costs: Everything from energy to office supplies, less people in the office means less resources are used. Additionally, if your office strategizes and staggers employee schedules, the organization may be able to downsize the office location.
- More Inclusive Workforce: For employees that suffer from health issues such as chronic pain, IBS, and more, working from home allows them more comfort during health flare-ups. Likewise, hybrid work options can help organizations be more inclusive toward job candidates and employees with disabilities. Forbes noted that commuting to work can prove to be a major barrier for employees with disabilities, stating, “What might be a simple trip crosstown for an able-bodied person can be a major challenge for individuals with mobility limitations due to mental, physical, or visual impairments.”
Cons of Hybrid Work
- Scheduling Challenges: As a workforce transitions to hybrid operations, employers can expect some organizational challenges. For example, which teams come in on what days of the week? Where will everyone sit? Will employees share workstations, and if so, will they be cleaned regularly?
- Meeting Spaces: After more than a year of virtual meetings, employers will want to decide which meetings will resume in-person, while some might stay virtual or not happen altogether. This could profoundly impact communication between teams who are working in the office and teams who are working remotely. Additionally, if office space has changed, employers will want to make sure there are still enough meeting rooms and private meeting spaces that can accommodate groups and technology needed to include remote workers.
- Increased Manager Responsibility: Managing employees who operate under two different types of work structures at the same time can be challenging, especially in the beginning. This includes knowing which employees come in on what days, how to maintain performance management while employees are physically in the office as well as outside of the office, and how to best communicate with all team members.
- Company Culture Complications: It's sometimes easier for organizations to maintain and communicate company culture when all employees are working in the same place. With a mix of employees working remotely and in the office, it's more complicated to do so, but not impossible. This is where communication and an effective Culture Guide are essential to maintaining company culture.