MARKETING BLOGS: TECHNOLOGY
Five Hybrid Work Models to Consider
“Hybrid work represents the biggest shift to how we work
in our generation—it will require a new operating model,
spanning people, places, and processes.”
— Satya Nadella, Microsoft Chairman and CEO
Several expert sources agree that hybrid work is here to stay.
Prof Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University predicts that most US office workers will soon work an average of 2.5 days a week remotely, based on his extensive research in remote work trends in the US and abroad.
Hybrid works best for people doing computer-based roles they can do anywhere. That includes offices of all sizes and administrative workspaces in hospitals, courts, and factories. That kind of work is the largest sector in advanced economies.
Why hybrid work is here to stay
The primary reasons are:
About 20%-25% of all jobs in developed countries can now be done from home three to five days a week, mainly in computer-based office work.
It enables adaptability in a crisis.
It’s an excellent compromise between flexibility for workers and structured in-office time.
Feedback from workers shows that most people enjoy the flexibility of off-site/at-home work, which is less stressful and enables better concentration and productivity in individual tasks. However, most people feel isolated or disconnected from the company culture when they never meet work colleagues face-to-face. Also, in-office meetings are often better for creative collaboration and strategic meetings, where diverse minds can discuss issues or generate new ideas through direct interaction. A hybrid work model lets employees do both.
Gallup study: Pros and cons of hybrid work
Washington, DC-based analytics and advisory firm Gallup did a recent hybrid work study, which found that the advantages of a hybrid model for workers are:
improved work-life balance,
more efficient use of time,
freedom to choose work hours and location,
less work burnout, and
The study found that the significant disadvantages of hybrid work are:
not having the right tools—both in the office and at home,
feeling less connected to company culture,
less team collaboration and communication, and
more difficult coordination of people’s different schedules, tasks, and timelines.
The study said hybrid workers dealt with some disadvantages by maximizing their use of in-office days to connect with people, build relationships, and use in-office facilities and equipment more strategically.
Hybrid work is driving changes
Overall, Gallup, like Prof Bloom, predicts hybrid work schedules will become a norm at most US offices, to a greater or lesser degree, implying the need to revise or reinvent some work processes and technologies.
It may also mean planning new uses for office space and rethinking some management assumptions about what it means to “be productive.” A fundamental truth for the success of hybrid work is the shift from assessing productivity based on monitoring input processes and hours worked in the office to productivity based on outcomes delivered.
Creating a balanced, supportive, fair, and an inclusive workplace culture will also go a long way toward helping any hybrid policy succeed.
What is a hybrid work model?
In a hybrid work model, employees work for part of their time remotely and the remainder in the office.
Hybrid workers may work from home, in co-working spaces, or at the office. Team members may also move between locations depending on the work they need to accomplish and the people they may collaborate with. However, organizations will structure hybrid work differently according to their priorities.
Here are some emerging hybrid work models.
1. Flexible hybrid work model
Employees are free to choose their location and working hours based on their daily work priorities.
There may sometimes be limitations, such as mandatory office Mondays for face-to-face team meetings, but usually, employees have the choice. Office spaces may often use hot-desking—no fixed, designated desks for individuals, but open desks equipped with computers and other tools for anyone to use.
Most workers love such flexibility and show improved job satisfaction and productivity. However, team silos, workplace inequalities, and “ghost town” offices may result if you don't plan and manage it well.
Cisco uses this model. So do firms such as Airbnb, Asda, and many others, as tracked on the office search business Hubble.
2. Fixed hybrid work model
The employing organization determines the days and times employees work remotely or at the office.
American Express did this until early 2022, when it launched Amex Flex, letting people work in-office or at home or take a hybrid approach that does both. Most American Express workers currently work hybrid.
3. Office-first hybrid work model
Employees must stay in the office for most of the week, but have the flexibility to work off-site for one or two days a week.
Google is experimenting with this: most employees work in-office three days a week and work off-site the remaining two days. However, some predict it won’t last.
Other firms using this approach include Apple and Amazon. Apple, like Google, has workers in-office for three days a week, with the option of working remotely for two days.
4. Remote-first hybrid work model
Employees often work remotely, with some visits to the office or another co-working space for team building, training, and collaboration.
This model doesn’t simply allow remote work—it actively encourages it. The employing organization may not even own significant office space, requiring workers to meet in rented or leased co-working spaces, coffee shops, or home offices whenever they need to collaborate directly.
Remote-first firms are well-equipped with technology platforms and tools to support digital collaboration. Dropbox is an excellent example of a firm using a remote-first hybrid approach. Others include Adobe and Slack.
5. Partly remote hybrid work model
In this model, some teams in a company are fully remote, while other workers or departments in the same company are permanently office-bound.
This model lets firm's source non-local talent for positions that require individual work. However, there’s a danger of the workforce becoming heavily siloed, with remote workers often feeling like second-rate employees. So, the model should be implemented carefully to succeed.
Stripe is an example of a firm that uses this partly remote hybrid model
Tips from those who’ve done it
The software firm GitLab moved its 1,300-member workforce to become fully remote in 2014, so they have some tips for firms considering remote work options. GitLab VP of User Experience Christie Lenneville suggests that companies:
take a handbook-first approach to documentation and document everything,
hold remote open office hours,
record videos to support asynchronous communication, and
be intentional about informal communication.
If your organization is considering a hybrid work option, we hope we’ve given you some valuable models to consider. We leave you with a quote from George Penn of Gartner:
“Success in a hybrid work environment requires employers to move beyond viewing remote or hybrid environments as a temporary or short-term strategy and to treat it as an opportunity.”
— George Penn, Managing Vice President of Research and Advisory at Gartner
(This blog was researched and authored by Shereen Ann Ali and published on January 2023 for a US-based software company as part of the firm’s marketing efforts.)