When all non-essential workers shifted to remote work last year, many employees thoroughly enjoyed the extra time at home. With our commutes gone, we had more time to spend with our families and for self-care.
There was finally time to work out or read that book sitting on our nightstand. We saved money too, as our need for gas, dry cleaning and eating out all but disappeared.
But then the honeymoon ended. All of a sudden, we found ourselves wishing for just a few minutes away from our kids or spouse. The workday seemed to drag on forever as the lines between work and home blurred. Depression and mental anxiety set in as we longed for the social interaction we all need and crave as human beings.
As fully remote work begins to phase out for many, the new norm is hybrid―the flexibility to mix up our workdays between home, the office and anywhere in between. The question now is: Does hybrid have the legs to become the true future of work or will it (like its remote sibling) become a temporary, fleeting solution?
We think hybrid is here to stay, and we have plenty of data that shows it’s a long-lasting trend. Here are three reasons why and three tips on how to make sure your business is ready for the long haul.
Three Reasons Hybrid Is the New Norm
1. Employees Prefer the Hybrid Approach:
When polled, the majority of employees said they prefer the flexibility that comes with the hybrid model. But just how badly do they want it? One survey found a resounding 75% of workers would be willing to give up at least one benefit or perk in exchange for the freedom to choose where they work.
Additionally, more than 25% of employees would be willing to part with significant benefits such as cash bonuses and healthcare benefits in order to have this flexibility.
2. The C-Suite Is Committed:
Executives are also on board with hybrid, with 79% of the C-suite reporting they plan on letting employees split their time between remote locations and corporate offices if it fits their job role. More than three-fourths (76%) of execs are also likely to issue a stipend to employees who work from home or a co-working space.
3. It’s Better for Business:
Since the majority of employees want the hybrid work model to stay, it follows that companies offering this flexibility will benefit from higher employee engagement. More engaged employees have a positive impact on business performance.
A recent Gallup analysis compared companies in the top quartile for engagement with those in the bottom quartile. Businesses ranked in the top for employee engagement saw gains in profitability (23%), customer loyalty (10%), sales productivity (18%), overall employee well-being (66%), quality (41%) and lower absenteeism (81%) when compared to those with the lowest employee engagement.
Three Ways to Keep Hybrid Workers Happy
With all signs pointing to hybrid becoming a long-term solution well past the honeymoon phase, businesses need to start adapting now to make sure they can keep hybrid workers happily humming along for years to come. It all comes down to the three Cs: culture, communications and collaboration.
1. Create a Hybrid-Friendly Culture:
It may be hard to predict exactly the right culture required to fully support a thriving hybrid environment, but smart businesses will begin to make changes now and then adjust as needed.
First and foremost, the culture must be focused around choice: the ability to choose where (and, in some cases, when) employees work. The mindset of working nine to five sitting in a cubicle should be cast aside.
If a team member is more productive working from six in the morning to two in the afternoon on remote days, why not allow it? When employees have support from the top ranks to take ownership of how they work, you’ll find in most cases work gets done faster (and to a higher level of quality).
2. Provide the Necessary Tools for Communications:
Executives are already planning to invest in hybrid work. Wisely, the top area in which they plan to invest is tools for virtual collaboration, with 72% of executives stating as much in PWC’s US Remote Work Survey.
Team workspaces, real-time instant messaging and desktop sharing keep employees connected whether they’re at home, in the office or a local coffee shop. Be sure to look for communications technology that offers a single experience across multiple devices, so it’s easy for employees to switch between work environments without any hassle.
3. Collaborate to Stay One Step Ahead:
Hybrid is uncharted territory for many employees and managers. The best way to ensure your business can quickly adapt to the changing needs of all staff is to encourage collaboration at all times.
Fortunately, your communications technology can help you accomplish this with voice, video and chat capabilities to keep everyone connected. A flexible and scalable solution gives companies the agility needed to implement changes on-the-fly, so you can rest assured you can make hybrid work today and well into the future.
Companies may not have a crystal ball to predict what the workplace will look like in five years, but the data strongly suggests all signs point to hybrid.
Make the right investments now in the culture and communications technology needed to become a leader and reap the benefits of a happy and healthy hybrid home for your employees.