After almost two years of working from home, employees are now returning to the office, with many others expecting to arrive back soon.
Our time away from offices has shown us a new way to look at the operational structure of companies. When lockdown restrictions began to take effect and workers were told to convert their living rooms into offices, work from home became the new normal. While most were reluctant to adapt to it, soon, both employees and employers did see the benefits of it.
Besides being highly cost-efficient to businesses, working from home improved employee productivity and enhanced work efficiency.
Moreover, with technologies like cloud communications, remote work became a go-to option for several industries across the world and why not. The cloud offers better speed, reliability, and security.
In fact, multinational companies, like LinkedIn, have already allowed employees to choose between remote working or working from offices, ushering in the new age of hybrid working.
So, what is this new model of work? Will it be sufficient to garner the same level of productivity from employees? Are hybrid work systems becoming the new normal?
What is hybrid remote working?
As the pandemic dragged on, employees became comfortable with a remote working environment. Even managers, who might have initially dismissed the new normal, began to see the ease of working remotely.
Before we analyse the pros and cons of a hybrid working environment, we should first understand what a hybrid work system entails.
A hybrid system is built on the foundations of flexible work. Managers develop a mix of remote and in-office working schedules, allowing employees to choose from the two.
Hybrid systems come in all shapes and sizes. Every company, every department within that company, can decide on a different approach to hybrid systems. The pandemic has proved that some teams can work from home with complete ease, while others might require visiting the office spaces.
The best of both worlds
Remote work found its way in our daily lives. However, as worldwide cases began to dip and a section of the employees became eager to return to their offices, companies began to work out new forms of models.
While remote working was the rage in 2020, 2021 saw the conversation shift to hybrid systems—a mixture of remote and office-based teams.
Put simply, the current times may just well be a transitional phase.
As companies try to return to normal, building upon the benefits understood during the pandemic would be foolish. Thus, let us make a case for the benefits of a hybrid working system in a world without a pandemic:
Increase in productivity
Hybrid models are seen with an eye of scepticism by managers, just like remote working was in its initial days.
Managers believe that offering choices to employees about their preferred method of working can result in decreased productivity of individuals as well as the team.
However, research by Microsoft says that 82% of companies boast of productivity at par with pre-pandemic levels. This is often attributed to the flexibility that remote workers have.
They choose their working hours, allowing them to focus on tasks when they are at peak productivity. Cutting down on commute times also has significant mental health benefits.
With remote working reaching the same levels of productivity, a hybrid system is bound to enhance the work structure at companies. Allowing employees to pick their in-office work days will help them prioritise their workload and achieve the assigned goals.
Safety and security
While cases have started to decline globally, and vaccines are now readily available in all countries, the world is still fighting the virus. The constant threat of the disease still has a lot of people worried about their health.
A hybrid system, therefore, offers people the security of their job from their homes, with the occasional office visits.
Additionally, with teams allowed to work remotely, employees do not miss out on much work, even if they choose to stay back home. Thus, a hybrid model provides them with a sense of safety from the onslaught of the pandemic.
Rethinking office spaces
Office designers are always briefed on creating a specific type of work environment. However, architects always have to consider a heavy workforce that can be easily accommodated in the office spaces.
This has led to the creation of the decade-old office space structures, with cubicles separating team members from each other.
With a hybrid working system, companies can rethink their office spaces.
With a drastically reduced workforce attending the office at a given time, open spaces can be introduced to redesign the offices. Not only does this allow for more creative flow, but employee happiness is also shown to increase by working in open spaces.
It goes without saying that with a reduced workforce visiting offices, employers get the added benefit of saving on expenses.
These can include rent, office supplies, etc. All of these resources can be re-invested in building up a more technologically sound and productive environment, which allows a hybrid model to flourish.
Is hybrid the new normal?
The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the business landscape. While many would shun the benefits of remote working, in an effort to go back to the good old days, the benefits cannot and should not be overlooked.
Employees who have experienced the remote working systems want to continue with it. And, with almost two years of remote working, companies have no solid ground to push for an in-office setup. Thus, hybrid is the next logical step in this direction.
The role of technology should not be amiss in this discussion. The pandemic struck us at a time when our devices were capable of allowing a new form of work.
If you are yet to employ these technologies in your operations, contact us at [email protected] to better understand how cloud technologies enable you to manage a more efficient hybrid workforce.
Karan is a communications graduate with a passion for film and writing and is on an indefinite journey to search for and capture stories from around the world. He is currently exploring the world of content marketing to bring to life the products and services we use every day. Connect with him on Linkedin