Learn about Hybrid Working & How to Navigate your Remote Career Choices

Hybrid work environments are becoming a hot topic as some organizations bring individuals back to work on-site while other workers prefer to continue working from home. Learn the meaning of a hybrid workplace and how this setup can be conducive to effective teamwork and productivity.

As we step toward a post-pandemic future, companies are re-evaluating their workplace structure and seeking to implement a work model that best fits the needs of their diverse group of employees. While many workers have grown accustomed to the work-from-home lifestyle over the past few years, not every company or every job type will lend itself to remote work.

It is important to note that high productivity rates have been maintained during the pandemic and some employees prefer the freedom to work remotely at least some of the time. Therefore, companies should consider adopting a hybrid work model as a competitive differentiator that will influence their ability to hire and maintain employees.

Businesses have started to explore how to deploy a hybrid work environment that allows some employees to safely return to the office and others to work remotely in a way that allows everyone to work productively as a team.

What is a hybrid worker?

Very simply, the meaning of a hybrid worker or hybrid employee is: A person who works from home part time (or another non-employer location), and works at an employer location part of the time.

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What Does a Hybrid Working Model Look Like?

A hybrid work environment allows a mixture of in-office and remote employees. Companies that adopt this type of work structure give their employees the ability to decide when, how, and where they work optimally on any given day. Hybrid work arrangements can also allow employees the flexibility to alternate between working in the office or remotely giving employees the independence to choose how they can work best on any given day.

According to McKinsey, top executives expect that for all roles that aren’t essential to perform on-site, employees will be on-site between one to four days per week. Businesses that never experienced having remote employees before could implement a hybrid work environment by choosing to have in-office days for collaborative work and using remote days for more deep focus work or by allowing their team to choose whether they would like to work in an office or remotely. As with any new change to a workplace, there are pros and cons to deploying a hybrid work model.

On the one hand, hybrid work helps to continue the work-life balance that came with working remotely full-time and cuts out the stress of commuting to and from the office every day. On the other hand, hybrid work may bring its own frustrations, like switching back and forth from a home and office work setting or some of the team feeling left out of the company’s culture. In all the cases the question is—how can productivity can be optimized?

What is a hybrid workforce?

The term hybrid workforce is vague enough, it’s hard to pin down a single definition, but here are two of the most common meanings for hybrid workforce:

One definition of a hybrid workforce

The most common definition of a hybrid workforce is where you have a significant number of employees engaged in a hybrid working model, spending part of their time at an office, and part of their time working from home.

Another meaning of hybrid workforce

A hybrid workforce can also mean that your company has embraced a mix of working styles, with some employees working from home, some working from company locations, and some in a hybrid working model – or any combination of at least two of those.

Key Hybrid Working Challenges

With any change to workplace practice, there are big challenges and hybrid working is no different. Maintaining awareness of these challenges and taking the right steps to ensure they don’t negatively affect your workforce or customers is vital. Here are some examples of the challenges faced when implementing a hybrid working model:

  1. Unconscious Bias
    For those who prefer to work remotely more often, there can be a concern and a risk that they may suffer from unconscious bias. Not being visible to management could risk them feeling less valued than those in the office, due to potentially getting less facetime and fewer benefits than those in the office. It’s important to remain connected to those who work remotely and ensure this doesn’t happen.
  2. Change of Culture
    It’s without a doubt that company culture was easier to build when 100% of the staff were based in the office five days a week. Taking some or all of the staff off of the premises can lead to disillusionment within the workforce, which makes it all the more important to focus on what aspects of culture you’re looking to nurture and do that through the channels available to you.
  3. Hybrid Worker Wellbeing
    Working remotely can negatively affect the mental wellbeing of some employees, and those employees struggled when working from home was required. This presents an opportunity for employers to use hybrid working in the most accommodating way possible for employees to feel supported, giving them the flexibility to shape their own working schedule and improving the overall employee experience and satisfaction.
  4. Communication & Connectivity
    Although those working remotely and those in the office are not in the same physical location, there should be no difference in their ability to communicate with colleagues. Creating a quality connection between remote workers and those on-site is vitally important, helping connect the entire workforce and avoiding the kind of mistakes that negatively affect both customers and employees.

What is a hybrid work environment or hybrid workplace?
The meaning of a hybrid workplace or environment: This most often refers to a company that has elected to have all or some of their employees working in a hybrid work model.

Hybrid Work Best Practices: How to Optimize Your Hybrid Work Environment

In order to make a successful move to hybrid work, companies need to create trust between the organization and its employees, be transparent in communicating changes and provide their teams with the tools they need to stay productive and work effectively.

While every organization is unique, the foundations of creating a thriving hybrid work environment are similar and focusing on these best practices can help businesses with a smooth transition.

  1. Building Trust
    A crucial part of collaboration and hybrid work is building trust between employees and the company. Without trust, managers sometimes become micromanagers to keep tabs on their team to be sure they are staying busy, which can leave the team members feeling uneasy and stressed. It is important to focus on the quality of work being done rather than the hours being clocked. Allowing employees to manage their workload independently and establishing trust across all fronts will greatly help lead to the success of a hybrid work environment.
  2. Clear Communication
    In addition to creating trust, having transparent communication with employees is even more necessary in a hybrid work structure. Setting clear expectations and goals will help teams understand what they are working towards and motivate them to work together. Daily or weekly one-on-one check-ins can help establish strong communication between managers and teams, as well as foster a trusting relationship.
  3. Use the Right Tools
    Business communications technology is essential. To avoid roadblocks, teams will need to be equipped with collaboration tools that allow each employee to stay connected and be able to work effectively, no matter where they are. Tools like video conferencing, file sharing and messaging are important to keeping employees engaged with each other and their work, which will also help with trust and communication.

What is a hybrid job / hybrid role / hybrid position?

If you’ve seen hybrid positions posted online, you may be wondering, “What does a hybrid job mean?” A hybrid job means that you work part of your time from a company location, and part of your time working from a non-company location.

That company location will most likely be a company office. While people most often refer to the non-company location as “working from home,” in reality, this may take many forms. When not working at a company location, you may work from your home, or a friend’s house, a coffee shop or a co-working space, a hotel or vacation rental-type property. The possibilities are endless.

Examples of hybrid jobs:

  • Work from home three days a week and from an office two days a week
  • Work from the office in the mornings and from home in the afternoons
  • Work from home three weeks a month and gather at a company-rented coworking space one week a month
  • Work from home most of the time, but gather at a meeting-oriented space as needed for big collaboration sessions
  • Work from home 70% of the time and meet clients at a company office 30% of the time
  • And too many more to list here

Hybrid Working is Here to Stay

Hybrid working is not a new concept, but organizations adopted it in a big way during the pandemic, bringing a new perspective to different industries and business models that was proven to be successful.

Companies should invest in tools that help make their teams feel as if they are in the same room. With that in mind, Mitel brings a set of collaboration software and tools that has practically everything a company needs to run an effective hybrid team—providing employees a cohesive experience for messaging, video conferencing, and collaboration. Employees can access this software on any device at any time no matter where they are.

Hybrid work is here to stay, it helps to continue creating a work-life balance and gives employees the independence to manage their time efficiently while supporting companies to optimize costs and find talents without geographic limitation. Whether companies make the decision to transition to a more hybrid work environment or  continue to work remote full-time post-pandemic, having trust, clear communication and the necessary technology software are vital in creating a hybrid workspace that supports all employees equally no matter the situation.

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