Hybrid work: the good, the bad and the flexible

Sara Ana Cemazar
July 19, 2021
min read

Nowadays, it seems like everybody is talking about hybrid work. Companies are redesigning their work policies and contemplating the best ways to combine advantages of coming to the office and working from home.

Ever since the pandemic abruptly entered our work lives, organizations realized that it’s possible to have employees working remotely. The hype around hybrid working models is real. However, not everybody is convinced that it is a good way forward.

As you will learn in this article, there are many benefits of hybrid work, leading with flexibility that is desired by most employees. On the other hand, some experts are warning of potential downsides.

📚 Read on to find out what does the term “hybrid work” actually mean, how it benefits your organization, what challenges to expect - and how to mend them. Plus, we’re throwing in extra tips we’ve learned over the years of remote and hybrid work at Rocket.Chat.

What is a hybrid work model?

Essentially, hybrid work is a combination of on-site and remote work. That being said, there are many variations to it. Some companies opt for a more structured approach like having all employees work from the office certain days of the week, and remote other days of the week.

hybrid work

On the other hand, some companies will allow employees to have total flexibility and choose when and where they want to work from.

For example, Google announced to its employees that they are aiming towards 60% of them coming together in the office a few days a week, 20% working from home, and 20% working in new office locations.

Over the last year, there have been plenty of opportunities to compare data from in-office, remote, and hybrid workplaces. Gartner’s 2021 Hybrid Work Employee Survey found the following:

  • Greater adaptability in hybrid teams - while 70% of hybrid employees create the structure of their meetings with intended outcome in mind, only 49% of in-office workers do so.
  • Hybrid workers feel psychologically safer - 66% of hybrid employees vs 47% of their in-office colleagues feel comfortable taking risks in their roles. Mind you, according to Google’s internal research, psychological safety is one of the five most important traits of most successful teams.
  • Better understanding between hybrid team members - hybrid teams accommodate their members’ working preferences according to 69% of employees compared to 54% in-office workers.

Benefits of hybrid work

If we could single out the biggest benefit of hybrid work, it would be flexibility. 40% of people believe that a flexible schedule is the biggest advantage of working remotely or hybridly.

hybrid work

Many other hybrid work benefits stem from the flexibility itself - it is making life easier for both workers and employers in multiple ways.

Here are the biggest advantages of hybrid work.

Higher employee retention

According to research, 30% of employees would quit their current jobs if they wouldn’t be able to work from home. Moreover, 52% of employees would like to have more flexibility in their work.

In other words, the hybrid work model is attractive to workers for many reasons, and it can add to higher employee retention.

Increased productivity

Because of its flexibility, the hybrid work model allows workers to work when and where they are most productive. Most employees say that they are more productive when working from home - 76% claim it’s due to fewer distractions.

hybrid work

Moreover, last year of coerced experimentation with remote work has taught many companies a valuable lesson. 94% of employees say that their productivity level was the same or even higher than before the pandemic and in-office days.

However, not everybody wants to keep working from home forever. The beauty of digital workplaces lies in seamless user experience that caters to productivity no matter where the work is done from.

📚  Pro tip: team communication and collaboration are crucial for team productivity in a hybrid work environment. However, constant communication can get tedious. Learn how to diversify your communication efforts and use asynchronous communication channels.

More diverse and easier recruitment

Did you know that ethnically and racially diverse companies outperform their competitors by 35%? By employing a hybrid work approach, you can hire employees from anywhere in the world. This allows you to hire more diverse teams, and individuals with the best qualifications.

hybrid work

Better work-life balance

It is no wonder that 68% of employees say poor work-life balance makes them less motivated at work.

Luckily, flexible work allows workers to achieve better work-life balance. Less time spent in traffic, more time spent doing what you really want to do - work out, spend time with friends and family, or just walking your dog.

Improved usage of IT resources

Hybrid work usually goes hand-in-hand with a digital workplace. In such an environment, lean solutions usually take precedence over highly complex software. For IT Pros, this means less reactive work putting down sudden app crashes and intricate mishaps. In other words, you can claim a better ROI of your IT resources.

📚  Learn how can a Slack open source alternative make your IT, compliance, and security ROI higher.

4 challenges to watch out for

The future of work is definitely hybrid. And although there are numerous benefits of hybrid work, it does not come without its challenges.

However, the risks of a hybrid work environment can be easily mitigated. The first step is to recognize potential threats to your business so you can start working on neutralizing them.

Here are some most common challenges associated with hybrid work.

Endangered cybersecurity

Post pandemic world has brought many data protection challenges to companies whose workers suddenly had to switch to remote work.

According to research, 25% of employees have connected to potentially unsafe open Wi-Fi, and 17% have allowed someone else to use their work equipment over the past year.  Moreover, 53% of employees are using consumer communication apps for work.

Overall, 70% of employees admitted they have engaged in risky online behavior in the last 12 months, leading to increased security breaches. Consequently, 24% of C-level executives in IT and cybersecurity roles say they had paid unexpected expenses to accommodate increased cybersecurity violations since the beginning of the pandemic.

hybrid work

📚  Learn which 5 security features every company should keep in mind to protect their data and their employees. Moreover, learn the ins and outs of data privacy and most important security features of messaging apps.

Creating a gap between in-officers and home stayers

The essence of hybrid work is accommodating both types of people - those who prefer coming to the office and those who prefer staying at home. However, research suggests that 43% of women are more likely to work from home most of the time, compared to 34% of men.

Moreover, research suggests that in-person workers are more likely to get promoted, thus leading to inequality.

What is a good way to mitigate such risk? For one, let your HR be the leader in designing hybrid work policies. Secondly, make room for random communication both with in-office and remote workers.

📚  See how you can easily manage your remote team on Rocket.Chat.

Increasing need for digital transformation

Hybrid work requires a new, agile way of thinking, which needs to be supported with technology. It could be challenging to always stay in the loop and keep up with the current trends when it comes to best solutions for your business.

Digital transformation is an ongoing process that helps organizations adapt their business processes to meet changing market requirements. Big aspect of it are apps that foster better team collaboration and communication - after all, businesses profit and stay competitive when their employees collaborate effectively.

For example, Deloitte’s research shows that businesses are twice as likely to outgrow their competitors when they collaborate, as well as 60% less likely to see decline in profitability.

hybrid work

Therefore, hybrid workers should continuously be introduced and give access to apps that enable seamless collaboration experience.

Adapting to different kind of collaboration

Team collaboration is one of the most sought-after skills in the hybrid and remote work environment. After all, collaborative businesses are more likely to improve their profit and 2x  likely to outgrow their competitors.

There are many more arguments in favor of collaboration in the workplace. However, hybrid work could pose a challenge to collaboration due to flexible working arrangements. Luckily, by setting some ground rules, you can boost your teams’ collaboration while working remotely.

📚  Take a look at how we at Rocket.Chat collaborate remotely and what are the best team collaboration software on the market today.

6 tips from hybrid work champions

Although we are a remote-first company, Rocket.Chat encourages everyone to work from anywhere they feel comfortable and productive. As we are a team spread out on five continents, we have definitely learned some lessons about working remotely and hybridly.

Here are some hybrid work tips we’ve learned over time.

Frequent and diverse communication

Not only is it important to communicate frequently, it is also important to communicate on diverse channels and on diverse topics. Therefore, find time for the virtual talks by the watercooler!

Most importantly, talk about the future of work. 68% of employees say that their companies have only vaguely communicated or haven’t communicated a vision for postpandemic work at all.

Not surprisingly, lack of communication about these topics is causing anxiety for 47% of employees.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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Empower team collaboration

Team collaboration should be not only facilitated, but empowered. Your entire organization needs to be a huge believer in team collaboration - no matter how challenging it may be sometimes!

Effective collaboration has multiple benefits for the organization - bigger chances of profit being #1. This is why it’s important to give your employees the right tools for collaboration when going hybrid. With the right technology, your organization is much more likely to reap all the benefits of collaborative behavior.

Meet in person

Some companies will opt for a hybrid work model that favours mandatory days spent in-office, while others will allow for more flexible work. If the latter is the case, try to meet in person every once in a while.

Most fully remote companies organize yearly get-togethers for the whole workforce - which is a great way to bring everyone closer and provide some amazing experiences to the whole team.

Leaders must be your champions

Flexible work does not work if your leaders are not on board. Research shows that during the pandemic, 54% of employees in the UK felt obliged to come work from the office due to fear it would hinder their career progress or how their bosses perceive them.

As in many other cases, your C-level executives must lead by example. Even better, they should become champions and ambassadors of hybrid work themselves, sharing their personal experiences - good and bad - with the rest of the team.

Let employees have a say

Do we return to physical workplaces postpandemic? Do we keep working from home? If we do both, how do we do it? Your HR experts should take charge into designing your hybrid work policies.

However, every company and its workforce are different. Therefore, ask your employees how they feel! When and where do they feel most productive? What would they prefer and why?

Ensure high cyber safety standards

Last but not least, one of the most important aspects of the hybrid work model are collaboration and cybersecurity. You need to ensure both!

There’s where Rocket.Chat comes to your aid. Not only does it provide smooth communication and collaboration experience, it guarantees the highest security standards. Check out what makes Rocket.Chat a safe team collaboration platform and get in touch with our team!

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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