Hybrid working is an approach to working that blends elements of office working and remote working, giving employees the flexibility and autonomy to work from wherever they choose to. In some cases, employees can work on the go and in other countries during their work-from-home days. Benefits for businesses include motivated and productive staff and new and broader hiring opportunities.However, there are also challenges of managing a disparate workforce that come as part of a hybrid working model.
Though hybrid working models can differ depending on industry and organisation, it is fast becoming the norm for workers. Read our extensive hybrid working guide to learn more about the following:
- Hybrid working vs remote working
- What is a hybrid workplace model
- The advantages of hybrid work
- The challenges of hybrid work
- Why the hybrid workplace is the future
- Essential tools to help you get started with hybrid working
Hybrid working vs Remote Working
With a remote working model, workers do not work in a physical office location and instead work from a permanently remote location. This can include working from home, in transit, abroad or from a shared co-working space. Remote working allows companies to tap into a pool of international employees while hybrid does not, as it blends elements of remote working with office-based work.
There are similarities between the two. For example, both hybrid and remote working rely on tech that enables collaboration between workers in multiple locations, including cloud technology for video calls, file sharing and instant messaging apps.
What is a hybrid workplace model
A hybrid workplace model is a framework that guides a company on its hybrid policy and the arrangements needed to be put in place to ensure that hybrid working is beneficial both to employees and the company.
A hybrid workplace model seeks to balance the needs of workers and the needs of the company and sets out the practicalities of making the hybrid approach function effectively.
Examples of hybrid work models
Although hybrid working is still relatively new for many businesses, a number of hybrid working models already exist.
At will and remote first model
Under this model, workers prioritise remote working and are required to work from the office when they feel like it. Employees have the freedom to choose when and if they work from the office.
The advantages of this hybrid model include the flexibility and autonomy it gives to staff, increased job satisfaction and savings on required office space.
However, cons of this hybrid model mirror that of 100% remote work. This includes a lack of in-person collaboration and finding an appropriate office size due to a lack of control over who is in the office and how often.
Office first model
This model expects workers to prioritise office work and allows employees to work remotely when needed. It’s easier to switch to this hybrid working model from an in-person working policy as companies just have to tweak a few policies to allow for working from home whilst retaining a pre-existing company culture and way of working.
However, some of the cons associated with this model of hybrid work include a lack of coordination on who will be in the office and when. The model may not be suitable for employees who live far from the office and does offer less flexibility to workers than other similar hybrid working models.
Split week model
The split week model works by assigning employees specific days to work from the office and specific days to work remotely. For example, employees may work in the office on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, whilst working from home on Monday and Friday. The advantages of this model include easier coordination on office days and remote working days, allowing the company to coordinate face-to-face internal and external meetings. The major disadvantage of this model is that it can be difficult to get the team together when there are unprecedented or unplanned face-to-face meetings. This model also may not be favoured by employees who want more freedom to choose the days they head into the office.
Designated team model
Under this arrangement, designated teams and departments are assigned specific office days based on collaborations and other factors. This means that teams and departments that rarely work together or collaborate on projects are unlikely to be in the office on the same day.
The biggest pro to this model is the ease of coordination and enhanced teamwork whilst its biggest drawback is that it might lead to a lack of communication between departments and teams that never work in the same physical location.
This is where employees work from the office on a specific week and work remotely on a specific week. The arrangement could be in the form of alternating weeks or prolonged weeks working from the office and prolonged weeks working remotely. A week-by-week model can help companies budget efficiently for required office space while its biggest drawback is possibly the lack of flexibility it gives to employees.
Advantages of Hybrid working
Regardless of the model, the adoption of hybrid working has increased dramatically over the last few years and shows no sign of slowing down. Australia leads the way, with 34% of all employees adopting some form of hybrid working model, compared to a global average of 29%. This is according to an October 2022 report by The Adaptavist which also revealed that up to 50% of workplaces in Australia offered their employees some form of a hybrid working setup.
Hybrid working offers several benefits both to companies and their employees some of which include:
Some employees are more productive working remotely while others are more productive working from an office. Hybrid offers the best of both worlds and as such employees are able to maximise their own productivity by tailoring their working arrangements to their own needs. A 2021 report by Telstra Australia found that small businesses incorporating hybrid working saw a 22% increase in productivity and a 10% increase in annual revenue.
Improved work-life balance
A 2022 report by the Swinburne University of Technology stated that up to 94% of Australian workers surveyed were happy with flexible working arrangements with one-third of them saying that they had a better work-life balance than before. Improving the balance between work and home not only helps employees stay motivated and improves productivity, it can also help improve people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Diverse hiring opportunities
Hybrid working opens up diverse hiring opportunities in the sense that they are able to hire employees who live further away from the office and do not have to go through the hurdle of commuting to the office every day. Similarly, more and more employees are demanding more technology-based work regardless of their location and companies that don’t adopt a hybrid working model may be at risk of being less appealing to potential new hires.
Helps organisations save on office and carbon footprint
Under a hybrid working model employees do not need to work from the office every day and companies are not tied to a long-term lease with their office space providers. Lesser office space could help offices greatly reduce not just rental costs but also running costs such as maintenance costs and security costs.
Remote or hybrid working could help companies reduce carbon emissions produced when their employees are commuting to the office and from other carbon-intensive activities such as using office heating and office air conditioning.
Challenges of hybrid working
Despite hybrid work being among the fastest-growing working models, it can lead to its own disadvantages and challenges if not properly managed and implemented. Some of the notable cons associated with hybrid working are:
It could impact the customer service of a business
Hybrid working could have a toll on clients who are used to face-to-face feedback from businesses. In some cases, customer service involves physical interaction for services such as mechanical repairs and after sale services such as installations and demonstrations of how products work.
For other businesses, a high-quality Contact Centre service is a requirement to maintain high customer engagement and satisfaction whilst embracing hybrid working. Having a team that works hybrid in such cases could lengthen the customer service process and cause backlogs.
Requires constant reviewing
Hybrid working is still a relatively new practice for a lot of businesses and many will have teething problems in the transition to this way of working. In order to avoid negative ramifications, companies and organisations have to keep reviewing their hybrid working policy to address any unprecedented challenges that may arise.
Not suitable for all industries
Hybrid working is not a suitable solution for organisations within certain industries such as healthcare, banking and manufacturing where workers are required to be onsite for the work to be complete. In such industries, only a section of the workforce can be eligible for hybrid working. Though it is possible that this can be implemented successfully, it also has the potential to create a rift between employees and departments if not handled correctly.
Why the hybrid workplace is the future
Hybrid working has grown rapidly post pandemic but why is it the future?
In the report, Changing Places: How hybrid working is rewriting the rule book by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC Australia), for every $1 invested in an employee’s health and well-being through hybrid working, companies got at least $2.40 back in productivity. Companies in Australia have started reaping the benefits of hybrid working through a much more motivated workforce.
In the past, workers had limited options for remote or hybrid working but the business community has discovered since 2020 that workers do not have to be physically present to thrive in some occupations. With such an awakening, both businesses and workers are increasingly seeing the benefits of hybrid working models. This has led to a generation of workers (Gen-Zs) who are more likely to be willing to walk away from jobs and businesses that do not offer flexibility, according to a report by management consulting firm McKinsey. With such a trend, more organisations are most likely to adjust their policies to cater to the demands of such workers and smart businesses need to adapt and change with the times.
Essential tools to help you get started with hybrid working
Today, digital technologies have enabled new ways of communication that allow businesses to collaborate and be productive regardless of the location of employees. Each company must find the tools that best drive success, regardless of which hybrid working model it adopts. At RingCentral, our communication software facilitates cloud communications and collaborations through features such as video conferencing and calls, emails, audio calling, and file sharing, perfect for hybrid working. Below are just a few that can help you embrace hybrid working.
A reliable and high-quality video conferencing service allows virtual teams to connect and collaborate regardless of location.
Whether you deliver webinars for internal training, customer communications or company-wide meetings and AGMs, having a webinar solution enables you to easily access your webinars and online events from anywhere in the world, making it perfect for hybrid and remote working models.
VoIP stands for ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’ and is a phone service that’s delivered over the internet. This means that employees can make and receive calls from anywhere with an internet connection.
Regardless of your business needs, RingCentral will help you every step of the way. Explore how our integrated message, phone and video conferencing cloud communications app can provide a seamless solution for your organisation today.
Originally published 24 Mar, 2023, updated 27 Mar, 2023