How many articles concerning the transition into the remote work have you read? Even if you limited yourself only to my own articles (and if that is the case, I'll take that as a compliment), you have probably built enough enthusiasm for remote work to charge your phone and keep the computer on for a 3-hour long Zoom meeting. If you studied those articles well enough, you surely remember the part when we mentioned that, aside from numerous advantages, remote work also comes along with some threats and disadvantages. Furthermore, you may also remember when we talked about dividing the positions in our company into fully remote, partially remote and fully stationary, with the last group lacking any possibility of working remotely at all. Previously we just wandered away from those last two categories, focusing on fully remote workers and implementing a remote first model into our company. But the time has come, and we need to underline the simple fact that becoming fully remote may sometimes be too costly for a company to perform and that is why hybrid models are becoming so popular.
What is it and why?
A hybrid remote model is a mixture of both worlds, with an extended possibility of remote work combined with an office where employees may work.
Of course, that is only a basic definition - there are many different variations of this idea. In some cases, remote work may still be considered a benefit, only on a bigger scale - the office is still the main hub of the company's work and life, and sometimes, remote work may work in cycles - one group of employees gets to work from home during one period of time, and after that, they switch with their colleagues. That is certainly an option, yes - but not the only one. Many companies prefer to organise their hybrid model in a "remote-first" manner, where the office is just a company-owned co-working space, and the majority of employees are spending their time working remotely. Which of those two ways is the best for your company to get going? Well, that depends on the management and situation. But one way or the other, we all have to agree that hybrid models are getting more and more popular.
The idea is the same as with all the hybrids in the world - to combine the best out of two different solutions, while omitting the majority of their possible drawbacks.
In this particular case, our remote hybrid will retain:
From remote first models:
Higher productivity - as we mentioned and proved countless times before, remote work allows employees to be much more productive, and that is because we do not force workers to sit pointlessly in the office after all their tasks have been finished and/or their energy has been spent. Statistics prove that proper introduction of remote work allows employees to fully utilise possibilities of their home offices and bring back much better results.
A healthier lifestyle - lack of tiresome everyday commute, possibility of better life-work balance and lack of stress due to spending time in our cosy, quiet home allows remote workers to, after some introductory adjustments, maintain a much healthier lifestyle.
Flexibility - the more remote-oriented your hybrid model is, the more flexible your employee's schedule becomes. One of the great advantages of remote work is not being tied to one place. So, your remote workers have a possibility to travel around without neglecting their professional responsibilities. Of course, sightseeing isn't the only possibility with a more flexible work arrangement. Some employees may be in a difficult situation that simply forces them for example, to look after their family members - and in this case, remote work is their solution to the dilemma.
A wider talent pool - in our traditional office arrangement, we limited ourselves to the people that work in the same city that our company has its office. Speaking from my recruiting experience, I cannot tell you how often did I find a perfect candidate for the job I was recruiting for, only to get to know that the job would require him to move, search for an apartment in a completely new place and leave all his life behind. It's not so hard to guess that he or she usually withdrew the application from the recruitment process. Now, if the company had a remote work policy, something like this would never happen. Working remotely allows us to look for talented professionals everywhere we want, which frees us from all the limitations of local job markets.
From the office-based models:
Better integration - we have mentioned numerous times that one of the biggest disadvantages of remote work, especially in the beginning, is the feeling of loneliness. Well, it's not like we have mentioned it, more like the newly titled remote workers mentioned it. There is, of course, a way to deal with that problem in a fully remote team - after all, we have already covered this topic in one of the previous articles. But if we retain some sort of office space, either as a main hub of company activity or as a glorified co-working space with a brand sticker on it, we can also retain integrations and a feeling of being part of a team that is so important to many employees.
Easier management - managers who have been recently introduced to remote work tend to complain about how difficult it is to manage and supervise a distributed team. It is not, of course, impossible - there are countless tools and apps to do so, and with a little bit of will and motivation, every manager can quickly learn how to do it. But even with that, we have mentioned how important it is to retain some sort of organised meetings, for example in a form of videoconference with the entire team. Well, if the company has an office, it can skip the videoconference part and simply organise the said meetings in real life. That way managers can also check on their team and employees have a chance to hear about the company's situation and feel like they are the part of something bigger.
Remote first or hybrid - what is it going to be?
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed us all into the, depending on the opinion, loving embrace or the cruel clutches of remote work. And yes, for quite some time we were all forced to remain in our permanent home office prisons. But no economy can stay locked away for an infinite amount of time, and day after day, more restrictions are being lifted. And so, companies are torn between the good (?, good question…), old ways of the office-based work model and the newly implemented and, in many cases, quite efficient mechanisms of remote work. They acknowledge the advantages and disadvantages of both paths, and that is why hybrid models are on the rise - much more than remote first or fully office-based models. Even if some companies would love nothing more than to return to the way the things were before, that doesn't seem quite likely in the foreseeable future. The coronavirus will stay with us for quite some time, and with it - numerous restrictions concerning hygiene and avoiding contact. That is why hybrid remote models are so popular and, by the looks of it, will stay with us for a long, long time. I strongly believe that once we get used to them, we will start thinking out of the box by creating innovative and smart working solutions which will remain for good even after the pandemic is gone.