While Covid-19 accelerated the change, the shift away from the traditional nine-to-five office environment has been happening for many years. With reliable, fast broadband available in most areas and new technology enabling easy and rapid communications between groups regardless of location, working remotely brings benefits to both employer and employee.
As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic and offices starting to reopen, many businesses are looking to a combination of presence and remote working strategies to obtain the best outcomes for both productivity and employee engagement. Referred to as hybrid work, this model allows all stakeholders to enjoy the advantages of remote working, while having an in-office component to boost teamwork, for meetings and other situations where a physical presence adds a lot of value.
However, while the hybrid work model is gaining in popularity, you may be wondering what advantages does it bring and how can any organization implement it successfully?
The Hybrid Work Environment
Collaboration with remote teams has been an essential foundation of business life for the last two years during Covid-19. However, for both employees and employers, this enforced switch in work strategy has brought a number of benefits. Organizations have been able to keep functioning even during a global pandemic while conforming to required safety protocols, and employees have gained an improved work life balance, reduced travel costs and overall, a better work experience. Around the globe remote working has become extremely popular. An employee survey by Microsoft showed that 59% of the employees prefer remote work because it offers a better work life balance while 61% prefer it because of reduced work commute.
It has also been shown to be highly effective too, with a recent survey by HR magazine showing that a third of businesses have reported increased productivity since bringing in remote working, with 38% saying there has been no change.
However, while remote working was essential during the pandemic, some areas of business operations could still be a challenge such as onboarding new staff, fruitful collaboration and company morale.
As times get better people are looking forward to combining remote work with in-person office spaces whenever necessary. This is the hybrid work environment, where people work remotely but also visit the office at times. That means individuals can choose to collaboration with their team members remotely or working with them in the office environment according to the matter at hand.
Remote Office vs. Physical Office
The advantages of this hybrid work approach are clear. It allows a more flexible approach that employees enjoy, helping them keep the benefits they have felt from remote working, while also allowing for in-office collaboration where it is most fruitful. A study conducted by Accenture reported that 83% of the workers found Hybrid work model to be the optimal choice for them.
How time is split between the two environments will depend on the unique needs of each business and team. A hybrid work schedule may be a remote-first approach where time at the office is minimized, it may be a specific timetable, where teams gather in the office on specific days or it could be a predominantly office-based schedule with the ability to work remotely whenever possible. In October ‘21 American Express announced Amex Flex - a new way of working where employees can work in hybrid, full office or full virtual mode depending on their nature of work. With the benefits of a happier workforce extending beyond productivity and including higher retention, such a mix workplace approach is not only better for business growth but will also deliver financially.
Innovative Collaborative Tools for Hybrid Work
Using the right tools, organizations can create a seamless transition between in-office and at-home working to ensure that their hybrid work model is successful. As the infrastructure that enables hybrid work, such as high-speed internet and powerful computing, becomes table stakes, the right software platforms are more important than ever to empower a hybrid workforce.
We are all familiar with the video chat systems available that enable real-time conversations for your team regardless of each individual’s location, but that kind of experience only highlights that the team members are remote from each other. Instead, a virtual collaboration space can bring people together and allow them to interact in the same ways they would in person. Virtual reality spaces put your team together in a new way, one that bridges the gap between digital and physical to empower a hybrid work strategy.
The virtual office benefits from a feeling of physical presence and direct interaction that a video conversation or an exchange of emails can never replicate. By enhancing the interaction between employees, the virtual space has much to offer for any organization implementing hybrid work.
Tap into the benefits of a virtual office
At Arthur we’ve helped many large organizations to implement virtual offices as part of the collaborative toolkit to enable a hybrid work strategy, improve performance and keep our customers ahead of the competition.
We have developed a Guide to Hybrid Work which would help you understand what hybrid work means for your company and what kind of approach is best suited for your enterprise. The guide will also detail the steps to implement a successful hybrid work model which will positively contribute towards employee retention as well as towards your company’s performance.