The perks and pitfalls of a hybrid working model

The perks and pitfalls of a hybrid working model

The COVID lockdowns completely changed our relationship with how we work. Remote working ushered in a new era for many organisations, many of which were surprised by its efficacy. Now, some are toying with moving to a hybrid model permanently. But what are the implications of this move?

If you’re not familiar with the term, hybrid working is when staff work partly from home and partly on-site. This arrangement gives employees greater flexibility; according to a recent Salesforce survey, at least 64% of workers would like to work from home occasionally. A further 37% said they would like to work remotely permanently.

So, if employees are so open to the idea, why aren’t we all packing up and moving to hybrid now? In reality, the issue is a little more complex, which we’ll discuss here.

Productivity vs. efficiency vs. attention

The hybrid model has the potential to redefine how we measure performance. Traditionally, employers wanted to keep an eye on their staff to guarantee the hours worked. Achievement was measured by hours put in, over and above everything. However, if a staff member is working from home, how can you ever really know?

This, instead, shifts the emphasis to results over hours spent at the desk. Many argue that this is a very positive development; staff are more motivated to do their best work as they know managers are concerned with the output, not how it’s achieved.

However, the hybrid model does have the potential to create an over politicised workforce. In a hybrid model, the office is likely to remain the nerve centre of the operation. Those that spend more time there are likely to get more attention and air time, while those at home get sidelined, no matter the quality of their work.

Reducing rents – but at what cost?

It’s a simple sum – fewer employees means you need less space. This could save companies a substantial amount in rent and supplies. It also works the other way; employees can work in more affordable locales away from city centres and spend less on commuting.

But what about the psychological cost of being away from your colleagues? Without the opportunity for so-called “water cooler moments” and face-to-face discussions, communication has become much more intentional. Sometimes, this can stymie ideas, slow down decision making, and even have a negative impact on employee mental health.

Where should your priorities lie?

The reason many people like working from home is it enables them to have a better work-life balance. Without the commute or fixed hours, workers have more time to spend with their families or do the things they love. This prioritisation of their needs will generally cultivate more positive feelings towards their bosses.

Employee prioritisation may sound nice, but is this really what a business should be focussing on right now? Cyber-attacks and data loss, for example, are more likely when communicating from changing locations. Companies need to have a carefully formulated cybersecurity plan to ensure safety or risk major financial or customer data-related blunders.

These are critical questions for modern business. It seems like the hybrid model is going to become an increasingly common arrangement, but companies need to consider how to make it work for them. With a clearer picture of some of the pros and cons, management can think about how to start planning.



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