In the Future Workforce Pulse Report, which took a look at the status of remote work throughout the United States in December 2020, we learned that nine months since the pandemic began and many employees began working remotely, nearly 42% of the American workforce remained fully remote. While hiring managers to expect that number to go down over 2021, they anticipate that, by 2025, 36.2 million American employees will still be remote, an increase of 16.8 million people from pre-pandemic rates.
In other words, a lot of companies are keeping their employees remote long after the pandemic — but is remote right for every company?
Too often, decision-makers look at their workforce as either remote or in-office, with no other options in between. However, is there another way, a way that could prove more beneficial for both employees’ and companies’ bottom lines?
What is the Hybrid Model?
A hybrid work model attempts to take the best aspects of both remote and in-office work, and blend them together, creating a new solution for employees and decision-makers. For example, employees can enjoy the flexibility to work on time-consuming or mentally-taxing tasks at home on some days, while also enjoying face-to-face interaction and collaboration with coworkers in the office on others.
But the hybrid model doesn’t look the same for every company.
For example, TransferWise recently introduced a new hybrid model that allows employees to (1) work remotely from anywhere in the world for up to 90 days per year and (2) work from home up to three days a week. This decision was based on employee surveys that found more than half of employees wanted to be in the office two to three days a week, primarily to see fellow team members.
Spotify also announced a new hybrid option for employees recently, called “My Work Mode.” This gives employees the option to work remotely full-time, in-office full-time, or a mix of the two, with increased flexibility for remote workers as to where in the world they can now work.
Salesforce made a similar move in February, offering flexible working arrangements and empowering employees to more freely choose how, when, and where they work. Salesforce’s Chief People Officer, when making the announcement, declared “the 9-to-5 workday is dead.” However, he also noted that about 80% of Salesforce’s employees do want some degree of in-person interaction with team members, which makes a hybrid model ideal for the company.
What Makes the Hybrid Model Work?
These “work from anywhere” hybrid options give employees the autonomy and trust to do their jobs successfully, in a way that works for them — and that’s part of the reason why they’re becoming so popular. In fact, a PwC report from January entitled “It’s Time to Reimagine How Work Will Get Done” fully predicts hybrid models of employees splitting time between the office and remote work to become the new norm.
Of course, the monetary savings of a hybrid model don’t hurt — a Global Workplace Analytics report found that employers could save more than $500 billion a year with hybrid work-from-home schedules if 48 million full-time employees were simply sent home to work for a few days per week. According to Kate Lister in a Global Workplace Analytics release, “Many like to make the conversation about remote work polar — either everyone is in the office or everyone is remote. In reality, the majority of U.S. employees prefer a mix of both, with half-time being the average desired frequency.”
Along these lines, care has to be taken in order for the hybrid model to work, just as care is needed to ensure remote work is successful. That’s why executives are investing in solutions for hybrid models, such as tech tools for virtual collaboration, more communal spaces, and unassigned workspaces in offices.
Additionally, as SHRM points out, smart decision-makers are looking at who can work remotely and what work can be done remotely, a hybrid model or not — there are some employees who simply don’t want to work remotely at all, as well as some who potentially need closer management for the time being. Identifying those individuals is an integral skill for both your talent acquisition team and your managers. Thankfully, that task is made a little easier via hiring tools such as Modern Hire, which uses pre-employment assessment tests to better predict where and whether a candidate is a good fit.
“Moving to a remote or hybrid working model requires careful considerations: technology, management styles, and employees,” says Megan Nau, Large Enterprise Account Executive for Modern Hire. “Many organizations fail to consider the personal traits required for employees to thrive in a remote model. Autonomy, time management, and even a level of extraversion can contribute to an employee’s success in an at-home role. It is important to use pre- or post-hire assessments to determine suitability for this unique working environment.”
When Does the Hybrid Model Not Work?
Sometimes, a “work from anywhere” policy just isn’t a good fit, just like remote working isn’t a good fit for every company. In some cases, the work itself just can’t be done remotely at all, and an employee’s physical presence in the workplace is necessary. In some instances, these types of roles are obvious, such as those in industries like food service, construction, health care, or maintenance.