Exploring the depths and dynamics of hybrid work

Hybrid work is a popular option for many employees and employers post-pandemic. According to an Accenture survey, 83% of employees prefer the hybrid work model, while 64% of employers prefer to offer it. Although this model offers various benefits, several challenges make business leaders and employees rethink the concept.

But no two businesses operate the same or experience identical benefits or hurdles. The efficacy of any working model depends on the individual processes, policies, procedures, and, ultimately, practicalities of the organisation.

There are, however, common advantages and disadvantages many companies and employees have experienced with hybrid working.

In this blog, we explore these benefits and challenges while giving you practical tips on avoiding the common pitfalls of hybrid work.

Advantages of hybrid work

Reduces operational costs

Employers can save on rent, office supplies, energy bills, and other expenses. Employees also save on travel costs, transportation fees, and other work-related expenses. 

A Cisco Global Hybrid Work Report revealed that 87% of South African hybrid and remote workers improved their well-being, above the global average of 78%.

Improves work-life balance and well-being

Employees have more control over their schedules and work environments and can choose the best option for their personal and professional needs. They can also avoid the stress and hassle of sitting in traffic for hours, and spend more time with their families, friends, or hobbies. This, in turn, can positively impact their mental health, happiness, and satisfaction.

Increases productivity and efficiency

Employees can work in the optimal setting for specific tasks, whether at the office, home, or a coffee shop. They can also avoid distractions, interruptions, and conflicts in the office, and focus more on their work. Additionally, technology tools, such as cloud-based applications, video conferencing, and collaboration platforms, can help them communicate effectively with their colleagues and clients.

Disadvantages of hybrid work

Stifles interpersonal relationships with colleagues

Employees may miss out on the informal interactions, feedback, and support they get from co-workers and managers. They may feel isolated from the team or organisation. 

According to Pumble, 37% of remote workers felt lonely, and 23% felt disconnected from their colleagues.

Increases overworking and burnout

Remote workers often face difficulties setting boundaries between their work and personal lives. Some work longer hours, take fewer breaks or feel pressured to always be available and responsive. They may also experience more stress, anxiety, or fatigue from the lack of physical and social interactions or the uncertainty and ambiguity of the hybrid work model.

Company-wide misalignment and inconsistency

Remote employees may have different levels of access, visibility, and communication with their managers, peers, and clients while facing various degrees of expectations, preferences, and work styles. This can lead to confusion, misunderstandings, or conflict among employees, affecting work quality and timelines.

Heighten cybersecurity risks for your businesses

How hybrid working increases cybersecurity risks for businesses is a critical consideration, as employees work from various locations and devices. Businesses face increased vulnerability to cyber threats, making it crucial to address and manage these risks effectively to safeguard sensitive data and maintain the overall security of the organization.

Practical tips for hybrid work

Researching and implementing best practices and strategies, including how to manage hybrid working, establishes common ground and expectations company-wide, ensuring minimal disruptions to operations or company culture.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Clear and flexible policies: Define the arrangement's scope, eligibility, and process and communicate them clearly and consistently to employees. Allow a degree of flexibility and autonomy for employees to choose their preferred arrangements, granted they meet business and performance objectives.

  • Training and support: Offer training and development opportunities to equip managers and employees with the skills and tools to work effectively. In addition, provide support and resources to ensure employee health, safety, and well-being.

  • Foster a culture of trust, collaboration, and inclusion: Create and maintain a culture that values and respects the diversity and individuality of employees, encouraging trust, collaboration, and inclusion. Recognise and reward contributions and achievements and provide constructive feedback and guidance. Most importantly, it facilitates open and honest communication, emphasising the importance of collaborative support and respect.

  • Review and adjust periodically: Monitor and evaluate the impact and outcomes of the hybrid working model, and collect feedback and suggestions from employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Update policies and guidelines while addressing issues and leveraging opportunities.

Choosing the right work model for your business

Although hybrid work existed well before the pandemic, it’s still a new and evolving concept for many companies. However, experimentation, monitoring, and adjustment will ensure you choose the best work model for your business.

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