Consider These Options for Hybrid Work Solutions
Hybrid work models lift employee engagement. In a study of more than 2 million employees across 17 different industries, Top Workplaces research shows employee engagement is 7 percentage points higher for employees that are either fully remote, mostly remote or mostly onsite when compared with employees who are fully onsite (measuring 77% engaged for the former three groups vs. 70% engaged for the latter).
Hybrid work models are about balancing and creating work environments that promote workplace flexibility. Employees can visit the office for collaborative meetings, team-building, or face-to-face interaction. They also are free to work offsite when they need to focus, avoid commuting, or juggle personal commitments.
To some, hybrid work models offer the best of all worlds. If you’re a human resources professional looking to improve hybrid flexibility in your workplace, consider these most common types of hybrid work models:
1. Office-first hybrid work model: This requires employees to work most of their hours from the office. Pros: Higher levels of interdepartmental collaboration and teamwork; efficient communication; increased innovation and inspiration from in-person meetings; improved socialization; and physical connection to workplace community and culture. Cons: Increased sick days and paid time off; higher commute costs and longer commute times; and employee dissatisfaction around flexibility.
2. Flexible hybrid work model: Employees decide which days to work remotely and onsite. Pros: Improved employee trust and autonomy; increased employee well-being and morale; improved recruitment and job-seeker interest; and reduced commuting costs. Cons: Decreased performance or missed goals; underutilization of office spaces; and increase in team silos.
3. Team-designated hybrid work model: Leadership determines the workplace flexibility expectations for everyone on a team-by-team basis. Pros: Improved efficiency and productivity; reduced commuting and labor costs; self-management opportunities for employees and managers; and increased acceptance of different working methods. Cons: Disconnect between in-person and remote employees; wide range of required employee benefits and management styles; increased rifts among teams; and requires more intentional communication from senior leaders.
4. Remote-first hybrid work model: Remote-first hybrid work models mean all employees work remotely most of the time. Under this model, organizations often have an in-person location available for occasional team meetings, client events, or day in the office. Pros: Reduced overhead costs; increased employee and employer trust; boosted well-being and work-life flexibility; streamlined employee benefits and expectations; increased talent pool from a wider range of locations; and improved employee recruitment and job-seeker interest. Cons: Reduced communication, both across and within teams; increased silos; and higher levels of employee work burnout and quiet quitting.
5. Split-week hybrid work model: Managers and leaders assign on-site and remote workdays for each team. Pros: Allows space for experimentation and open communication; avoids both crowding and empty offices; improved communication and feedback; and higher levels of flexibility during times of uncertainty. Cons: Certain teams may never be in the office at the same time; increased operational and overhead costs; requires consistency across teams; and higher commuting costs.
6. Week-by-week hybrid work model: Leaders decide which weeks employees need to be in-person and which weeks they can work remotely. Pros: Ability to downsize office location; reduced overhead and commuting costs; helpful for large organizations; improved planning and predictability; and consistent team meetings and goal setting. Cons: Silos across and within teams; self-managed roles might find the in-person weeks unproductive; and not helpful for unplanned events or meetings.
No matter which type of hybrid work model you choose, keeping employees engaged in their work is crucial. The best hybrid work model is the one that promotes engagement, drives productivity, and retains top talent.
To find the right fit, employees and employers must be on the same page and open to honest communication. Pay attention to what’s working, what’s not, and don’t be afraid to test new things.
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.