Since COVID-19, many businesses were pushed into creating a remote work environment for their employees. While many workplaces adapted well to this virtual environment, not all business functions or employees were able to achieve their best efficiency in this fully remote environment, especially with little notice. As restrictions lift, organizations are faced with the challenge of offering a model that balances employee efficiency and optimal communication – this is where a hybrid work model comes in.
A hybrid work model offers employees the flexibility to work from the office, work remotely, or some combination of the two. This type of workplace design allows employees to find their own balance in where, when, and how they work best.
However, the challenge is on businesses to understand how best to bridge the gap between remote and in-person communication. We know that can be a difficult landscape to navigate and have outlined some considerations and ways to implement a hybrid work model that works best for you and your business.
Benefits of Hybrid Work
From an employee perspective, hybrid work models are the best of both worlds. They allow staff to be in the office when they need to meet in person, need a designated workspace, or are doing work that requires their physical presence in some way. At the same time, they have the option to work remotely when they want to avoid a commute, the potential for better focus and less distractions, and the ability to manage their home life (being able to switch the laundry over while on lunch break is a small luxury).
For businesses, there are many pros to hybrid work models as well. Offering a better work-life balance not only improves employee satisfaction, but it also reduces staff exposure to illnesses, builds a crisis-resilient culture, and potentially saves on real estate expenses. For roles that remain fully remote, there is the added benefit of hiring from a greater talent pool that is not dependent on living within commuting distance, or even the same time zone. Best of all, a recent Microsoft report found that 82% of their workforce are at least as productive as they were before the pandemic. 
However, there are certainly some challenges that should be considered. For many employees, it can be difficult to find spaces in their homes that are designated workspaces, which could in turn make it difficult to create a distraction-free environment. As well, it can be difficult to standardize a quality internet connection across personal workspaces and this is evident in a study completed by WhistleOut where over a third of workers reported that lack of quality internet access is a major barrier to productivity and employee satisfaction.
Implementing a Hybrid Work Model
1. Get Employee Input and Develop Personas
Every employee works differently and will therefore have unique needs and values when it comes to their workspace. It is best to understand what those requirements are at the outset, before implementing a system that may not meet those expectations.
Depending on the size of your organization, this input may best be gathered with one-on-one discussions, team brainstorming, anonymous surveys, or some combination of these methods. From this information, you should gain awareness of how many employees want to work remotely or at the office and how often, as well as whether they want to work in either situation at all. Questions that offer qualitative input may be especially helpful in deepening your understanding of your employee’s voices.
That being said, you may not have time or capacity to survey your employee base. In this case, you may want to select a sample size, or group employees by their job function or working group, and attempt to answer questions based on these personas. What needs are better met at the office or remotely for these groups, and how can challenges be mitigated or “perks” be amplified to achieve an optimal experience in either?
2. Build Infrastructure that will Support Hybrid Work and Level the Playing Field with In-Person Work
Whether employees are fully in the office, fully working from home, or somewhere in-between, their working environment needs to be flexible and easy to work together in. The infrastructure used to communicate should not favour one working environment or style to another, and there should be relative ease when switching between. For instance, an employee may work from home on certain days of the week but may come into the office on others; setting up their workstation, logging on to communications tools, and accessing necessary files should be seamless.
Organizations should consider their communications processes, both internal and external, and understand what technologies their employees require to do their jobs well. This may include video conferencing, call forwarding, or messaging tools. For employees that are fully remote, there may also be differences in time zone that should be considered; in this case, an asynchronous method of communication could be implemented.
When it comes to accessing files, consideration should be given to cloud environments. Does it make more sense for your organization to have a private cloud, public cloud, a hybrid variation, or a multi-cloud environment?
To manage traffic within a physical office environment, as well as ensure safety and comfort levels are maintained through various stages of pandemic restrictions, organizations should consider scheduling time at or away from the office.
3. Get Feedback During Implementation
Organizations will gain a better understanding of operational processes when they take the time to gain feedback from employees working in a hybrid environment. While a plan of action may appear near perfect at the outset of implementation, there may be snags in the day-to-day operations.
The Qualtrics 2021 Employee Experience trends report states that 92% of employees felt their company listens to feedback yet only 7% say their company acts on feedback really well.  With the implementation of such a large and new process, regularly receiving and acting on feedback from employees, whether in formal surveys or more casually in daily conversation, is imperative when creating a hybrid work environment that works best for your company.
Hybrid Work Models Are No Longer a Choice
The pandemic has created a new standard, where companies and employees alike are asking themselves where, when, and how they work best. The demand for flexibility from employees has reached new heights, and organizations must meet these demands as well as consider the overall success of their company.
It is not too late to establish or assess your company’s hybrid work model. Check out Sunco Communication and Installation Ltd.’s Future of Work series here or book a free discovery call to learn more about how we can help.
 – Building resilience & maintaining innovation in a hybrid world Modernizing the workplace emerges as top business transformation priority:
 – Qualtrics 2021 employee experience trends:
 – Weak Internet Cripples Productivity for ⅓ of Work-from-Home Employees