Hybrid working means a combination of WFH and working from the office. This past year has led to all sorts of challenges for employers as well as employees. Initially employers scrambled to make arrangements for the work from home model – many employees didn’t have personal laptop devices, broadband access at homes or the privacy to be able to attend a three hour zoom meeting (which could have just been an email) from their homes. Now, while employers have adjusted to the arrangements, many employees are keen to get back to the office. Only that much one can tolerate a three year old attending zoom school, a nagging husband and that damn dog they thought was just the best idea during the lockdown months.
To be fair, the conversation on the importance of an office was already coming to bear even in the pre-covid days. With the rise of gig workers, companies did not need large offices, consultants worked from wherever (WFW, we suppose it was called) they were. Co-working spaces, hotdesking and cafes became the work environment. All one really needed was a laptop, wifi, and a pair of headphones to drown out the noise.
Now after the covid pandemic drags on, most offices are looking at a hybrid working model. Have employees come in on separate days and only a few days a week, to stop the spread. A study by Accenture shows that about 83% of employees would prefer a hybrid working model. But what does that mean for productivity? Let’s look at some pros and cons.
Fair for all
This model largely feels like it could be fair for all. Employees get the best of both worlds, while employers still feel like they have some control over their employees, well at least three times a week.
A recent survey of 12,000 people in the US, Germany and India showed that workers who felt less socially connected to their colleagues during the pandemic were less productive on collaborative tasks, compared to before the pandemic. The hybrid model would allow teams to come in on the days that other colleagues on the project also do, creating an environment for increased creativity and productivity.
This model could prove useful to be more inclusive in bringing all types of talent into the workspace. For example, the mother of twins who is an MBA but had to quit her job to take care of the bratty kids. She now can put her talents to use while ensuring that one of the twins doesn’t knock over that expensive Sworovski crystal vase. Who knows, that new colleague could also be a transgender employee that never got the opportunity before.
Saving on rent
Fewer people in the office means companies can now downsize the space they need and thus save on rent.
Gaps in leadership
The hybrid model could create gaps in leadership. Those in management positions have to deal with employees in the office and those at home. This could prove tiresome and lead to HR concerns where employees get their days mixed up, or request leave clubbed with their WFH days.
The cost to ensure home networks of all employees and office networks are secure could lead to a much higher cost for companies. Making these investments in just the office could save on costs of providing personal devices as well.
HR costs will increase since ensuring the attendance and timetables of all employees could be a daunting task.
Promotions and recognition
It is hard to assess performance for promotions and recognition. Employees who come into the office more are most likely to be seen as more hardworking than those working from home, who may seem distracted and distant to the manager who makes these decisions.
Inconsistency in communication
It is hard to determine which employees have been included in the meeting and who have missed out. These gaps in communication could mean that there is gaps in work being done, thus reducing overall productivity.
Employees working on remote days have a tough time disconnecting from work. The work day and the rest of the day often merge into one, leaving less time for family, that latest Netflix show or that G&T you have been craving all day. This could lead to higher burnout. Another HR nightmare.
It may seem like there are more cons than pros, but the fullness of this model is yet to be assessed in time. It is hard to say right now if this model is here to stay or will change once more people get vaccinated and covid starts to take a downturn. One thing is for certain, employees will winge and moan no matter which method you choose to set in your office.