Hybrid remote working bridges the gap between remote work and office work. It offers employees the opportunity to work in an environment that suits them and has a substantial impact on both overall performance and productivity. Despite the weather-related small talk, many people still want to be with their co-workers. And if companies aren’t too eager to return to full-time hours on site for all employees again, there is a solution that is less black and white.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of how hybrid remote working functions and why it could benefit the companies that employ it.
What is a hybrid remote working model?
A hybrid work environment includes both in-office and remote employees. This arrangement allows employees to work from home while still maintaining a physical office. Combining the two work models has major benefits for a number of vulnerable groups, including women, people who have disabilities, parents of young children, millennials, and Generation Z employees.
If that’s not enough to pique your interest, the hybrid remote working model also seems to be a more productive and cost-effective strategy for everyone. There are plenty of companies still pushing the envelope when it comes to working conditions. But many are starting to realize that they need to care more about how their employees are getting things done and where they have to be to do it.
This results-oriented mindset is the driving force behind many decisions to switch to a hybrid remote working model.
When it comes to the day-to-day practicalities of this approach, it can vary widely. In general, hybrid workplaces need conference rooms, at least one large general use space, and a robust online tool for a successful transition. This can save companies real estate space and office expenses which are only a couple examples of the many benefits of hybrid remote working.
What are the benefits of hybrid remote working?
After working remotely during the pandemic, many employees are eager to return to their desks. But despite the enthusiasm for shared workspaces, many companies are still reluctant to return to the traditional office setting. That’s where hybrid remote working comes in.
Companies can work together with employees to create schedules that everyone will champion. For example, instead of working from home on the same days every week, an employee or team member will come to the office at agreed-upon times instead. This eliminates the need for an office manager to plan meetings and events for in-office hours.
Smarter resource management
A manager can then customize their work schedule to suit a specific company project. For example, all members of the same team can work from the same office then alternate with another team the following week.
Alternatively, companies can choose to give employees the freedom to go into the office whenever they want with the caveat that they do it a minimum number of times per week. An entirely flexible schedule allows employees to customize their work schedules to fit their personal needs. This concept is ideal for people who work from home for disability-related reasons or are on a tight deadline.
Many of us know from experience now that flexible work can boost employee satisfaction. It’s also a great way to reduce turnover and can be a major selling point for recruitment.
What are the challenges of hybrid remote working?
The traditional workday is no longer a requirement for many workers. Instead, they expect more from themselves and are more focused on results-oriented tasks. In fact, studies have shown that there is a link between feeling content with work and being productive. For employees, this expectation presents various challenges that employers have to consider.
These challenges include but are not limited to:
- Company culture
Micromanagement is one of the biggest challenges of both remote working and hybrid remote working. This can be counterproductive and may even lead to resentment amongst employees if taken to an extreme. For example, having to check in constantly or always be online while working from home (even after hours) may lead to a big enough decrease in morale that employees choose to quit.
On the other hand, creating a culture of autonomy can help employees feel secure and accountable.
Tip: Strong remote work management training and a great project management platform can help executives monitor teams in more productive ways.
One of the other biggest challenges of hybrid remote working is finding ways to connect people part-time. Simply put, you can't force team culture. Instead of assuming teams will come together socially on their own, managers should try creating a space both online and in-person where everyone feels welcome. This can create a more intimate environment where people can connect and discuss their concerns.
Another key issue is communication. Employees need to be able to communicate with each other wherever they are without having to travel to a physical office. By creating an online communication plan, you can easily integrate apps and messaging platforms into your existing systems.
Considerations for going hybrid remote
For some businesses, switching to a hybrid remote working model may be an impractical or impossible choice. While it is a great alternative to an entirely remote team, it does require more effort and an investment of time to implement. This is especially true when you consider how switching work models affects your company holistically.
When it comes to going hybrid remote, team bonding is more important than ever. Just because you're not in the same location doesn't mean you can't do team bonding activities.
Create remote team activities that are both fun and professional. From holiday parties to corporate announcements, there are endless possibilities.
The goal is to show your employees that they're valued and treated the same regardless of where they work. It'll also help them feel included in the team even if they are in an entirely different timezone.
You should also consider taking a temperature check (no pun intended) of your post-COVID company culture. At-home employees are typically more productive, less likely to quit, and generally happier than their in-office counterparts. After many months of telecommuting, you may find that your specific group is better suited to one model over another.
Another important point of consideration is your management team’s style. When managers are used to being around their employees, they may not know how to manage a remote team, much less a part in-person, part remote team. There may be learning curves over time.
One of the other important factors that companies should consider is the number of days employees can work in-office. Again, flexibility is key. Companies should not make strict rules around a minimum number of in-office days unless those rules are directly tied to goals and projects.
Tips for managing a hybrid remote team
- Set expectations. First, get in touch with your employees to find out their preferences. Then, make sure they're prepared to measure their results no matter where they’re working from. After, discuss the hybrid office options with your senior executives before making the transition.
- Make a plan. Create a clear and flexible office schedule for the first couple of weeks back. This transition period can be used to document the various changes that will affect the office environment. Your return-to-work plan should also outline the procedures for the IT department.
- Develop meeting types. These may serve different purposes or function in new ways compared to the types of meetings you currently host. Make sure to divide up one-on-ones and status meetings so that each remote individual receives some personal attention.
- Have fun. Fun should be part of all in-office and remote work cultures. Online multiplayer games, virtual happy hours, trivia, and even hybrid karaoke can bring together remote and in-person teams no matter how far apart they are.
- Build a foundation. Before the project begins, provide all the details and requirements in advance. This will help avoid misunderstandings and confusion later. Another good step is keeping important documents and communication centralized.
- Take it slow. Transitioning to a hybrid remote working model doesn’t have to happen all at once. Small changes can be made each month or quarter so that no one gets overwhelmed. This also gives teams time to assess progress and reevaluate their model as they go.
- Implement meeting policies. Unscheduled meetings can be disruptive to hybrid remote teams, which is why companies may want to formally schedule them within their project management software or calendar tool. If you do have informal meetings, leaders should document the takeaways within project files and individual tasks as needed.
- Keep things fair. Leaders should carefully consider the perks of the office and extend them to those who are outside the office. For example, if a team member is remote but still needs to access an onsite gym and daycare, this could be difficult to accommodate.
How to support hybrid remote teams with Wrike
When remote work is no longer required, what happens when employees choose to work from home? For many companies, this is their first step into a hybrid working model. They need to prepare for this transition to implement it successfully. Here’s how Wrike can help.
Wrike is a hybrid remote working software that lets you work seamlessly across time zones, spaces, and teams.
Wrike helps streamline your collaboration by allowing everyone on the team to save, edit, and share project-related documents in real-time. Having a centralized storage space makes it easier to review, approve, and print documents too.
Wrike also puts micromanagement concerns to rest through visual task management tools. With a clear view of your team's tasks, you can see who's working what, who's available, who’s not, and what the status is of every active project component. Building trust within your team in this way is an absolute necessity to keeping things running smoothly.
In that same vein, Wrike’s dashboards give your management team ample support before, during, and after the transition to hybrid remote working. Essentially, they provide a bird's eye view of projects and the ability to dig deeper when necessary.
With custom dashboards, you can see the status of all your team members' work, as well as the individual's workload. Our collaboration tool makes it incredibly simple to keep track of all your meetings and status updates. Also, it lets you outline the agenda and record notes in the same file.
Using Wrike will help both your remote and in-person teams to time too. At-a-glance tools like these prevent employees from having to send or receive status updates to the entire team via email or messenger throughout the day.
And by making project plans and task assignments visible to everyone within Wrike, team members will better understand the roles and responsibilities of others. Not only does it increase their visibility, but it also serves as a constant reminder of what they are working toward. It can even help them feel accountable to themselves and the team.
Wrike can even help simplify and streamline the hybrid remote model scheduling process. The custom calendar feature is a great way to keep track of flexible and remote work arrangements all in one place.
The promise of a future where hybrid remote working is the norm is exciting. With Wrike’s help, your team can easily experience the many benefits of the hybrid remote working model for themselves. Start your free trial today.