The New Era of Hybrid Work (infographic)

As COVID-19 rampaged across America, it presented both crisis and opportunity at every turn. Well known already are the crises of health and economy brought on by the disease, but underappreciated are the opportunities coronavirus presented for reinvention. Before the pandemic, working from home was a fringe concept entertained by few. Now thanks to last year’s lockdowns, 95% of American office workers have worked from home at least part time. Born out of necessity, this transition was a massive experiment yet to conclude. Preliminary results are overwhelmingly positive; 97% of workers now say that they prefer working remotely.

Workers have cited a variety of reasons to appreciate remote work. 79% of those surveyed were glad to be rid of their daily commute. In extreme cases, eliminating commute frees up hours of a worker’s time. Another widely cited reason among workers was the improvement they saw in their work-life balance. Being at home encouraged people to stop neglecting their life outside of the office. A significant chunk of these workers also said they were able to spend more time with their families thanks to remote work.

Now that workers have seen how beneficial remote jobs can be for their lives, they are loath to give them up. A third of workers say they would take a pay cut anywhere from 10 to 20% if it meant they could continue working from home. Only half of workers feel like their current employers meet their expectations regarding remote work. This dissatisfaction is encouraging 24% of Americans to plan a job change as soon as the pandemic ends. While variants are extending the clock on this declaration, displeased workers won’t wait forever to make their choice.

Perhaps they won’t have to. Businesses are increasingly coming to realize the ways in which remote work benefits them as well. For each employee a company allows to work from home 2 or 3 days a week, that company saves $11,000. Some of these savings are a result of lower office spending, but not all of them. They also come from reduced employee absence and turnover coupled with higher productivity levels. While not all jobs can be done completely from home, businesses have a clear incentive to incorporate remote work into their workplace models going forward. They have sufficient motivation to design a hybrid model.

A hybrid workplace is simply any workplace that incorporates remote and in-person elements. It need not look the same as any other company’s hybrid model. One can have only leadership positions work from the office or they can expect it of everyone. They can schedule who is in the office when or let employees make that decision themselves. The choice regarding how much remote work to include and how is best left up to managers and their team. Open communication will allow the best solution to prevail.

Yet once the ratio of office to remote work is settled, there are still other considerations a manager must have about a hybrid workplace. Employees who are only in the office part of the time often share workspaces, which means coordinating schedules to ensure space is available for everyone is essential. Managers must act more intentionally before to ensure remote employees and office employees are included equal amounts. This principle can apply to meetings, projects, and just about any collaborative venture.

Hybrid work will present its own benefits and challenges. Americans are ready to face them; 52% of Americans want to have a hybrid model for their work. The past 2 years have seen searches for hybrid work increase nearly 400%. The future is here.
Read next: Hybrid Work Could Result in Increased Employee Burnout According to Microsoft Study
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