What to consider when designing a hybrid work model

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
Updated October 26, 2021

The hybrid work model has been touted as “the future” by many leading research firms, and many of the world’s largest corporations are now investing in a hybrid model.

Yet hybrid work models are being met with mixed reception from both employers and employees—which can lead to confusion surrounding how exactly a hybrid work model should be constructed.

The paradox of The Great Reshuffle

IBM expects 80% of its employees to work remotely post-pandemic.

Microsoft’s Work Trends Index report also found that the shift to remote working, or “The Great Reshuffle,” has been widely accepted by most workers. 

As of March 2021, around 74% of Microsoft employees wanted to continue remote working.

Other studies have shown that employees strongly favor a remote-friendly work environment.

According to research by Morning Consult, updated as of October 2021:

  • 83% of remote workers enjoy remote work
  • 77% would be more likely to apply for a job that offers a remote work option
  • 76% feel they are more productive working remotely

Some employees have even indicated they would quit their jobs rather than return to the office.

Yet The Great Reshuffle has also introduced a “hybrid work paradox,” according to Microsoft’s report. The survey found that, although most employees favor remote work, 67% said they also wanted more in-person engagement.

For many organizations, hybrid work models show promise in meeting employees’ desire for more remote work as well as their need for increased social connection.

What to consider when designing a hybrid work model

Hybrid office models combine onsite work with remote work. By offering employees options such as remote work and flex-time, employers can benefit from the best of both worlds.

Employees can engage with coworkers while also enjoying the perks of remote work. Many who work in offices enjoy the social connections that come with being part of a team. The option of remote work, even if it is only allowed part-time, gives employees the opportunity to both bond with their teams and spend more time working from home.

Employers can reduce the overhead associated with onsite work. Real estate, equipment, and utilities are just a few of the many costs associated with onsite work. An organization that allows more employees to work from home can trim away many of these costs by reducing its office space, which in turn can decrease office-related overhead.

Hybrid offices can introduce new operating models and possibilities, such as hiring independent workers or outsourcing from the global talent pool. In today’s digital world, there are no barriers to hiring employees from anywhere in the world. This means that organizations can be more agile and cost-effective by recruiting workers from around the globe, either as full-time, part-time, or contract workers. 

Hybrid work models do come with some challenges

Building a strong workplace culture. It is far easier to create common behavioral norms and a united culture when employees are working onsite. The less face-to-face contact employees have with one another, the harder it is to instill a common set of values, behaviors, and ideas. This is the main reason why 68% of employers want employees to spend at least three days in the office per week

Creating a seamless digital experience for both onsite and offsite workers. Working in an office and working from one’s home are two very different experiences. Not only because the environments differ, but because the availability of certain digital tools often differs as well. Fortunately, as cloud computing becomes more common, it is easier to adopt fully functional cloud ecosystems that can be used in the office and remotely. Additionally, advances in teleconferencing equipment make it easier for teams working in the office to hold hybrid meetings with both onsite and offsite teams.

Onboarding, training, and managing split teams. Choices must also be made around how to handle employee onboarding, training, and management. Onboarding employees remotely often requires different tools, workflows, and tactics than in-person onboarding. Managers must also learn not only to manage remote employees effectively, they must be aware of how remote working affects teams’ social dynamics.

Besides these considerations is the actual design of the hybrid work model. Hybrid models can come in all shapes, shades, and sizes. 

For instance:

  • Employees can be allowed full control over when or whether they work in the office
  • Employers can impose rigid policies that govern remote working
  • Only certain types of workplace activities may be required for onsite work
  • Flex-time may or may not be allowed

A successful hybrid work model must balance the benefits of having a more structured work environment—such as improved collaboration and a more cohesive organizational culture—against the benefits offered by remote work, which tends to be more dynamic.

While some companies may opt to avoid hybrid office models, they may be locking themselves out of a significant portion of the talent pool by choosing that path. After all, as technology and employee expectations continue to evolve, hybrid offices will likely become the new normal for organizations and industries.

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.