From shifting to a Zero Trust cybersecurity model to managing employees differently, there’s a lot to consider with the implementation of a functional, effective and efficient hybrid workplace.
In 2020, organizations were forced to often shift to a hybrid model, if not fully remote. They had to do so quickly because of the pandemic, but now rather than being required to rethink the traditional office and work environment, companies realize it’s giving them new opportunities.
In fact, some analysts say the hybrid workplace is the biggest opportunity this century in particular to improve employee performance, productivity, and well-being.
Below, we talk more about the specifics of what a hybrid workplace might look like, the challenges that exist, and what to generally know.
What is a Hybrid Workplace?
Reshaping the way we view work in 2022 is the hybrid environment.
In a hybrid work model, the physical space where employees are sitting doesn’t matter even close to as much as the online tools and cloud access connecting them to coworkers. Work is moving away from being a place you go. Instead, it’s something you do.
A hybrid workplace combines remote work with some in-office work. The goal, when it’s all implemented correctly, is to have employees who are equally productive no matter where they’re working.
An employee in a well-managed hybrid environment should also be able to seamlessly move between remote and in-person work without declines in productivity.
According to Salesforce, nine of 10 surveyed companies plan to adopt some iteration of this model. As a result, they are going to have to make changes to their tools and processes to adapt to the digital transformation appropriately.
There are a lot of different hybrid models.
For example, in some settings, employees can work in the office anywhere from one to three days a week, and the rest of their time is remote. Home-based hybrid models indicate employees work all the time remotely, while office-based is where employees are working in the office all the time. A lot of companies offer all three models depending on the situation.
As you might imagine, technology is foundational to the ability of a hybrid model to work.
Below, we highlight seven key things to know about hybrid work environments.
What to Know About a Hybrid Environment
The following are some of the challenges and considerations that come with this mixed work environment.
1. There’s An Increased Focus on Cybersecurity
The ability of an employer to offer the option to work from anywhere relies on strong cybersecurity protocols and protections.
Most often, a Zero Trust strategy is what works best for this. Zero Trust means the focus isn’t on guarding the perimeter and keeping things outside the corporate firewall because a perimeter doesn’t exist anymore.
Instead, the focus is on verifying and authenticating every individual and device before access is granted, with the assumption that they’re all a threat.
2. Remote and In-Office Workers Aren’t a Static Number
In most hybrid workplace models, the ratio of employees who are working remotely compared to the in-office employees isn’t a static number. It can change by the week, but also the day or even the hour.
A lot of companies don’t require employees to schedule where they’re going to work in advance, and the number of workers in the office doesn’t automatically exceed the number of workers who are remote.
3. Employees Prefer Hybrid
Before the pandemic became an issue, employees were increasingly signalling a preference to have flexibility in how they work. For nine out of ten millennials, even before the pandemic, the freedom to choose when and where to work was more important than salary.
There’s an evolution in attitudes among workers where the focus is on getting the work done rather than thinking about where or how.
Generation Z isn’t far from becoming the dominant segment of the population in the workforce, and this group has shown a desire in current research to split their working time between home and the office.
Generation Z workers seem to like the idea of having the physical office space available when they want it while not necessarily being tied to it.
4. The Effects on Company Culture
One of the biggest fears for CEOs since the start of the pandemic, and even beforehand when talking about remote work, is the worry that it diminishes or erodes company culture.
While hybrid work might represent changes in how employees interact and communicate with one another, it doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be a culture to speak of. It just might look different.
With remote work, employees are starting to learn how to communicate less formally online.
There are new ways that workers can personalize communication and interact with coworkers.
Open communication actually becomes a top priority in a hybrid model because it’s essential that employees have access to the same information no matter where they’re physically working.
There can also be improvements in employee well-being that then become impactful in a positive way to company culture. For example, workers in a hybrid situation are less likely to feel burned out and more likely to say they’re happy with their work.
5. There Are Some Downsides
There are downsides of hybrid work models that you have to consider, as well as challenges.
The hybrid model, for example, doesn’t account for people without a distraction-free work environment or a designated workspace in their home.
Frontline workers can’t benefit from hybrid environments.
There’s also the worry that hybrid environments put employees who can’t work in the office or who don’t at a disadvantage compared to in-person workers.
When some people are in the office, and others aren’t, there’s always going to be the potential of missing out on key conversations or opportunities.
Female employees might be disproportionately burdened by this risk because of childcare demands.
Finally, employees who are seen in the office might inadvertently be associated with having more productivity or being more valuable just because of their visibility.