There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the workplace over the past two years. Most office workers started working from home, and many, if not most, prefer it. With things settling down, it was expected that these people would then return to their offices.
However, as many employers have figured out, many don’t want to return to the office, at least not full-time. This new work model developed over the last few years is known as the hybrid work model. It’s hybrid because it features a combination of working from the office and from home. Indeed, it does appear as though the future of work is hybrid.
Several studies note that upwards of 80% of employees prefer a hybrid work model, just to put this into perspective. This article will discuss why employees prefer a hybrid work model over a 9-to-5 office job.
We will also discuss what employers need to do to keep up with the changing nature of work; the work model has changed to a hybrid model, and employers need to accommodate this.
The Typical Workplace of The Last Decade
Before we can discuss how the workplace has changed, knowing what it looked like before is essential. We are all familiar with the workplace of the past: It generally consisted of a 9-to-5 job in an office for those hours.
A 40-hour workweek is a militaristic approach that was created shortly after WWII. It is a very rigid, inflexible, and uncompromising way to work. One significant issue is that many simply were unable to meet these strict schedules.
People have other responsibilities in life such as chauffeuring children to and from school, elders to take care of, and more. Unfortunately, the 40-hour workweek forces people to neglect other responsibilities and passions in favor of work, which is generally detrimental to mental and physical health.
This 40-hour workweek in an office setting generally ended with the COVID-19 pandemic, not by choice but out of necessity. Workers quickly learned that working from home or having a hybrid work schedule is beneficial. Moreover, employers also realized that they could also benefit from allowing flexibility in their employees’ schedules.
Before the hybrid work model came into being, many workers were unhappy with their jobs. As a result, the number of people quitting their jobs was at an all-time high. Moreover, the general morale was low, and many sought to switch careers altogether.
People were done adhering to a strict and unforgiving schedule. Although this pandemic is extremely serious, it seems to have had a beneficial impact on the nature of work for workers and employers alike.
The Future of Work and Collaboration – Why The Hybrid Work Model is Feasible
People might wonder how this hybrid work model is possible. After all, for a business to function smoothly, all employees have to communicate efficiently. In the past, collaboration took the form of sitting in a room and having meetings.
However, with advancements in technology, particularly collaboration software, the hybrid work model is now possible. Collaboration tools and technology have come a very long way, and workers now have everything they need in digital space.
One of the most popular collaboration tools is Microsoft Teams, which allows all data to be kept. Employees can easily access any data that they need. And it provides instantaneous communication between employees. It will enable workers to simultaneously collaborate on the same projects.
These tools that allow workers to instantly collaborate and communicate are what make this hybrid work model possible. People now have the flexibility they need to be productive anywhere and at any time. As long as everyone is on the same platform, such as Microsoft Teams, collaboration can be done anywhere, anytime.
Why a Hybrid Work Model Works – The Benefits
The future of work is hybrid, but why is this the case? What benefits do employees and employers get from this hybrid work model?
Increased Autonomy and Worker Satisfaction
One benefit of this hybrid work model is that workers have more autonomy. These flexible work schedules allow them to decide where, when, and how to work.
Of course, this can be a bad thing if a worker is not motivated. That said, most workers find this autonomy to be beneficial. Simply put, a worker can choose to start an hour later or earlier, have a coffee break when they see fit, and so on.
This has been shown to significantly increase worker satisfaction which is vital to the overall success of a company. Happy and satisfied employees are willing to do their jobs to the fullest, which benefits both employee and employer.
In addition, the hybrid work model increases overall productivity and efficiency. A hybrid work model allows employees to work according to their strengths. For example, some people work best in an office with others, while others are more productive in the peace and quiet of their home offices; everyone is different, and employers need to account for this.
Allowing people to work in ways that enable them to be as productive as possible benefits everyone. Employees are happier, and they get more done, and employers reap the rewards.
Improved Mental Health
Hybrid work models can help improve the mental health of employees. People get burned out when they are forced to work that 9-to-5 schedule in an office. It’s boring, repetitive, and uncompromising.
This uncompromising repetition can take a toll on mental health. Moreover, work-life usually always bleeds into personal time. When people don’t get enough personal time to do what they enjoy, depression can set in. Depression, high-stress levels, anxiety, and more can all be attributed to rigid in-office work routines.
People appear to be happier and mentally healthy when they have flexibility and autonomy over their work process. This can be something as simple as taking a walk for an hour and then finishing work later.
This could mean putting work off for an hour to spend some time with the kids for people with children. Simply put, people need to do the things that make them happy. This is something that a hybrid work model can help everybody achieve.
And Many More
The simple reality is that there are many more benefits to a hybrid model.
Workers often spend hours commuting to and from work. This could be as much as three hours per day in some cases. These are hours that could be spent working or just enjoying life. There’s also the fact that transportation, whether public or private, is becoming more expensive.
Another benefit to consider has to do with physical health. People who work eight hours per day in an office, and spend several hours commuting, just don’t have time to be healthy. Workers often eat unhealthy foods because they don’t have the time and energy to eat right. Moreover, finding the time to exercise is often a challenge.
A hybrid work schedule can afford workers the time to exercise and eat right. Good physical health can lead to better mental health, higher levels of energy and motivation, and greater productivity.
The Opportunity to Learn
A hybrid work model can also give people the opportunity to engage in further learning. People who work in a 9-to-5 office rarely have the time or motivation to learn something new. When you have back-to-back meetings, finding the time to learn is not easy.
However, with the opportunity to work from home, employees have the time to learn new things. This could be something as simple as mastering the latest collaboration software the company is using. On the other hand, it could be that the employee has more time to be creative, to solve challenges that the job provides.
A hybrid work model may allow a person to pursue a higher educational degree. Whatever the case may be, hybrid work models give people time to learn new things. This can lead to greater knowledge, more skills, and higher productivity and success rates.
Workers Being Productive Anywhere – What They Need
I want to discuss what workers feel they need to be productive, happy, and motivated. When these following needs are met, people can be productive anywhere.
Workers feel that they can be more productive when they have greater levels of autonomy. In addition, they feel more effective when given the right to manage their own time.
Workers feel that they can be more productive and successful when allowed to increase their digital skills. A hybrid work model can enable workers to master various new technologies and skills for greater productivity.
In addition, workers want a work model that accounts for mental health. People require interaction with others, free time, sick and mental health days, and more, so employers need to account for workers’ mental health.
Not only is mental health necessary to employees, but physical health as well. This could come in the form of paid sick days. However, it could also be as simple as regularly disinfecting and cleaning the workspace (considering the recent pandemic).
Workers also say that a hybrid work model functions well when the business in question is digitally mature. Employees want digital tools that can drive communication, collaboration, mobility, and innovation.
The bottom line is that the future of work is undoubtedly a hybrid model that significantly benefits employees in various ways. When employees feel happy, energetic, and motivated, they will be more productive and willing to perform, leading to greater success for the business as a whole. The hybrid work model may be in its beginning stages, but there is no denying that it is here to stay.