Wondering if the hybrid work model is right for your team? Don’t worry, you are not alone in asking yourself this question. With the NSW Government WFH orders no longer being enforced and many employees now returning to our cities and the office in full force. Many decision-makers and managers are stuck scratching themselves in the head, wondering which option is the right fit for their company and how to successfully implement a hybrid work model.
Whether you are looking to get your employees back in the office full time, or looking at implementing a flexible work model tailored to your company's needs. We’ve seen it all, and we have seen what works for the businesses in our community.
With an expected percentage of 35% of employees hybrid working in a post-pandemic world, and 72% of employees saying they don’t want to go back to the traditional way of working, and expect a hybrid-remote office model going forward. PwC’s 2021 study (Hope and Fears Survey) found that the ideal work environment for 74% of Australian employees surveyed is a mix of remote and in-person work. With only 10% favoring a traditional work model. Further, the study revealed that 42% of Australian employees would agree to let their employers monitor their performance at work, including wearable devices and sensors. With these kinds of numbers, there's no denying that the hybrid work model is here to stay.
If you are still unsure if the hybrid model is right for your business, the hybrid work model is according to research done by Telstra expected to reduce barriers to workforce participation and provide an economic boost of up to $18.3 billion in additional economic activity. As well as provide additional 42,500 full-time jobs over the next 10 years. The hybrid model or flexible model has also been shown when implemented correctly to improve productivity, allow companies to recruit better talent, achieve innovation and improve overall employee satisfaction.
In saying this, the hybrid model does not work for everyone and there are no right or wrong ways when deciding what work model works best for your company. Some companies simply prefer to have everyone working from the office every day, as that is how they collaborate the most efficiently. Or they have face to face client meetings that work better in person. And many employees prefer to work from an office every day with stellar internet connection, creative venues such as podcasting and green screen studios. Not to mention unlimited free coffee and educational events, and no distractions from home life tasks calling their attention away from work. One obvious benefit of having your team gather in person is being able to see how your team is doing, to assess their wellbeing and contentment within their role, thus allowing you to build successful strategies for employee engagement and retention.
Different Hybrid Models
Now you’ve decided to go with a hybrid work model, but which one do you even choose? There are several different factors to take into consideration when choosing a hybrid model. It’s important to note that there is no one size fits all model, and what model works for you will vary depending on your industry and requirements, the needs of the management team, employees, the company culture and the long term vision of the company, but also your employee satisfaction and retention.
The At-will Model
The at-will model as the name suggests allows employees to manage the days they come into the office themselves. And choose the work arrangement that suits them the best on any given day. This model is particularly beneficial for those who want to visit the office when they have a meeting in person or want a dedicated and quiet place to work from. It’s also beneficial for those looking to escape their work station at home and network and connect with their team members and potential clients. Several of the companies in our space have chosen this work model for their teams and have set up a process of requesting “Work From the Office” (WHO) as a way to manage the team members in their space on the day.
The Week by Week model
This model sees employees alternating between working at home for a week and working remotely the next. This model is particularly beneficial for larger teams gathering for projects, team bonding, deadlines, reviews and using the space together. This model is also useful for managers when trying to manage large teams in an office with a limited number of desks or office space.
The Split-Week model
Perhaps the most favoured work model that we see in our space, the split-week model allows for a split between working remotely and working from the office during the week. This model sees people working from the office two to three times a week and the other days remotely working. Companies choosing this model generally allocate days for departments to come in together to collaborate on projects and stay up to date with their team. For example, on Mondays and Thursdays, the customer support team comes in, while the marketing team is in on Tuesdays and Fridays. And Wednesday is huddle day where everyone comes together on a regular cadence for important company culture, team activities or team meetings. We suggest using Microsoft Teams or Slack to communicate with and manage the teams coming into the office.
We were lucky enough to sit down for our Lunch & Learn: Implementing a Flexible Work Policy with Belinda McLean, Owner & Director of HR Focus who shared her experience and insights on the matter. With over 25 years of experience in the field and being an employer as well as her Human Resources Management experience Belinda has seen both sides and knows exactly what to take into consideration when considering a flexible work policy.
Belinda recommends three key steps when implementing a flexible work policy:
Make bold and deliberate choices - Make sure that you stay focused on the outcome of your decision, and not the income and embrace the many forms of hybrid work. Find the one that suits your needs.
Know where to invest - Decision-makers and leaders who adopt the hybrid approach set the standard and invest in the tools and technologies to safely and effectively set their teams up for success. And don’t forget cyber security! This is especially important when having team members working remotely. This is not the area to cut costs, to successfully run a hybrid work model it’s imperative to make sure that the team is fully equipped with the right tools and equipment. Belinda also recommends maintaining this by regularly reviewing the team's setup and equipment.
Stay committed - TRUST your employees and empower your team and have a culture that supports employee wellbeing by providing the structure's broader life aspirations.
Remember that there is no single perfect work model, it depends on the company leadership and commitment to the model whether it is successful. When implementing a model Belinda recommends having a flexible system and finding out what flexibility actually means for you.
When transitioning back to the office it’s important to implement processes for going back, in her work Belinda has utilised surveys to provide feedback and gauge employees' needs and requirements to successfully transition. You can read more on how to successfully transition your team in our previous blog How To Prepare Your Team For The Office.
It’s also important to note that having a fully remote team can result in missed opportunities that come from networking and can impact employees' career development. Therefore it can be beneficial to encourage employees to participate in social interactions and team-building activities. These activities do not have to be all work-related, to encourage staff back into the office Belinda further recommends focusing on social activities, from rock climbing and team drinks to making your lunchroom more inviting and sharing a meal instead of eating at their desk, to encourage those vital social interactions.
Below we’ve gathered a list of some of Belinda's incentives to encourage team members back in the office:
Flexibility in working hours/days
FlexiTime - start hours/ end times
Food vouchers for local restaurants
Free onsite massages
Transportation- pay for Opal card or parking
Health and Wellbeing incentives - yoga, mediation classes, gym memberships, etc.
Casual attire days - Staff love a mufti day
Jazz up the office - Have breakout areas that are fun/inviting
In this an employee's market culture is everything. And focusing on the value your company brings to their employees is essential. Empower your employees and be an employer of choice - and focus on what you are doing to attract people to your business. Take stock or if you have a clear process and structure on how working for you can impact their careers. Belinda further recommends having stay interviews, rather than exit interviews to evaluate your client and employee satisfaction and improve retention.
Being able to have a desk in a coworking facility like Tank Stream Labs allows for flexibility for employees and decision-makers. Allowing them to implement any type of hybrid model, whether it being a remote-first, at-will or dedicated days in the office. If companies are looking for a more flexible office solution, Tank Stream Labs caters for all businesses regardless of team sizes.
If you have any questions on this content or want to speak with a member of the Tank Stream Labs team and flexible office space, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.