For the work world, COVID-19 may be remembered as the time of the ‘deep think’. It kickstarted meaningful thought processes for many managers and employees, who re-evaluated what they want from life, work and career.

It even caused ‘The Great Resignation’, with big impacts for employees and employers. That includes what to do when your employees want to negotiate a hybrid model of working.

What is the hybrid model?

Forbes Magazine reports that the hybrid model is the ‘new normal’ for many businesses. It’s formed by teams working in a mixed way. Some employees want to work on-site full-time. Some want to be part-time in the office and part-time remotely. Still others want to work outside the office all the time. Many variations are available and the amount of part-time work employees work can differ, as can the days of the week involved.

The hybrid model isn’t necessarily new but the percentage of employees wanting the flexibility to work across more than one location has increased substantially since the pandemic hit. And experts say it’s a permanent fixture of the future work world.

Benefits of the hybrid model—employees

From an employee perspective, working remotely part time and in the office part time has benefits such as saving money on the daily transport commute. Other benefits  include saving money on childcare and the flexibility to decide when to work.

Many employees find the hybrid model provides better work-life balance. They save time getting ready for work and travelling to and from work. They find they have more time to take proper breaks and get some fresh air at lunch. Parents often get great joy out of being able to greet the kids when they get home from school.

Benefits of the hybrid model—employers

From an employer perspective—if managed well—the hybrid model doesn’t have to negatively affect productivity. Indeed, in some cases, employees working different times can position businesses to better drive timelines and deadlines. It can help boost morale and help with retention if employees feel their workplace is flexible and caring enough to want to support them. And it can save employers from spending a huge amount on recruitment.

Another important benefit is the opportunity to save money, with some organisations able to reduce the amount of expensive office space they require. Some studies also point to how organisations save money through reduced exposure to illness.

Is the hybrid model for every business?

The hybrid model doesn’t suit every business or organisation. Modern organisations, however, are smart enough to know that it’s worth exploring ways to implement the model if employees are increasingly asking for a blend.

Not doing so, especially in a candidate-led market where there’s more jobs than skilled people to fill those jobs, could mean you’ll lose out on the valuable, knowledgeable, expert employees you’ve heavily invested in.

How do you go about examining a hybrid model?

Conduct some research

Employers need to be on top of what makes employees tick and what motivates them to stay instead of leaving for greener pastures.

These two expert articles are full of ideas:

Top tips for keeping your top talent

Employers: Work perks employees will love

Survey your employees

A healthy discussion on hybrid models starts with gathering facts. Don’t be shy about surveying your employees:

  • Would they look for another job if they can’t have a hybrid approach?
  • What type of hybrid are they looking for and how do they see it working?
  • What are their views on the benefits for them as employees?
  • What are their views on the benefits for the organisation?
  • What tools and equipment would help them operate efficiently under the model?

Analyse survey results and have a discussion

Once you’ve collected data, brainstorm the practicalities of applying a hybrid model with staff.

If certain approaches won’t work, explain why not. If some approaches will work, but require a phased-in approach, discuss that in detail. If certain approaches are feasible, talk about an implementation plan.

Be clear that monitoring a hybrid model is essential, so tell employees you’ll gather continual feedback. Commit to recapping how matters are working in, say, six months and inform employees that adjustments will be made if required (for both parties).

Other tips

face2face Managing Director, Kate Prior, says there’s a great deal employers can do to implement a hybrid model and other ways to motivate staff to stay with them. She shares some of these in Employers: The Great Resignation.

Remember

  1. A hybrid model of working is increasingly popular so don’t be rigid and inflexible about assessing possibilities.
  2. Replacing great staff is a costly exercise, so do what you can to keep your top talent.
  3. Think laterally about possibilities. Employers that make it obvious they’re ‘closed off’ to modern shifts in the workplace aren’t favoured by employees.
  4. Be practical and explain to staff why you’ve taken the decisions you have. If everyone wants Mondays and Fridays off, for example, that might not suit.