Meredith Schneider for Hive
Hybrid work environments are here to stay. While many companies had hybrid work setups for their workers before Covid set in, it became a logistical necessity across industries as the pandemic spread. People who were able to complete their daily work functions from home were encouraged to do so, and many workplaces saw this as a great stop-gap until the pandemic waned.
But the pandemic never waned the way we needed it to. And still, there are other viruses and concerns that are ravaging the world. (Has anyone heard of monkeypox?) Even without the threat of new dangers as time goes on, many companies noticed distinct benefits to the hybrid working model. As a result, 74% of workplaces in the United States are currently using or planning to work into a permanent hybrid model for their workers.
Let’s step back for a moment here, because hybrid work takes many forms. In essence, this model is the lack of existence of an in-office, 5 days a week, 9-5 schedule. In some offices, that means 3 in-office days per week set by the employee, in others that means a mandatory Monday/Wednesday schedule, and you fill in other days around it. In all cases, it means an employee is free to choose alternate locations to work from and is not required to be in the office for the entire workweek. 63% of high-performing companies have chosen to implement hybrid work options.
Before the pandemic, many executives and CSuite members had privileges that would equate to a hybrid work environment. Flying on company jets to make deals, meeting with reps off-site, enjoying meals on the company’s tab at differing hours of the day and night. In essence, having the ability to do the work in a way that was most productive. Sometimes, that was front-facing with a client. Often, it involved working on a schedule they chose that most aligned with their productivity flow. People who work in sales often had access to these privileges as well.
After experiencing all types of working environments over the past few years, 83% of American workers prefer the idea of a hybrid work model. Having a different way to work allowed people to better evaluate how they work when they felt the most productive, and what they need in an environment to maintain their creative abilities. Here are some notably surprising experiences with hybrid working.
Having the privilege to work from home or in an alternative environment allows an employee to save money. The money and time they may spend on their commute – gas for their automobile, money for their ticket on public transportation, an early cup of coffee for a long drive, etc. – can be invested back into them. Instead of buying 5 cups of coffee a week to help save time in the kitchen for a commute, someone could buy a bag of beans and have that stretch out over weeks at home. And those are just some of the most basic examples.
Not only does this type of work setup help employees save money, but – if it’s scheduled properly – it could help the company save money as well. Perhaps the brand chooses to rent a coworking space or shares the space with another company to cut down on overhead. Maybe the team is encouraged to come in 2-3 days a week and saves money on electricity the other days. If your company’s campus offers perks (as many of our Silicon Valley friends do) like snacks, meals, classes, etc., then they may work a tighter schedule for those offerings and save money in those areas as well.
If your workspace is not properly set up to handle remote communication and project management, then hybrid work could actually have a negative impact on individuals. Even worse, if management does not make themselves continuously available and supportive for their teams, then things can go haywire. And not having your colleagues in your immediate workspace to encourage, lead, and work alongside can be really offputting if that’s the environment you are used to.
No matter what work climate you find yourself in, it is imperative to find out the communication preferences of your immediate coworkers and management. This way, you know how they prefer to receive communication: via email, direct message, text, phone call, in-person, or otherwise. This leads to less stress around how to approach collaborations, demonstrates that you care about their boundaries, and allows your messaging to be received well.
While the results-only work environment (ROWE) framework can work wonders for teams looking to channel productivity, there needs to be an established, reliable way for managers to check in on an individual level. It’s no surprise that 87% of employees believe in-office work is still paramount for collaboration and relationship-building.
If your manager has less face time with you and does not have the bandwidth to check into who is completing each task and at what level or rate, then they are at a disadvantage. And if your accomplishments aren’t being noted or recognized, then how can you experience any growth within the company? Unfortunately, leaning into remote work during the week while others choose to work from the office can lead to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Visibility bias is real (as is proximity bias), and people who work remotely in their hybrid setup could be at a disadvantage when it comes to advancements and promotions.
Being exposed to different work environments and personalities throughout the week can actually help each individual worker gain a different perspective. Be it a person who inspires a new project, an individual who offers creative feedback at a coffee shop, or the perfect sunset from your home office, inspiration can be found in some of the most unlikely places. These different perspectives can help the team form better ideas and create a product, brand, or campaign that connects with a different or wider audience.
Hybrid work can be an expansive opportunity for brands the world around. Plus, 55% of employees would prefer to work remotely at least 3 days a week. While implementing the technology and skills necessary to move toward that goal could present some obstacles, there are clear benefits to switching.
Erin P.S. Zimmerman is a creative who began her hybrid work schedule prior to the pandemic. Some of her work required her to be on-site, but having the ability to create flexibility in her schedule proved to be really helpful. This was especially true in the weeks leading up to her grandmother’s death. “I was able to spend most days of my grandma’s last month with her.”
Not only that, but she has been able to work through her task list at her own pace. This has allowed her the space to connect with nature, work on her own personal ritual, and connect with her family on a more consistent basis. Her take? “[Hybrid work presents] more opportunity to make work fit around life.”
Companies and workers should get clear on what they’d like out of their ideal career. Then, approach candidates, employers, and potential employers with the benefits you see in the work environment you are most attached to. Encouraging open lines of communication and making the experience equitable for all from the beginning is half of the work.
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