There's no consensus across industries about the best type of work arrangements for the post-pandemic era. The hybrid model can bring the best (and the worst) of both worlds. Employees are not fully on-site but are not fully remote either. For organizations, understanding the technology needs of end users and how it affects their productivity becomes more crucial than ever to ensure quality employee experiences, no matter where they are working from.
What's the Hybrid Work Paradox?
Such is the complexity of this new model that Microsoft calls it the "hybrid work paradox.” The reason is that employees want both:
- The flexibility of remote work.
- The type of collaboration that comes with in-person interactions.
Employers are responding. Major enterprises such as Microsoft and Ford Motor Company have announced that they are embracing a hybrid workplace model.
The Benefits of Hybrid Work Environments
The hybrid model is all about giving employees the flexibility of working from home a few days a week. As well as the evident rewards for workers, businesses also benefit from:
Reduced Operational Costs
Hybrid work contributes to reduced operational costs for organizations. For example, less office space is required when you have fewer employees on-site at a given time.
Higher Employee Satisfaction
Offering more flexible work arrangements might be an indication that the company cares about the workforce's needs, and an opportunity to foster employee's loyalty. A hybrid working model helps to improve the trust between employer and employee. Being able to choose where and when to work has a positive impact on employee satisfaction.
Less Time Commuting
For some remote workers, a hybrid model means more family time because it eliminates the need to commute every single workday. A survey by Upwork showed that employees working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic saved an average of 49.6 minutes a day in the United States. Cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco are notorious for challenging traffic and long commute time. Commute stress is a strong reason for people wanting jobs with more flexibility.
Increased Employee Retention
Organizations are offering more flexible work arrangements as a way to retain or attract new employees. A hybrid model is also an opportunity to increase the reach of a company's potential talent pool.
Let's Get to Work | Remote Work Experience E-book
What's the Great Resignation of 2021?
More flexibility about the work location is also pushing the so-called "Great Resignation." This trend has to do with people quitting their current jobs at much higher rates than normal.
Microsoft research shows that 41% of the global workforce is considering leaving their current employers this year. For 46%, this decision is driven by the ability to work remotely.
Higher turnover trends also reinforce the importance of delivering a superior digital experience to maintain an engaged workforce. Happy employees are less likely to leave.
Why Companies Might Want to Return to the Office
Working from home has its own challenges, which tend to vary by industry.
Reduced Reliance On Technology
Going back to the office could help to minimize the digital exhaustion felt by many employees. With the pandemic, the number of virtual meetings has increased significantly.
Stronger Corporate Culture
Many teams have become more siloed with remote work, and some employees might want to go back to the office to increase the sense of belonging. Face-to-face interactions, spontaneous chats and immediate responses all contribute to fostering strong communication, workplace relationships, and corporate culture.
More Collaboration and Innovation
In-person meetings help to foster innovation, too. In fact, according to Lakeside Software's latest research on the future of work, 45% of employees believe that teamwork and collaboration are less effective in a remote setting.
Lower Cybersecurity Risks
For companies, the return to the office might also increase cybersecurity and data privacy protection. Lakeside's research indicates that, when it comes to remote work, cybersecurity vulnerabilities are a concern for seven out of 10 financial institutions.
The Hybrid Working Model Poses Unique Questions
Here are few questions that come with hybrid workforce models:
- How does a hybrid model affect operational costs?
- Where are employees more productive?
- How many days per week should employees be in the office?
- Which type of work is better done virtually or on-site?
- How often should teams meet in person?
- Should companies evaluate and reward remote and on-site employees in the same way?
- How can companies guarantee the same level of employee experience for those working remotely and in the office?
The answers to these questions depend on the organization and its employees. Microsoft's research points out that 58% of employees who plan to spend the most time and the least time in the office give the same reason for that preference: the ability to get more focused work done.
Workforce of the Future: Trends to Transform Employee Experience
The Best Type of Workplace to Boost Employee Productivity
According to Lakeside's research on digital workplaces, half of surveyed employees said that distraction is a remote work challenge. Many workers, however, consider themselves more productive when working from home.
The type of work conditions that one has at home has an impact, too. Some workers might live alone or have a private workspace with no disruptions from children and pets. Others have to work from the kitchen table along with other family members.
In some cases, employees might feel they can focus better in the office to separate their personal and professional lives more effectively. Others might struggle to concentrate on-site, especially if it's a noisy, open-plan work environment.
Enhanced Digital Experience is Key to a Productive and Engaged Workforce
Employee productivity is crucial to help organizations meet their business key performance indicators (KPIs). Ensuring that employees have the necessary tools and conditions to perform their jobs at their best is the reason why more companies are investing in digital experience management (DEM).
DEM solutions can help alleviate the technology-related burden of remote work, increase employee productivity, and reduce IT costs. According to the Forrester Employee Experience Index, 30% of an employee's overall experience is represented by workplace technology.
Technology-Related Remote Work Challenges
The reliance on technology to ensure business continuity with remote work emphasizes the importance of prioritizing digital experience. Many remote work challenges are associated with technology or IT support. Typical issues include:
- Dropped video calls
- Cloud-service outages
- Slow internet connectivity
- High CPU consumption
- Blue screen of death
- Virtual private network (VPN) issues
- Lack of help desk responsiveness
However, many of those problems could be resolved or even prevented with the right digital workplace experience software, such as Lakeside's Digital Experience Cloud, powered by SysTrack.
IT and Workforce Need to Be on the Same Page
Lakeside's survey indicates IT leaders anticipate that only a third of workers will work remotely after the pandemic. However, the same study reveals that more than half of employees expect a hybrid working arrangement. This disconnect between IT and the workforce is concerning because it might leave organizations unprepared to meet the needs of a dispersed workforce.
DEM tools, such as Lakeside's Digital Experience Cloud, can help bridge the gap between IT and the workforce. Our cloud-based solution provides the visibility IT teams need to collect experience data through an endpoint agent and analyze performance from that vantage point — whether people work remotely or in the office. Organizations can take proactive measures to automate IT operations, improve the support desk efficiency, and enhance the digital workplace employee experience.
John Lynch is the head of content at Lakeside Software. With more than 15 years experience in global content marketing, John has helped organizations deliver strong ROI through multi-channel B2B marketing, digital strategies, and creative content. He is currently based out of Lakeside's Boston office.