Hybrid work: profitable or rather ineffective?

The hybrid work model has enemies everywhere. Why? What's the problem? In the Financial Times article entitled It's time to admit that hybrid is not working, journalist Camilla Cavendish introduces the issue with this subtitle: Mid-morning yoga comes at the expense of professional interactions and employee productivity.

In other words: "The mid-morning yoga session ends up affecting professional interactions and employee productivity". The idea is clear. There is a growing feeling among executives and managers that, in the end, the worker performs less well at home than in the office.

In our previous post we wondered what the office should be like at work so that the employee really feels at ease working there. It is clear that it is necessary to make it attractive, comfortable and efficient, so that the employee wants to spend time in that space. Now let's focus on hybrid work: is it profitable or does it turn out to be infective?

The problem of hybrid work

The truth is that, when it comes to the most suitable work model, there are no magic formulas, even if they are sold at paperback prices. Moreover, it so happens that each sector of the economy has its own characteristics, if not each company.

The work model has to adapt to the organization, not the other way around. And if it is necessary to go down to the individual case, it may be worth the effort. Hybrid work does not respond to a mathematical formula.

We often hear the following statement: "If you work half the time at home and half the time in the office, you have a hybrid job. The quote comes from an article titled "Why is hybrid work the worst option?" Already the title denotes how the mood is. And yet, the development of the article shows that the problem is not the hybrid job itself, but how it is applied, i.e. the nuances of each specific case.

One might ask whether we are culturally prepared to deal with work models that differ from those in which we have been brought up.

Introducing nuances

In fact, the hybrid work model does not respond to an exact 50% of the time worked at home (or wherever), and 50% in the office. The fractions of time are ultimately the least important thing, the most important thing is that flexibility is a principle and that there is always the possibility of working remotely when appropriate, or in the office when there is no other choice... or simply preferred.

Making the employee feel that he or she is part of the decision and can practice autonomy is part of the flexibility that is essential for hybrid work to be satisfactory for both parties. The question here is whether to work by the hour or by results. If the important thing is the results, then there should be no major problem as to how these results are achieved, always in an orderly fashion, of course.

Let's take a look at some really decisive aspects in order to decide which work model best suits the company and the employee:

Residence of talent

What determines the choice of a worker, his place of residence or his talent, his ability to perform the work expected of him? If the model is necessarily face-to-face, the worker will be obliged to reside at a reasonable distance from the office, otherwise commuting times will be unaffordable.

But if what is important is talent, a hybrid model or, if necessary, a completely remote one, allows access to a larger number of potential employees and therefore increases the company's reach.

Evolution of the office

The office understood in a traditional sense is not a rising value. The digital transformation as a challenge taken up by all societies in industrialized countries is bringing new technologies to every corner of business activity. In some cases, this is a simple evolution, but in many others it is a real transformation.

The ten trends in office work and The Future of Work are two of our most recent publications, in which we analyze in detail the evolution of the traditional office towards the 5.0 office. In this conception of the workspace, hybrid work is one of the fundamental structures.

Evolution of working hours

The direct consequence of the introduction of remote and hybrid work models is the shift from time-bound work to work by results, where the employee decides how to organize his or her time.

At home, in a cybercafé, at the beach, in the mountains...

The question of where the work performed outside the office "should" take place is not a minor issue. It tends to be taken for granted that at home, at one's own home, but the truth is that the place is the least important thing, as long as the right conditions are met.

Big-Brother-style Boss

It also happens that there are managers for whom direct supervision of their equipment, and even being able to look at it with their eyes, is more important than any other consideration. The fact is that the same technologies that make remote work possible also offer numerous solutions for supervision and monitoring, within the bounds of legality and "normality", of course.

Socialization versus de-location

One of the less desirable consequences of remote work and certain hybrid work models is the dislocation it can cause for the employee and the lack of opportunities to engage in more personal relationships with members of the organization. To counteract these effects, it is necessary to organize virtual meetings as well as physical meetings for the team to get to know each other and exchange all kinds of views.

Other negative aspects of hybrid working

We summarize the other negative aspects related to hybrid work that need to be taken into account to ensure that the model works:

- Presence of young children when working at home.

- Also at home, it is necessary to work in a suitable space and with suitable furniture.

- Insecurity regarding the correct application of the model.

- Inefficiency and noise in hybrid meetings.

- Lack of supervision.

- Lack of knowledge of the technology.

New technologies related to remote work and hybrid work

Technology is just another tool, and if you think of it as a tool at the service of people, the new technologies that are revolutionizing the way we work around the world can enter fully into "innovation through people" strategies.

Innovating in hybrid work models customized for our organization and for each employee, means taking advantage of the employee's personality: the same job, with the same conditions, in the same company... you will find a worker who develops it without any problem in the office and another worker who prefers to practice a hybrid or remote model.

New technologies offer us tools and solutions that just a few years ago would have seemed like science fiction. But today they are very real. Mixed reality (the union of virtual reality and augmented reality) is already introducing important innovations in business management and work processes. These are the most relevant elements of these innovations:

- Adaptability

- Scalability

- Support and maintenance

- Planning

- Process optimization

- Worker empowerment

- Process simulation

- Customer experience improvement

After all, the hybrid work model is a work process that is part of all the necessary steps to run a business. The tools and solutions that augmented reality offers to coordinate and organize spaces and teams are essential for the correct implementation of hybrid work models. We highlight the following benefits of this specific technology:

- Optimized coordination of organizational resources.

- Optimized management of meeting spaces, workstations and parking spaces

- Hot desking

- Reward and gamification strategies

- Integration of face-to-face, telecommuting and hybrid models

- Virtual meetings, remote booking and check-in management

Profitability and sustainability of hybrid work on data

When it comes to examining data, we can bring up the following data related to the cost-effectiveness and savings of hybrid and remote work:

- Savings for the enterprise. A study by Global Workplace Analytics showed in 2020 that companies could save between €1,000 and €5,000 per year per employee by implementing remote and even hybrid work models, depending on the case. But real estate savings could reach €9,200 per employee.

- Savings for the employee. For their part, employees can save between 2,000 and 4,000 euros per year.

- Benefits for human resources management. Currently, the most in-demand jobs are those that allow hybrid work models. And let's not forget that the main cause of talent drain, in addition to salary, is labor flexibility.

- Environmental benefits. The data here are truly impressive. Taking the U.S. as a benchmark, the Global Wokplace report states that the U.S. economy loses around $78 billion annually in traffic jams alone. And traffic jams produce up to 26 million additional tons of greenhouse gases.

Hybrid work as a model for work-life balance and well-being

All the studies and surveys conducted on hybrid and remote work models provide data on a reality that is still in the process of development. We can conclude by listing the qualitative factors of these models integrated with the benefits of the so-called "emotional wage":

- Flexibility

- Freedom, independence and autonomy

- Opportunities for growth

- Technology at the service of people

- Conciliation

- Well-being

- Happiness

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