When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, offices quickly slipped into remote mode with employees logging in from their homes. Video meetings supported by conference call transcription services became the norm, allowing team meetings and other activities to proceed smoothly without losing effectiveness. Companies learnt that while routine tasks that involve coordination and collaboration can be done virtually, face-to-face meetings continue to be important for problem solving, building rapport with clients, developing a strong culture, and connecting with people on a deeper level. Now, with offices opening up, people are asking if the future of work is a hybrid environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a permanent change in the way we work. Experts say that flexible work or a hybrid work culture or is here to stay. A CNBC survey found that about 50 percent of US companies are considering pursuing the hybrid work model. This has prompted discussions about technology, collaboration and productivity.
The hybrid work model is one that allows employees to combine working in the physical office with working remotely. Companies across the world have come up with different variants of this model based on what will benefit both employers and employees so that they get the best of both worlds. An April 2021 survey of remote workers by Zoom found that 65% of respondents preferred the remote work model and only 15% said they wanted to work from home all the time.
Different Types of Remote and Hybrid Work Models
Here are 5 emerging hybrid and remote work models:
- Office centric: In office-centric hybrid companies, employees have to come to the office most of the time, though they can choose to work from another location on one or two days each week.
- Fully flexible hybrid: In this model, employees can choose when they want to work come to the office and when they want to work from another location.
- Remote-friendly hybrid: Here there are restrictions on which employees can work remotely. Most may be required to come to the office all the time, while others may be allowed to work remotely full-time.
- Hybrid remote-office: Employees can choose from various options which usually include a remote option, a flexible work option, and an in-office option.
- Virtual-first: This arrangement usually involves most employees working remotely either from their homes or other settings.
Top companies that have opted for hybrid work include Ford, Microsoft, Citigroup, Spotify, Amazon, Okta, Allen & Overy, Apple, and American Express. Ford has adopted a flexible hybrid work model. Citigroup has implemented a 50% division between remote/hybrid and in office. Amazon is looking at an office centric model and is laying a standard of a minimum of three days a week in the office.
Key Considerations for a Successful Hybrid Workplace
Companies need to build a strong hybrid work culture that enables employees to adapt to this new way of working. Here are some important considerations for the success of a hybrid workplace:
- Type and mix of team tasks: The success of the remote work model depends on how tasks are segregated between the virtual and physical setting. According to an MIT Sloan Management Review article referencing the Future of Work survey, tasks that can continue to be done virtually include reporting, performing administrative tasks, making simple decisions, sharing information, drafting documents, and performing financial analyses. These activities don’t require much integration. On the other hand, essential tasks that require team members to combine their knowledge, achieve breakthrough innovation, discuss and solve difficult issues in a safe space, and build culture can be more done effectively only in person.
- New leadership skills: Managing the new hybrid work environment requires distinctive leadership skills. In fact, companies need leaders who can successfully operate in both modes – the virtual coordination mode and the face-to-face collaboration mode (sloanreview.mit.edu/). By establishing goals, tracking progress, sharing information, and maintaining connections, team leaders will need to effectively manage their remote workforce so that employees stay focused and productive. Open communication can reduce the need for micromanagement. While operating in the face-to-face collaboration mode, leaders will need to promote deep learning, innovation, acculturation, and dedication. They need to implement strategies to boost collaboration while ensuring that their actions are in the best interests of their employees and the organization.
- Visibility and inclusivity: A hybrid work culture will be successful only if remote work is ensured visibility. When working from home, people should be given the opportunity to share their work experiences and concerns. Using tracking software is a good option to monitor and provide visibility for key pointers like schedules, overtime work, hours worked, etc. Likewise, an inclusive work culture is essential to succeed in a hybrid workplace. This is important to create a sense of belonging in an environment where people may not be physically working with and meeting each other all the time. Having company get-togethers to establish bonding is a good idea in the hybrid scenario.
- Transparency and trust: In a hybrid model, building transparency and trust matters a lot in order to maintain a seamless workflow and productivity. There must be clear and transparent policies for every employee. It’s important to build transparency clarity and consistency in any communication about work updates. Negotiating working hours should be done in a way that it does not affect the benefit of hybrid working. Virtual teams can also socialize via Zoom meetings to get to know each other better. Building trust within the team can overcome many unnecessary hassles and difficulties.
- The right tools and communication channels: Well-established processes and communication with the right technology are critical for the success of hybrid work. Effective video conferencing processes supported by efficient audio transcription are indispensable. Tools that allow for asynchronous collaboration are also being widely implemented. However, a Harvard Business Review article points out that hybrid work is much more than just online meetings and recommends that organizations should have technology that is adaptable and flexible for any role, working style, collaboration method, device, and geographic location.
As the hybrid model evolves, there will be greater clarity on the factors essential for its success. As a business transcription company, we are committed to ensuring quick, accurate and secure transcription of meetings, conferences, workshops, presentations to support hybrid and remote work policies.