As companies began adopting hybrid work models, people experienced but couldn't explicitly identify the challenges of hybrid work. As employees return to work in droves, hybrid work challenges are visible and easy to identify.
Because of these hybrid work challenges, employers are now trying to find solutions and tools for creating a strong hybrid work culture to make it more engaging and productive.
In this post, we'll examine the benefits and challenges of hybrid work models and provide solutions and tools like Scribe to overcome them.
What is hybrid work?
Hybrid work is a flexible work model that supports a blend of remote, in-office and on-the-go work. Employees get the autonomy to choose to work where and how they are most engaged and productive.
In a hybrid work model, businesses have both remote and in-house employees. This gives employees greater flexibility and allows them to choose where and how to work for greater productivity.
What does the standard hybrid work model look like?
Hybrid work allows employees to work from home, in coworking spaces or in the office depending on the job's needs and preferences. Team members can also migrate between various work locations.
The standard hybrid work model usually consists of two categories of employees:
- A core team of in-house employees who are responsible for business operations.
- A team of remote employees who work from home or other locations and come into the office on select business days.
The remote team is usually responsible for tasks that can be done remotely, such as network administration, customer service, marketing or sales. When and where work gets done in hybrid work models depends on what makes the most sense to employees.
Hybrid vs. fully in-house work vs. fully remote
A hybrid work model allows employees (some) to work remotely while others (usually essential employees) work on-site at the office. Remote workers have the flexibility of choosing when to come on-site. The business decides which employees can work remotely and which to be fully in-house.
A fully in-house work model is where employees work on-site, full-time. All employees must be present in the company's office location (or defined office) to complete their work.
Fully remote work is where a company (often remote company) only has employees work remotely, and no employee is in-house. All the company's employees follow a remote work (or work-from-home) model where they work virtually off-site without a centralized, physical office, including working in different time zones.
Why do companies use hybrid work models?
One thing is certain about the future of work: hybrid work model isn't a temporary or stop-gap work, but the future of work. The factors driving hybrid work are:
- Remote work has proven successful: As per McKinsey, companies have seen notable improvements in individual productivity, diversity and inclusion resulting from hybrid work.
- Employees are demanding more work flexibility: Dimensional Research found that 57 percent of employees would consider leaving their company if they must return to the office full-time.
- Opportunity to reduce office and travel expenses: As per Fortune, 74 percent of large organizations' CEOs prefer hybrid work to reduce office space and costs.
- Technology support. Most modern technologies ease the transition to hybrid work by allowing easy data capture, management and analysis from all teams, regardless of location. Employees can also communicate and collaborate, no matter their location.
Benefits of hybrid work
There are many benefits to using a hybrid work model. The major ones are:
- People first. The main benefit is that it's a people-first approach, allowing workers to have more work-life balance and businesses to have a more flexible, engaged and productive workforce.
- A wide pool of people to hire from. Businesses have a wide pool of individuals globally to hire the best employees, regardless of location. This makes talent acquisition easy and boosts company performance. To get these benefits of having an international team, businesses can use professional PEO companies in India, Turkey, or wherever they want to hire from, to find the perfect candidates that would fit the company's culture.
- Freedom to choose where to work, reducing burnout and fatigue.
- Increased employee productivity. Employees can be flexible and work in fulfilling and effective ways, resulting in increased productivity. Several factors contribute to increased productivity from hybrid work; increased autonomy to choose where to work and when to come to the office, fewer interruptions when working from home than in-office or the ability to schedule and repurpose commuting time (socialization time).
- Reduced office overhead costs and expenses. With fewer employees in the office, companies can reduce office space or move offices to smaller cities, resulting in lower overhead expenses, including the cost of office supplies.
- Better work-life balance and employee experience. Improved work-life balance is a major advantage of hybrid work. Employees have realized that hybrid arrangements improve personal well-being and work productivity due to autonomy and flexibility of work. Hybrid employees have more time now to spend time and take care of their family. For example, parents can now spend more time playing with their kids, and dog owners have the flexibility to take their family terriers, golden retrievers or lovely catahoula bulldog on longer walks. This increases job satisfaction, happiness and overall work performance.
9 major challenges of hybrid work models
Every business will face different challenges in making a hybrid work model work. But there are shared hybrid work challenges that all organizations may face.
Creating the right hybrid model & hybrid work environment
Each company must create a hybrid model specific to their teams and needs. This includes creating the right environment for in-house staff without feeling like you're wasting space and resources. This process can be iterative as you combine different strategies, policies and technologies to find the best fit for your company's situation and culture.
Inequality between hybrid teams & in-house employees
Teams working remotely and those working in-house may have some inequalities. For example, frontline workers working in-house may feel they're doing the business' heavy work while remote teams relax at home, which may not be the case. Equally, remote employees may feel excluded from business conversations and decisions because of their lack of physical presence.
Less access to work equipment & resources
In a hybrid work model, remote teams may often lack access to work equipment and resources such as computers, networks, conference tools and more. This may hinder their performance and productivity. For example, home offices that are not fully functional can reduce personal productivity and hinder collaboration between remote and on-site workers.
Challenge in managing split teams
In hybrid work models, it's more difficult to coordinate split teams, tasks, work schedules, timelines or locations, because of different work schedules, days in the office and sometimes time zones. Your remote employees may feel less recognized, isolated or unseen. They are less likely to receive a bonus and different opportunities than those working in-house.
Employees feel less connected to the organization's culture
Historically, companies develop office culture through office rituals dependent on all employees working in-house. But when the workforce is hybrid, the office culture is open to influence from outside and may be watered down. Remote employees may feel less connected with the company culture due to staying away from physical events.
"Remote work has unique challenges, and organizing integrating events is one of the most helpful ways to overcome them. These events give colleagues an opportunity to build relationships, exchange ideas, and feel connected to each other in a way that simply cannot be achieved through video calls or emails" says the HR manager at HotSlots.io.
Regardless of a business's best intentions, onboarding new hires can be overwhelming in hybrid work models. Fully remote teams may be more affected because of the lack of physical touch. Trying to embed a new hire into the company culture and internal processes may take longer in hybrid models, especially if they split their time between in-house work and working from home.
Decreased team collaboration & disrupted processes
Collaboration at the workplace was easier when everyone was working physically in-house. With hybrid work, employees can't be at the office or in the same place at the same time. For example, people have different work schedules at different times, some in different time zones. This disrupts processes and collaboration on tasks, projects and performance.
Impaired working relationships with coworkers
Hybrid work also challenges teamwork and relationships among coworkers. While, on-site work allows coworkers to spend time together in the office, building relationships and collaborating on tasks, hybrid work lacks this opportunity.
Inconsistent communication across the business
With hybrid work, there are communication glitches across teams, departments and management. Recruiter says this is the main factor in employee morale, makes them miss important business communications and slows down workflow and collaboration. Furthermore, since over 90 percent of communication is non-verbal and is transmitted through body language and cues, remote workers in hybrid systems may miss important communications.
Solutions & tools for having a strong hybrid work culture
Thanks to technology, businesses can use many solutions and tools to overcome the challenges of hybrid work. Let’s discuss them below.
Create an effective hybrid work environment
You must keep the work environment effective even when fewer people come on-site. This includes ensuring on-site and remote teams have the resources they need to stay functional and productive. You can reduce the office size by renting out your office space to other organizations. You can lease coworking spaces for your remote teams who spend days or months before coming to the office or create a functional working desk for those working from home.
Develop & maintain a remote-compatible work culture
To maintain the company culture, you need to create a strong hybrid work culture. Ensure equal in-house and remote employee visibility. Establish collaboration opportunities and provide fair work, benefits and development opportunities. For example.
- Ensure employees can attend celebrations and events by establishing virtual events.
- Establish a sound, remote communication structure, healthy boundaries, inclusivity and a culture of psychological safety.
- Give employees opportunities to make small connections through team working, coaching, brainstorming, mentorship, socialization, etc.
Define in-house vs. remote work policies
A hybrid work model needs clarification and defined policies separate from in-house work. Some of the important considerations are:
- How, where and when the employees should work. For example, choosing which 3 days of the week to work remotely and when to come on-site.
- Define basic equipment, infrastructure and internet requirements for hybrid work, including security details.
- Define how to attend weekly huddle meetings.
- Define employee tracking, productivity, working hours and tools.
- Define tasks, project management and standard operating procedures.
- Explain modes of communication for both on-site and hybrid workers.
- Define apps and websites considered productive or unproductive during working hours.
- The rules and policies should be crystal clear, stating the company's expectations of hybrid and in-house workers.
Define project management tools & platforms for collaboration
Define and provide employees with project management and improvement tools and platforms to facilitate teamwork, collaboration and communication.
You will invest in quality virtual workspace tools that support project organization, teamwork, collaboration, remote communication and live document sharing.
Scribe top tIp: Using project management tools like Trello, Scribe for document sharing, Zoho, Notion, Monday.com, etc. can facilitate project management, improve employee performance and enable employees to work collaboratively.
Quality process documentation
Hybrid work models and teams rely on process documentation to get things done. For example, IT teams can document task completion processes (standard operating procedures (SOPs) for in-house and remote teams to help them complete tasks properly. Other SOPs in an organization can include filing an expense report, checklists, training manuals, onboarding a new employee, customer onboarding and more.
Creating process documentation requires a quality process documentation tool like Scribe. Scribe can help automate the SOP creation process and improve its outcome. You can also use Scribe pages to create templates for future document creation.
Create efficient communication
Establish efficient communication channels to ensure hybrid and on-site workers receive important communications and prevent employees from missing out on spontaneous communication.
Remote communication and collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, UberConference and more can come in handy when you want to deliver messages. In Slack, for instance, you can create channels to reach specific team members, channels or groups for particular tasks.
When possible, deliver all formal communication in person or through video conferences. Also, use open communication to boost employee morale, and instant messaging channels to encourage organized and regular communication across teams to prevent communication silos.
Effective team management & collaboration
In a hybrid work model, there may be misalignment between remote and in-office employees. You can manage all employees effectively and align company operations, communication and team collaboration using the following ideas.
- Set specific days for remote teams to come into the office for in-office work and make those days focus on collaboration.
- Create different but equal benefits for in-house and remote employees, including celebrations and meetings, so that nobody feels left out or isolated.
- Give all employees equal access to career development, including promotions, bonuses, evaluation based on work and not process outcomes, pay raises and more.
- Use an asynchronous communication style, where you expect team members to respond to communications after some time. Instead, you provide employees (remote and on-site) with all the information they need to complete tasks, and they'll do based on their schedules.
- Equip employees with productivity tools related to a project or task to enable them to work efficiently. For instance, you can add notes, requirements, links, specifications, SOPs and more using Scribe Pages to help employees work efficiently.
Quality knowledge base management
A knowledge base is an information repository or an online storehouse. It's a centralized critical information place about company-wide policies, projects, tasks, offerings and more.
Use wiki software that allows employees to create, add, edit, organize, share or remove content online without many tussles. An example of such Wiki software is Scribe, which provides the following benefits:
- Collaboration. A knowledge base to collaborate, share insights and create experiences.
- Document storage and easy access. Store employee and customer Onboarding and Training documents for easy referencing.
- Alignment of company best practices through documented SOPs, collective knowledge, insights and overall best practices for teams.
- Customer Self-Service portal where they find FAQs, user manuals, information, processes, etc., about the company.
- Retain Employee Knowledge. Wikis are a point of reference for information and knowledge.
Effective training &onboarding
Regardless of a business's best intentions, the onboarding process in hybrid work models can be overwhelming for new hires.
A good onboarding process always has several pluses, including:
- New processes.
- Effective training.
- Increased engagement levels.
- ew culture,
- learning the job and more.
You need to find new solutions to make the onboarding process work well in a hybrid environment. Always emphasize personal connections using 1-to-1 introductions, a culture of teamwork, collaboration, and feedback. Also, encourage new hires' involvement in non-work chats and activities.
You can use a knowledge base tool like Scribe to onboard new hires. Scribe can help you create onboarding templates, how-to guides and dynamic visual work instructions.
Scribe is a smart process documentation tool that turns any workflow into a step-by-step guide. Simpy turn on the extension, go through your process and watch Scribe work its magic to auto-generate written instructions. Here's a Scribe in action.
And with Scribe Pages, you can combine your guides with videos, images and more. Create training materials, job aids and even onboarding documentation at the click of a button. Here's an example of an onboarding guide made with Pages.
Hybrid work environment best practices
Hybrid work is about enabling productivity without costing employees work-life balance or the company growth and performance. For success in hybrid work models, companies can use the following hybrid work best practices:
Get early employee buy-in
Use transparent communication early and often. Clearly communicate the value of a hybrid work model for business growth. Enable managers to answer team questions effectively and create hybrid workplace policies that support productivity, performance and growth.
Investing in the right tools, equipment and technology
Implement productivity and communication tools that are friendly to use, mobile-enabled, versatile and device-agnostic. Provide employees with equipment and resources for healthy, safe and productive work from home, such as functional monitors, supportive desk chairs, internet, training tools and more.
Employee experience & work culture
Focusing the hybrid work model on employee experience and maintaining an engaging, positive work culture. Get employee feedback and demonstrate action for their health, inclusion and well-being.
Team check & progress meetings
Encourage employee performance and career progression. This can be done by holding consistent individual team check-ins, career progress meetings, coaching and opportunities for career growth. Utilize technology and platforms that allow video conferencing and collaboration.
Continuous learning & education opportunities
Offer continuous education opportunities, career growth and learning for employees and managers alike. Ensure you communicate available learning, upskilling, reskilling and development opportunities for managers and employees across the organization.
Conclusion: the hybrid work benefits outweigh the challenges
There are many benefits and challenges of hybrid work. However, with the right tools and solutions, businesses can overcome the challenges and reap the benefits of this work model. Better hybrid work practices can also improve hybrid work models, employee performance and company growth.
Use Scribe for training and onboarding, process documentation, document sharing and collaboration to create an effective hybrid work environment.