Simply put, hybrid work can be defined as the combination of remote work and in-office work. Hybrid work concepts have been in the making during the last decade, but these concepts have become fast-growing trends worldwide, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The necessity and safety needs of companies and employees due to the Covid-19 health pandemic also resulted in an overall increase in work-life balance and productivity and the chance to re-evaluate the “traditional office” work environment.
Before the pandemic, many business owners and managers were wary of a remote-first hybrid work model, or fully remote operating model, because it seemed like a sure-fire way to decrease productivity levels.
That wasn’t the case, as case studies can show, as well as surveys of U.S. employers and workers, like PwC’s ‘U.S. Remote Work Survey,’ which found that in December 2020, 52% of empoyers considered remote work to result in increased productivity.
Flexibility Increases Employee Productivity
For many employees, a flexible work location and flexible schedule increase productivity levels and overall morale. A daily office location to work from along with an unbending schedule may work for some, but we found that the flexibility to work from home, run errands, take the kids or a parent to the doctor or simply cut loose for the afternoon and finish tasks later makes their lives less stressful and can increase the quality of their work. Happier teams make for not only a more positive workplace but lead to more improved customer experiences and outcomes.
Today, in our own agile Office Divvy team of 16, only two to four work on location on a daily basis. Job roles related to the back office, our digital team and our Call-Desk team are all now primarily remote. We had implemented a cloud infrastructure including task management tools, employee engagement and communication tools, our phone systems and more years before the pandemic, and we’ve benefited from this infrastructure being in place in converting how our team works to remote-first and hybrid under the pandemic. Our clients certainly have been beneficiaries of this in the colocation and call desk services we provide for them.
How to Prepare
Preparing your business for a hybrid work operating model doesn’t necessarily entail overly complicated planning. Some of the steps businesses can take to ensure the infrastructure and operations of their hybrid work model will be successful:
Client Experience. With all the gained efficiencies and productivity, are we also thinking about the client experience? If your clients and customers are contacting you primarily via phone calls, are your phone technology, systems and workflows optimized to allow for hybrid work? Because keeping business cohesion and the client experience is paramount.
Custom Automations: The new SENDnSIGN App was created during the pandemic for clients of Office Divvy that operate in the “Home Services” field, who send and request signed estimates from their customers. A complete dashboard, project workflow lifecycle, all customer estimates in one place and actionable, no-fuss signing for customers was developed to resolve pain points in the workflow and elevate the customer experience.
Hybrid by the Numbers
A Remote-First Culture
Many companies big and small are choosing a remote-first culture by default and opting to build that into the fundamental operating structure of their company. That’s not to say that remote-first means “remote-only.” Remote-first means companies assume employees are working outside of company office space the vast majority of the time and only visiting the office for in-person team building or other activities requiring face-to-face interaction.
A survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that of the more than 14,000 workers surveyed, one in four employees said they were planning to change companies in 2021. The need for a more flexible work schedule was the top reason, followed by increased benefits and support for their well-being.
Some of the benefits of remote-first culture:
Remote-First or Hybrid Work?
Remote-first and hybrid work aren’t ideal for every company and job. You can’t build a building or deliver packages from a computer (yet). Still, for many companies, it’s a great solution for remaining competitive to top talent in their industry, along with protecting employee health and improving job satisfaction, productivity and the overall company bottom line.
Credits: Big thanks to Thomas Hilton and Drea Evans for collaborating with me in this article — yes, done so from two different locations.