Before the pandemic, remote work was a hard-to-reach dream for most people. The workplace was still a traditional setting, and over 60 percent worked in offices.
On the other hand, only a small number of employees, typically from the IT industry, could enjoy the flexibility and comfort of working from home. But that’s not the case anymore.
According to Gallup, only 19 percent of U.S. workers were entirely on-site in February 2022. However, 39 percent worked remotely and 42 percent in a hybrid setting.
Even though many people love telework and the freedom it provides, the majority will shift between the office and work from home in the future. After all, 59 percent prefer hybrid workplaces.
But not everyone will have the luxury of choosing their work environment. Some jobs require a specific location, conditions, and equipment, such as medical and manufacturing.
Thus, employers aren’t as thrilled about hybrid work as employees. Fifty percent want workers back in the office five days a week.
Contrasting expectations between companies and their staff could make hybrid work less effective and reduce productivity. Moreover, disagreements could also cause employee turnover and low performance.
What makes these two parties want different things, and how can companies nurture retention in that climate? Let’s start from the beginning.
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What is Hybrid Work?
The hybrid work model supports flexibility and aims to bridge the gap between in-person work and remote work by enabling employees to work partly from home or another workspace and partly in a company’s office. As a result, workers have autonomy and can decide where and when they want to work, depending on what makes them more productive and motivated.
They can work from any location with an internet connection, even if that means another country or continent. This model ensures work is no longer tied to corporate buildings and cubicles.
Instead, employees can switch between various locations, depending on their assignments and preferences. However, hybrid work arrangements may vary as every company can have a different approach.
Here are the most common models:
Flexible Hybrid Work
In this model, employees determine their working hours and location depending on their daily priorities and tasks. For instance, if they must complete a demanding project and need silence and time to focus, they can choose to work from home.
On the other hand, if employees want more interaction with their coworkers or need to participate in a team assignment, they go to the office. This model provides the ultimate flexibility and freedom, enabling a larger talent pool and diverse perspectives.
But it can also be challenging for employers because they never know how many workers will be in the office in a given week, making it hard to plan.
Fixed Hybrid Work
Contrary to the flexible model where employees decide when they go to the office, a fixed approach means that companies determine days and hours when workers can work from home. For example, employers may decide that sales teams work on-site from Monday to Wednesday while marketers telework.
Although this model enhances face-to-face collaboration and makes it easier for managers to make plans and projections, employees have less freedom and ability to choose.
The office is the principal workplace, but employees can choose a few days to work remotely. Typically, they will work three days a week on-site and two from home.
Although this approach enables more freedom for employees, it’s more challenging to determine who will be in the office and when.
Employees work mostly remotely but occasionally join the shared workspaces or a company’s office. Organizations that opt for this model don’t have headquarters.
Instead, they gather with local employees and those nearby in rented offices or other coworking spaces. Although this approach works well for people who prefer independent work, it can feel lonely and result in a lack of cohesive company culture.
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The Difference Between Remote Work and Hybrid Work
Although hybrid work includes working in a remote setting, the difference is that employees will still commute and work in person some days of the week. On the other hand, remote work (synonymous with telework) means that people only work outside the office.
They typically don’t have the opportunity to visit a company’s headquarters and work from home or another offsite location. However, hybrid work represents the blend between office-based and remote work, giving employees flexibility and ensuring community connection.
Why Do Companies Want Employees Back in Offices?
Even though employees prefer the flexibility remote work and hybrid work provide, there’s a sharp disconnect between what they and their employers expect.
Traditional in-person work seems to be favored among company leaders, and most can’t wait to welcome workers back to offices. For instance, three-quarters of all executives report they want to work face-to-face three to five days a week, compared with roughly one-third of employees.
According to a recent CNBC article, business leaders have a different perspective because their work environment is typically more private and includes an office with a door. Moreover, they rarely have the same childcare issues as many hires.
Employees often see hybrid work as fairer because it reduces the odds of favoritism due to the lack of face-to-face interactions. Technology has also shown that offices aren’t a prerequisite for a successful collaboration and company culture.
However, executives might believe that it’s necessary to share the same workspace to strive toward the same goals and reinforce institutional knowledge. They also doubt that whiteboarding has the same efficiency in a remote setting.
Although in-person brainstorming sessions can generate stellar ideas, they also lead to group thinking. But people can also produce innovative solutions and creative ideas independently, without peer pressure and self-censorship.
Business leaders often highlight that hybrid work leads to a lack of water-cooler moments and chance meetings in elevators that can spark new connections and projects. But this is also an efficient way to get a better sense of what’s going on throughout their companies and keep tabs on a large number of workers.
Nevertheless, limiting or eliminating hybrid work could result in workers’ resentment and resignations.
How Does Hybrid Work Impact Employee Turnover?
Over 54 percent of employees globally say they would consider quitting their jobs if employers don’t offer flexibility regarding when and where they work. After all, those with flexible schedules feel 3.2 times better about their work-life balance than people with rigid working hours.
Hybrid work also reduces work-related stress and productivity. Employees who can choose their work environment experience less anxiety due to micromanagement, enabling them to be more relaxed and focus on their jobs.
That could explain why companies with optional remote work have a 25 percent lower turnover. The pandemic has shown workers that they can be just as efficient remotely as in an office without worrying about commuting and disrupting the work-life balance.
For example, one in four people quit their jobs to work from home. But although hybrid work can increase employee retention, it’s not going to be as efficient if companies feel forced to introduce it and fail to do it well.
Company culture could be incoherent, causing people to struggle with a sense of belonging and group connection. Thus, if employers don’t have the necessary technology to roll out hybrid work and maintain regular communication, employees likely won’t see the point of working remotely.
Top 4 Strategies to Increase Employee Retention in Hybrid Work Environments
Hybrid work itself isn’t enough to boost employee retention. Instead, it should be intentional, well-thought-out, and efficient.
As a result, hybrid work can boost workers’ productivity, motivation, and performance. Here’s how you can establish this model and increase employee retention.
1. Decide Your Hybrid Work Model
Consider what works best for your company and employees. Perhaps you’re comfortable implementing a flexible model and allowing your hires to choose when they want to work remotely.
That gives them freedom and autonomy, resulting in more job satisfaction and loyalty. However, not every company can take this route, and the office-first approach could be more compatible with your daily responsibilities.
Take some time to delve into the benefits and disadvantages of every model and be confident in your decision. Also, clarify what new employees can expect and ensure there are no doubts concerning the hybrid work arrangement in your company.
2. Implement Top-Notch Technology
Hybrid work is partly remote and requires reliable technology that accommodates ongoing collaboration and data sharing. Check whether your employees have the necessary equipment to work from home and offer support to those in need.
Research the tools that are the most compatible with your company’s needs and ensure employees won’t encounter troubles or glitches in online work. However, technology can also help you track and measure engagement and react before issues turn into the cause of turnover.
Many Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have advanced reports and analytics that allow you to dive into your team’s performance and keep a tab on employees’ sentiments. These insights are necessary for tweaking your strategies timely and addressing and cultivating workplace satisfaction.
3. Maintain Regular Communication and Group Connection
Consistent communication across teams and departments is essential for smooth data sharing, collaboration, and ensuring everyone is on the same page. If employees feel out of the loop, they might feel neglected and isolated.
That can affect job satisfaction and result in a turnover. Use reliable technology to nurture group connections and keep everyone updated. For example, ATS platforms include team chat tools and email integration that ensure ongoing communication and accessibility for recruitment teams.
4. Provide an Engaging Onboarding and Employee Experience
Efficient and well-rounded onboarding plays a significant role in employee retention because it sets a good first impression and ensures successful integration into the workplace. That helps build a sense of belonging and connection with the company culture.
Nurture a positive employee experience and implement policies and initiatives that promote work-life balance, well-being, and flexibility. Use technology to automate manual tasks and help employees perform their jobs faster.
Flexible schedules and remote work are non-negotiable for employee satisfaction and contribute to higher workplace happiness. Employees who have the option to work from home and align their working hours with their personal lives are more engaged and likely to stay with a company for a long time.
The hybrid work model closes the gap between workers’ and executives’ expectations, enabling remote work and in-person work. However, it’s necessary to be meticulous and roll it out intentionally and efficiently.
It’s also beneficial to use top-notch technology to track team progress and employees’ engagement. For instance, Manatal’s ATS includes features that give insights into key data and help cultivate regular communication with the team, stakeholders, and customers.
Start your 14-day Free Trial to explore our innovative features and find out how Manatal can improve your hybrid work.