Continue Working Remotely or Return to the Office? Exploring the Hybrid Workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic propelled many offices to launch remote workforces. However, with a ‘return to normal,’ many businesses and workers wonder if they could continue working remotely or return to the office? An interesting phenomenon is emerging – the hybrid workforce. 

Previously, many businesses had refrained from allowing workers to work from home because they feared a nosedive in productivity if there was no overseer. However, with so much of the global workforce working from home, fear has been proven a misnomer. Remote working increased productivity and gave workers a better work/home life balance.  Now professional managers and executives are faced with the hard choice of continuing to allow functioning staff to work remotely, push for a return to the office, or launch a hybrid workforce. 

What is a Hybrid Workforce? 

Most companies are exploring a hybrid option for their employees, which allows some employees to work remotely and others to work at the office. Depending on the structure, teams and departments are often being split into remote working and in-house working. An example is the marking team which might work off-site, while the sales professionals continue to show up at the office. 

Classifications of Work from Home and On-Premises Teams 

Companies assign leadership positions that focus on being fully remote or in-house, depending on the various departments. One thing to note about a hybrid workforce is that it is not a laid-back, flexible style. Instead, things become very black and white. Employees with the classification of work from home (WFH) spend their workdays working remotely and occasionally visit the office. On the other hand, on-premises teams continue to report to the office and maintain a rigid in-office work schedule. 

Advantages of a Hybrid Workforce

Companies make decisions based on the long-term advantages. They will usually only explore a path if there are clear-cut benefits. Below we will examine a few of the benefits of maintaining a hybrid workforce. 

Hire the Best Talent from Around the Globe

With a hybrid workforce, a company is no longer constrained by a geographic location. Instead, open employment positions are now available to the best candidates around the world. A business can genuinely hone its team with individuals who provide exceptional skills and knowledge. 

Choosing employees from different time zones also provides round-the-clock coverage regardless of the hour, which only increases the brainpower of the workforce. 

Strength Considerations

Honestly, some employees function better at home, and their productivity increases without any office distractions. A hybrid workforce allows team members who function best at home to remain in their comfort zone. In contrast, others who excel at in-office interactions can use the opportunity to go to the office every day.  Companies that embrace a hybrid workforce strive to understand the diversity of their workers and meet their individual needs to create employee workplace satisfaction.

In some circumstances, a team member might also have disabilities. With medical disabilities, they might prefer to work from home where they can stay connected and comfortable without struggling to go to the office every day.

Lower Overhead Costs

Embracing a hybrid workforce means lower business and office expenses. Downsizing office space will save on rent, electricity, and more. 

Maintain a Healthier Team 

COVID-19 has made more people aware of the health risks that they face daily. Whenever there is a group of people, the risks for contracting the flu, colds, or COVID increase, a virus can quickly spread throughout an in-person team leaving everyone too sick to function, and your workforce grinds to a halt. A hybrid workforce is healthier with fewer concerns which means less or no sick days every year. 

Disadvantages of a Hybrid Workforce Team

As with any significant workforce change, problems do arise. There are disadvantages to a hybrid work from home model. 

Feelings of Isolation

It is not uncommon for remote workers to report that they feel isolated or disconnected from their other team members.  For some social individuals, remote working is almost a punishment because they truly thrive in a group environment with their peers. 

Challenges of Time Differences

Yes, there are advantages to a hybrid workforce operating around the clock, but the process is not without challenges. Sometimes the in-house team must wait hours or the entire day to reply if the remote worker lives in a distant time zone. 

Extra Communication Efforts

Communication can become a challenge. Hybrid team members must communicate virtually using apps like Slack, Asana, Skype, email, and more. Everyone must remain on their toes to promote successful communication between all members of the team.

Preferential Treatment 

Often on-premises employees receive faster promotions and added perks that are not always given to remote workers. This is simply because the managers can interact with them more because they are accessible and form stronger bonds – human nature. Remote workers often do not get good one-on-one with their bosses, and decision-makers are not considered quick for a promotion, favored project, or raise, which curtails their ability to climb the ladder in the company. 

Making a Hybrid Workforce Function

Yes, you will face some challenges to making a hybrid workforce function, and there is always a learning phase to any new rollouts. Creating firm policies for all team members and creating a positive work environment regardless of whether a worker is remote, or in-person will go a long way towards the business’s success with a hybrid workforce. 

Leading companies that have launched hybrid workforces include Dropbox, Amazon, American Express, Coinbase, Lincoln Financial Group, Lambda School, Nationwide Insurance, Spotify, Square, Zipwhip, and more. 

The COVID-19 pandemic created the framework for new and exciting business solutions why launching the acceptance of remote workforces. Now companies are starting to take a hard look at the hybrid workforce and positively benefit the button line of companies and promote greater well-being for the workers. A hybrid workforce is not remote, and it is not in-office but somewhere in between, which gives businesses an innovative competitive edge to attract, train, develop and retain the best global talent on their teams.