The future of the workplace is hybrid. As employees begin returning to work, many offices are limiting capacity or having employees come into the office on specific days or shifts. This results in a hybrid team structure, where some employees work remotely while others work from the office.
Remote employees and video conferencing technology play a major role in the modern work environment. As companies grow and develop, they need to suit the needs of the current workforce. Much of the workforce happens to be comprised of millennials. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials (those currently between ages 22-37) make up 35% of the U.S. labor force, making them the largest group represented.
Millennials are digital natives and technology is an integral part of their workplace success. As the millennial population in the workplace has grown, PC sales have trended downward. Simultaneously, laptop and tablet sales are climbing as the market adapts to the modern employee.
The modern employee is tech-savvy as millennials become managers and leaders of organizations. The idea of the 9-to-5 office job has quickly become antiquated, opening the door for new work environments, new management styles, and an entirely new idea of what a workspace means. Sixty-two percent of U.S. employees work remotely at least once a month, and over half of global companies allow remote work.
Enter the hybrid company.
Hybrid companies have a new model of work where the employee has the autonomy to choose how, where, and when they work best. So, what is a hybrid company? This is an organization that allows employees to choose between working in an office or workspace, working remotely, or alternating between the two. Hybrid teams allow employees to have control over their hours, when and where they work, and where they are the most productive.
This may sound like complete anarchy. No rules? Won't employees take advantage of this system? On the contrary, the top reason that employees choose to work remotely is productivity and focus. In fact, 60% of employees with flexible work options are more productive and engaged in their work than those with structured, homogeneous (entirely office-based or entirely remote) teams.
A hybrid team is a flexible work structure where some employees work remotely and other team members work from a central location or office. Hybrid team structures allow employees to decide whether they prefer an office environment or working from anywhere remotely.
Hybrid teams don't conform to a single work environment because all employees work differently. All employees are managed differently, too. When given the choice, here's the breakdown of how often global employees work remotely.
Hybrid teams won't work without the right resources, technology, and support. If your company offers remote options, start by encouraging employees to take advantage of remote days, or a flexible schedule. At many companies, remote work is technically allowed, but not encouraged by leadership, so employees don't feel comfortable doing so. Actions come from the top down, so try to lead by example and work remotely at least once a week.
Next, equip your team with the technology they need. A team of hybrid employees requires a messaging app, video conferencing platform, shared files/documents, and employees need a good Wifi connection if working from home. Some suggestions for technology for hybrid teams are:
Finally, be aware of inequality. If you allow some employees to work remotely for specific reasons, you risk creating unequal remote work opportunities across your team or organization. By providing flexibility for some workers and not others, you fall into the category of old school companies that required all employees to fit into one work model. The purpose of hybrid teams is to increase employee autonomy for all workers, no matter their personal or professional situation. This also means that leadership should have the same guidelines as individual contributors.
Studies have shown that organizations that allow flexible work actually have better relationships between management and direct reports. Boundaries from previous office environments where the C-suite is in a closed-off fancy office are dissolved, allowing employees of all levels to bond, connect, and grow together.
While managing a hybrid team presents its own set of challenges, the biggest being building team culture, modern technology helps to bridge the gap and create a workplace that supports employees working remotely, from an office or shared workspace, and everything in between.