Are hybrid working models the future? After 1.5 years of a pandemic, we know: Permanent home office work has many advantages, but it also has disadvantages. With the time savings that the home office brings, new opportunities arise in personal life: The start of the workday is more relaxed, and one’s place of residence is becoming more flexible in terms of work. But just as new opportunities open up, the permanent home office can also have negative effects. During the pandemic, we saw that people found it increasingly difficult to separate their work and personal lives and to “call it a day” after closing their PC. The obvious disadvantage: personal contact falls by the wayside. Of course, teams can also discuss all their concerns in Zoom conferences, but spontaneous shared laughter or a deeper insight into the life of the soul are simply more likely to take place during a chat in the kitchen.
Hybrid working means taking employees’ needs into account instead of bringing them back with a bang.
Recently, Apple made headlines by saying that, effective immediately, all employees should return to the office for three days a week – not a suggestion, but a directive. This has caused a lot of resentment and resistance among Apple employees. Returning to the office in the middle of summer, during the vacation and vacation season, was hard to imagine for many. Another point of resistance was certainly the fact that they were not asked: No surveys or votes were held on the preferred work model.
Many decisions were simply taken away from us during the pandemic, and now most employees would like to be able to decide for themselves where they work - preferably also spontaneously.
The hybrid work model seems to be the solution of the future.
So it is becoming increasingly apparent that a hybrid work model – the mix of mobile and in-person work – should be the solution of the future. Not only does it fit the current situation, where we don’t know if the pandemic is really over or if it could start all over again, but it also fits the mood of most people, who now prefer to make spontaneous decisions rather than planning for a long time and then having to throw everything over again.
So what considerations should companies make to enable a hybrid working model?
1. Ask: Is it really the model most employees prefer?
As mentioned earlier, the hybrid model seems to satisfy the needs of most employees, but before establishing the model, management should create a survey to gather employee sentiment. Is the hybrid model really the right one? Do employees have the right equipment to be able to work from home in the future without suffering back injuries? What do employees need from their managers? A survey does not provide the ultimate wisdom, but it is an ideal way to get a picture of the mood.
2. Corporate culture of transparency and trust; Setting goals.
The corporate culture should also fit the hybrid model of mobile and in-person work. This means that micro-management and hierarchical structures no longer fit; this model should be characterized by flexibility, agility and mutual trust. However, it is helpful for both sides, managers and employees, if goals are jointly defined for better orientation. And it should not matter where and how the goals are ultimately achieved.
3. Make equipment available – bring your own device, company car
As mentioned in point 1, management should find out what equipment employees need to be able to work from home in the long term. This could be, for example, an ergonomic office chair to relieve the strain on the back. It should go without saying that employees should be provided with a laptop instead of a desktop PC so that they can easily take it with them. Furthermore, the question should be settled as to whether employees are now generally entitled to a company cell phone. If not, are they allowed to make business calls from their private cell phone, and how is this billed (bring your own device)? Furthermore, do employees now need a company car more urgently, and would this be more profitable instead of the next salary increase?
4. Consider appropriate software
To introduce the hybrid model efficiently in the long term, software that’s suitable for mobile work must be considered. Video conferencing should work at the push of a button to approximate face-to-face meetings. Software should also be accessible from anywhere; it should map processes and identify the current status of work. It should help employees bring structure to all their communication workflows on different channels.
OTRS is very well suited to support remote and hybrid work teams, because customers appreciate the transparent and clear processes. OTRS can also help to map which workstations or laptops are available in the office – important information for planning hybrid work. OTRS can also provide a clear overview of upcoming face-to-face meetings such as employee interviews or the planning of business trips. These are all important details that are necessary to make hybrid working successful.
5. Data security
Last but not least, the topic of data security should also receive a lot of attention, because no matter where the employee is – in the office, at home, with acquaintances or on a business trip – the flow of information should always be secure and protected. To this end, it is advisable to use VPN (Virtual Private Network) access, to always keep software up-to-date and to act in accordance with the regulations of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
Is the hybrid work model of home office and in-office also your preference? If so, why, and what are your experiences with it? We wish you a pleasant summer with lots of productive variety in the hybrid work mode!