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Employees Actively Seek Out Remote and Hybrid Work

By in Business Success,

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to allow their employees to work remotely. For many business owners, there was significant apprehension over this shift due to concerns about logistical issues, reduced productivity, and limited ability for managers to observe and guide their teams.

More than three years later, these concerns have largely been debunked. Data has found many employees have in fact become more productive, managers have identified ways to effectively supervise their teams, and technology such as Zoom and cloud-based file sharing platforms have rendered most logistical issues moot.

While it’s become clear that many businesses can not only function, but actually thrive in remote environments, we’ve also made another discovery over the last few years – most employees prefer working in these remote and hybrid environments. As a result, we’re seeing a large number of workers prioritizing remote and hybrid work opportunities during a job search.

employees seek out remote and hybrid opportunitiesRegardless of your feelings about the effectiveness of remote and hybrid work models, it’s time to acknowledge that they’re no longer temporary responses to a crippling global pandemic. Remote and hybrid work models are here to stay, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that they represent the future of how businesses will operate. Companies that embrace these working models will be better positioned to attract and retain the top talent in their industry, and this will set them up for long term success.

If your business can accommodate remote and/or hybrid work models, it’s in your best interest to at least consider adopting one of these models. But as with any other critical decision you make, it’s always important to be armed with the knowledge necessary to make the right choice for your short- and long-term success. To help you accomplish this, we’re going to:

Data Shows Many American Workers Prefer Remote and Hybrid Work

While it’s easy to make the claim that workers prefer these flexible models, it’s important to back up these assertions with hard data. Fortunately, there have been enough studies to support the fact that our country is moving towards a more flexible work environment that features remote and hybrid options.

McKinsey’s American Opportunity Survey evaluated responses from over 25,000 American workers. This survey included workers in all types of industries, in every part of the country and every sector of the economy. With data from traditional “blue collar” jobs that would be expected to require on-site employees as well as “white collar” professions that would be more ideally suited to remote and hybrid working models, the data becomes even more significant:

The results of the McKinsey study reflect sweeping changes currently impacting the US workforce. The study estimates that roughly 92 million workers are offered remote or hybrid work options, 80 million employees actually have one of these working models as part of their job, and a significant number of workers have indicated a search for more flexible work options as a major motivator to change jobs.

A study from Owl Labs found that remote and hybrid workers:

woman with a hybrid work environment working at homeA study by Ergotron also yielded data that indicates many employees view remote and hybrid work environments as beneficial:

Data from Prodoscore found a 5% increase in productivity during the pandemic work from home period. Furthermore, their data revealed that an employee’s personal traits were a greater indicator of their productivity than their work environment – employees that were highly productive in the office were still productive at home, while individuals who slacked off in the office were more likely to do so at home as well.

According to data by Gusto:

Remote vs. Hybrid Work: What’s the Difference?

There are two different types of flexible work models:

In remote work models, employees work at home full time. Generally, there is no central office for employees to come to, although many businesses maintain a smaller office setting where a select number of employees, such as executive team members, have the opportunity to work onsite. Often, these offices are in shared working spaces where each company has just a few offices and access to a conference room to meet with clients. In many fully remote work environments, employees have the ability to live anywhere, including out of state. This provides the benefit of a larger pool of applicants for each job, allowing businesses to hire the best talent regardless of where they live.

In hybrid work models, employees split their time between working in an office and working at home. The number of days in-office vs. remote varies based on the policies of that specific business. Depending on the size of the company and where the bulk of the employees are geographically located, there may be one or more onsite office locations. It’s common for very large national companies that adopt a hybrid model to have several hub offices around the country where their employees must work onsite several days a week. This model limits the ability for employees to live in locations that are too far to commute to the office, eliminating the benefits created by access to a larger talent pool associated with fully remote work.

Benefits of Remote and Hybrid Work Environments

remote worker on a Zoom meetingBoth employers and employees experience a variety of benefits associated with remote and hybrid work environments.

Many employees find remote and hybrid situations appealing due to:

These working models also present a variety of benefits for employers, including:

Challenges Associated with Remote and Hybrid Work Environments

While the benefits of remote and hybrid work models make these options worth pursuing for most companies that can accommodate offsite employees, it’s still important to be aware of some of the challenges that may arise in these settings.

Maintaining Employee Engagement and Collaboration

remote worker collaborating with coworkersWhen working remotely, it can sometimes be challenging to maintain the same levels of engagement and foster opportunities for collaboration compared with what can be accomplished in an in-office environment. Lack of face-to-face interaction can sometimes result in miscommunication, reduced teamwork and delays in decision making.

Employers can avoid this challenge by prioritizing ways to keep remote workers connected to their team members and including them in important decisions. This requires implementing tools and strategies that improve communication between remote workers. In hybrid formats, in-office days can be structured in a way that promotes collaboration, ensuring that your team has an opportunity to work together.

Blurred Work Boundaries

In a remote or hybrid work environment that allows for flexible working hours, many employees will keep more of a nontraditional schedule where they work outside of typical 9-5 hours. This can sometimes make it more challenging for team members who choose to work less traditional hours to create the boundaries necessary to separate their work and personal lives. Without these boundaries, employees may end up responding to emails late at night and working longer hours than would occur in an office.

To help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance, employers should establish policies that encourage their team to set and stick to established work schedules, even if these schedules aren’t specifically 9-5 working hours. Team members should be discouraged from checking and responding to emails outside of their typical work hours, making it easier for them to disconnect from the stresses of work and recharge before the next day.

Reduced Social Interaction

Many employees who express a preference for working in an office often cite social isolation as the primary reason. Certain individuals thrive on social interactions, and the lack of spontaneous exchanges or informal conversations with coworkers can make them feel disconnected or isolated. While this isn’t an issue for all remote and hybrid workers, it’s still a challenge that exists for some employees and must be addressed by employers to reduce the risk of burnout among individuals who are prone to experiencing social isolation when working at home.

There are many ways to get creative and foster social interaction in remote settings so that employees feel connected to one another. In hybrid settings, giving employees the opportunity to choose how often they come to the office can help those who prefer greater levels of in-person interaction to get what they need and avoid feeling socially isolated.

Greater Difficulty Coordinating Work Schedules

Allowing flexible schedules is a great benefit for your employees, but it also may mean that you won’t have all team members working the same hours each day. This is especially true in fully remote work environments where employees live in different time zones. This can create challenges scheduling meetings and other opportunities for collaboration.

This challenge can easily be overcome by establishing certain times of the day where all employees are expected to be available. Then, meetings and other collaborative projects can be scheduled during these common working hours. Ideally, these common working hours should occur during the middle of the day to avoid a situation where employees in certain time zones must get up extremely early or work extremely late to attend a meeting.

Best Practices to Set Remote and Hybrid Employees Up for Success

Remote and hybrid work models are here to stay, and it’s likely that they will become increasingly prominent over the next few years. For businesses that can accommodate this type of working environment, the benefits are significant, and it’s worthwhile to strongly consider adopting one of these models.

While the challenges discussed above must be taken into account, they’re hardly insurmountable. As long as you put a great deal of thought into how you set up your remote or hybrid work model, you can easily create an environment where your employees can thrive and your business is successful. The following best practices will help you set your team up for success.

Choosing Between Hybrid and Remote Models

remote vs. hybrid work modelsThe first decision you’ll need to make involves determining whether to adopt a remote or hybrid model. The lessons learned during the pandemic have dispelled many of the myths associated with the importance of employees working in an office. Therefore, if you’re going to require employees to come to the office one or more days a week, there should be a purpose for this decision.

If there is truly a benefit to having all of your employees in the same place one or more days a week, then by all means you should choose a hybrid model. Just keep in mind that you’ll lose some of the most important benefits associated with remote work when you choose a hybrid model:

Engage Your Employees to Find Out What They Want and Need in a Work Environment

When deciding what type of work model to implement, it’s always best to engage your team in the process. Speak to your employees personally to find out what they think. Send out surveys to gather additional information and feedback. This will help you establish a work model that more effectively addresses the needs of your entire team.

Some items to seek feedback on include:

Not only will engaging your team in the process help you understand what’s truly important to them and make it easier to set your employees up for success, but it will also show them that you value their opinions. When employees feel like their leadership team listens to them and values their ideas, they typically remain more engaged and derive greater satisfaction from their job. This can help you improve employee retention over time.

Provide Opportunities for Communication and Collaboration

The potential for social isolation is real when employees work in remote or hybrid environments. As a result, it’s critical to establish a process that facilitates employee communication and collaboration. Utilizing tools such as Slack or Google Chat can make it easy for team members to check in with each other and ask quick questions. Using video meeting tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams can make collaboration much easier as well.

fostering remote employee engagement with Zoom happy hoursWhile facilitating work-related communication is critical, it’s also important to provide remote employees with ways to socialize. “Water cooler chats” that occur in offices may detract from productivity, but they are important ways for employees to get to know one another and build camaraderie. A tight-knit team will help boost morale and provide a more positive work environment.

There are several things you can do to ensure your employees maintain social communications:

Find the Right Balance of Flexibility and Consistency

The flexibility provided by remote and hybrid work environments can result in less structure than occurs in traditional in-office work environments. While this flexibility is typically an overall benefit, it must be balanced by providing your team with the consistency necessary for them to thrive. Therefore, finding the right balance between the two is critical to achieving a successful work model.

Establishing this balance may involve:

Create Opportunities for Communication Between Leadership and Team Members

When adopting a remote or hybrid work environment, it’s critical that you provide your employees with opportunities to communicate with your leadership team. Employees should have regular check-ins with their managers to ensure everyone is aligned on goals and that employees receive the assistance they need when challenges arise.

In addition, you may want to consider scheduling regular 1:1 meetings between each employee and a member of your executive team. These can be brief 15-minute check-ins where your employees have the opportunity to remain connected with your leadership team, even when they don’t interact face-to-face. This will also make it easier for your leadership team to understand the needs of your employees.

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About Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin is the content strategist at Webolutions. He develops tactical content strategy recommendations and creates all content for clients to achieve their goals and elevate their success. With over 13 years of experience in content marketing, Andrew has the experience to write engaging content that conveys a client's brand story, builds trust and establishes thought leadership. Learn more about Andrew Martin.

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