At the peak of the pandemic, estimates were that over 40% over people were working from home. As we transition out of the pandemic many are now embracing remote work in a new way, even when given the option to return to the workplace.
But will it stay this way? Is remote work a good thing, for employers and employees?
Everyone is talking about the Hybrid Work Model
We continue to see a steady stream of news articles on working from home, positing whether or not this is good for business, and of course, whether this is something that will continue to be prevalent in a post-pandemic world. These articles have varied in their stance; some state employers should be ordering employees back to the workplace, with others describing the notable benefits that have come from the pandemic-induced work-from-home situation. Others have discussed the inequalities; for example, the idea that working from home would set women back in the workplace, as they are more likely to choose this situation, and that they will therefore be negatively impacted with lost opportunities compared to their in-office counterparts. On the flip side, there are an equal number of articles describing the positive benefits for women, especially mothers of young children.
Different businesses require a different approach
Of course, whether a hybrid work model is beneficial is industry specific. Not everyone who was forced to work remotely-or still finds themselves working remotely- feels this is the optimal model (teachers, for example!). And certain home situations or lack of resources may mean remote work is not ideal.
But where it’s a possibility, it’s worth exploring the pros and cons as you work to develop your own long-term plan when it comes to your group of employees.
Hybrid work: employee productivity plus recruitment and retention factors
Our two-part blog will discuss the Hybrid Work model, focusing on Employee Productivity and Recruitment & Retention factors. We will answer some key questions you may have as an employer or manager, including:
- What is a hybrid work model?
- Are my employees as productive at home?
- Why do employees want to work remotely?
- Should I let my employees work from home?
- What is reasonable for remote vs. workplace balance?
- Does supporting remote work help attract and retain good employees?
- What are the financial implications of remote work?
- How do I implement a work-from-home policy?
- How do I optimize a hybrid work model?
As an employer, you may find yourself pondering the tough decision on whether to allow employees to continue to work from home, and what this might look like. In the tough hiring environment we are now in, you may even feel like the choice is not yours.
Just like your benefits plan, your approach to WFH needs to be customized to your business
Our goal is to help you make the best decision for your company. As always, we know that every business is unique and what works well for one, is not ideal for another. Hopefully, with the various pros and cons in mind, you can implement the best decision for your company.
The Hybrid Work Model is here to stay
Prior to the pandemic, about 5% of Canadians did the majority of their work from home. At the peak of lockdown, estimates are that up to 42% of workers were remote. As restrictions have eased and we’ve become vaccinated, remote workers have reduced to around 25-30%.
The expectation is that by 2025, there will be an 87% increase from the pre-pandemic levels. Studies are telling us that working from home is here to stay.
A hybrid work model (a flexible work model that combines working from the workplace and working remotely) has numerous benefits. It’s these benefits that are leading progressive employers to embrace this model of work, rather than sticking to a more traditional site-based work environment.
Of course, managers and business owners wonder if this is beneficial to the bottom line of the company.
Are my employees actually working from home? Are they being productive?
Depending on the business, productivity is measured in different ways. And of course, whether at home or the office, it’s affected by various factors. We say we want to increase productivity, but what does that even mean?
These questions have crossed the minds of most business owners and managers. The short answer is that the research tells us not only are employees working, for the majority, they are more productive. Here is what some studies are telling us:
- 74% of employers believe working from home increased their employee productivity 20%
- 71-79% of workers say they focus better at home
- 83% of employees say they do not need an office to be productive
- 90%-95% of employees say they were at least as productive at home
- The most highly engaged workers spend 60-80% of their time working from home.
Depending on the study, the numbers vary. But what appears consistent is that there is not a drop in productivity overall, and for certain types of workers, productivity is higher when given the opportunity to work from home.
A hybrid work model allows for ‘knowledge workers’ to more effectively prioritize
Everyone is different in terms of when and how we’re most productive; some of us are night owls, and some of us do our best work early in the day. Choosing when and how we get our work done has proven to increase productivity. According to the Harvard Business Review study:
For knowledge workers, or those where “effectiveness is determined by the use of brainpower and their capacity to make sound judgments” a hybrid work model is especially empowering and conducive to increased productivity.
Working from home can actually mean fewer distractions
We joke that ‘this could have been an email’ when it comes to meetings, but it’s often no joke! The workplace, while offering undeniable social and collaborative benefits, also comes with distractions and time drains. Unnecessary or overly lengthy meetings and socializing take time away from work, while commuting consumes not only time but energy that could be focused on work.
But aren’t we losing the collective power of the group, when it comes to brainstorming and creative collaboration?
This is a valid concern for employers, and one of the potential negative aspects of remote working. In addition to managing people remotely and a loss of the social ties that in-person work brings, a decrease in collaboration is the biggest concern for most employers. So what’s the optimal solution? Like everything in life, balance is key. What appears to be the best model is a hybrid arrangement, whereby employees have a balance of on-site and remote work, and the ability to make the choice that works best for them as individuals, within reasonable boundaries.
While this is not the right choice for every employer, for many, particularly those with ‘knowledge workers’- supporting a hybrid work model is the smart choice.
A hybrid work model benefits both employers and employees. And, as you’ll see in Part 2 of this blog series, the majority of employees want the option to work remotely. In Part 2 we will delve into the hybrid work model from the employee perspective; why they value this arrangement so highly and the specific benefits. We will take a closer look from an HR perspective as to why it helps to recruit and keep great employees, and why maintaining or implementing a permanent hybrid work model may be the smartest choice for your organization. And lastly, we will outline several tips for employers in developing a customized hybrid work model.
As always, please feel free to reach out to us to discuss your employee benefits program. We love to hear from you!
Trichur, Rita. (September 1 2021). Hybrid work risks becoming the next ‘career killer’ for women. Globe and Mail. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-hybrid-work-risks-becoming-the-next-career-killer-for-women/
Birkinshaw, Julian, Cohen, Jordan, Stach, Pawel. (August 31 2020). Research: Knowledge Workers Are More Productive from Home. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/08/research-knowledge-workers-are-more-productive-from-home
Staff. (April 7, 2021). 90% of Canadian remote workers say working from home hasn’t hurt productivity: survey. Benefits Canada. https://www.benefitscanada.com/news/bencan/90-of-canadian-remote-workers-say-working-from-at-home-hasnt-hurt-productivity-survey/
Travers, Sarah. (June 2021). How Hybrid Work Can Help Working Moms- And Your Company . Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/06/18/how-hybrid-work-can-help-working-moms—and-your-company/?sh=31babab25e71