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What is hybrid remote working?

Last updated

20 September 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Lara Leganger

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Over the last few years, businesses have shifted to adopt a host of new workplace dynamics and working models. Many brands maintained their remote workforces, citing the incredible benefits of having employees at home. Other companies transitioned to more hybrid remote-working models.

On the surface, the concept of hybrid remote working seems straightforward. However, the definition depends on the company. There are also advantages, disadvantages, and considerations worth reviewing before deciding whether to adopt this workplace environment. 

Learn more about what hybrid remote working is and how it can improve your company's culture and productivity when executed correctly.

What is a hybrid remote-working model?

A hybrid remote-working environment can look different from business to business. In general, it means your company plan allows for a mixture of in-office and remote-working schedules.

This may involve allowing employees to choose which days they will work from home. It could also mean the workforce consists of some full-time on-site staff and some remote staff, on either a full- or part-time basis.

But there are also distinctive differences to note when developing a hybrid remote-working strategy.

What is telework?

Telework is not the same as remote work. While both terms usually refer to off-site work, a teleworker will occasionally work on-site or report to the office if the company requires their on-site attendance.

Another distinction between telework and remote work is location. Because teleworkers must report to the office on occasion, they usually live closer to the job site.

What is mobile working?

Mobile working, as the term suggests, is working on the go. These employees can work from anywhere and aren't tied to a specific location. This concept describes a worker who is technologically connected to the job wherever they may be working, at home or elsewhere.

What is working from home (WFH)?

“Working from home” describes employees who conduct their work from a centralized home office or place of residence.

Remote work vs. hybrid vs. in-office

Before making any official decisions or writing policies for your company, understand the distinction between remote work, hybrid remote work, and in-office work.

  • Remote teams don't work from an office at all and can manage their workload from any physical location.

  • Hybrid remote working teams report to a physical work location for some or part of their working schedules while conducting the other days of their working week off-site.

  • In-office teams are required to report to their employer's place of business for work each day, whether in an office, warehouse, manufacturing location, or physical job site.

The key characteristics of hybrid remote work

The primary characteristics of hybrid remote work include flexibility and support. Because a hybrid model incorporates a mix of on-site workdays with remote workdays, there is a balance that benefits the employer and the employee.

Employees enjoy improved autonomy in their work. Employers enjoy a more productive work environment that doesn't compromise the benefits of in-person work reporting.

Other key characteristics of the hybrid remote-work environment include:

  • Higher engagement and affinity, connecting teams to the brand

  • Flexibility for optimum productivity, allowing employees to control their time and efficiencies

  • Security and scalability, since companies embracing both off-site and on-site work are manageable ecosystems with fewer risks and more growth potential

What are the benefits of hybrid remote working?

Many of today's companies, large and small, are adopting the hybrid remote-working model. There are countless advantages to doing so:

  • Easier planning and scheduling: Leaders can work with their teams to outline schedules everyone can support. Get creative about which departments or staff work from home on certain days. Ensure you offset on-site work in a way that allows for planned meetings or in-office support availability.

  • A smarter way to manage company resources: Be more precise about scheduling teams, allocating responsibilities, and spending with a hybrid work plan.

  • Benefits of flexible teams: Companies can dictate hybrid work schedules or leave them open for employees to interpret as they deem most productive. This is especially appealing for project work or for those who might have physical challenges in getting to work.

Understanding the challenges of hybrid remote working

The hybrid remote workforce isn't always a perfect scenario. Before your company makes a shift to this model, consider some of the more common challenges. Doing so will help you experience a more streamlined hybrid remote-working transition.

Securing the workforce

Some employees aren't cut out to be self-managing or responsible enough to work off-site. And finding the right staff means changing up how you hire and onboard teams.

Prepare to reinforce your hiring practices, looking for great-fit employees who can be productive in a hybrid work environment.

Remotely managing user access permissions

It can be more challenging to maintain the security of your IT systems and technology when juggling various off-site user permissions and logins. Try reinforcing your online platforms with the digital resources necessary to seamlessly manage user access and permissions.

You might need to invest in a more robust tech solution for managing data privacy, info-systems management, and platform security.

Micromanagement

Managing off-site teams can be challenging since traditional management methods don't work as well in these environments. Consider redefining management and oversight practices for your leaders so they know how to measure success and failure without micromanaging the process details. Accountability still matters, just in a different way with remote-working staff.

Miscommunication

Prepare for communication glitches and occasional misinterpretations. Some business conversations and project details are better understood with in-person communications.

Inequality perceptions among staff

Prepare to combat inequality perceptions that may arise between those employees who have to report to the workplace and those who enjoy hybrid benefits. Implement better team-building initiatives and company-culture efforts to keep everyone feeling equally valuable and connected.

What to consider before going hybrid remote

A hybrid remote-working model won’t be a good fit for every company. For example, if you're in the business of servicing air-conditioning units, you can't have technicians working from home. 

Other considerations to look into include:

  • Talking to your employees about their thoughts on hybrid remote work

  • Team-building activities to keep remote-working teams connected

  • Guidelines for your management team for supervising and supporting staff on those remote-working days – define success in productivity and discourage micromanagement

  • Additional costs that might be needed to invest in better technology and virtual communication tools

  • Boosting digital support channels for remote-working employees to access troubleshooting and problem-solving tools from home

Tips for managing a hybrid remote team

When managing and supporting a hybrid remote team, keep these insights and suggestions handy for the best results.

  • Build trust among your staff and maintain working relationships with them.

  • Promote collaboration and teamwork in a hybrid community.

  • Encourage everyone to be open and transparent about questions, concerns, and new ideas.

  • Focus on the results and provide tools for employees to achieve those results.

  • Define expectations for every level of your workforce, including what constitutes success.

  • Establish different meeting types that cater to remote and on-site workers.

  • Create project workflows that accommodate both types of working environments so teams know how to engage.

  • Move slowly with new schedules and changes to give your teams time to adjust.

  • Revamp policies, including operating procedures, human resources, and safety through a lens of hybrid remote working.

  • Have fun with the transition to hybrid remote working, and encourage constant feedback from your employees to ensure their satisfaction.

  • Be fair and equitable about benefits and perks for on-site and off-site staff.

FAQs

Is hybrid working the same as remote working?

No, hybrid working refers to work that is done both on-site and remotely, either as an individual's schedule or as a workforce of on-site and off-site workers.

Is a hybrid model better than a remote model?

No single business model is better than another for every business model. But the hybrid remote-working model, with its many benefits referred to in this article, might be the best solution for your company.

What is the difference between remote first and hybrid?

Remote-first working refers to the model where few, if any, employees report to work on-site. Hybrid workers, on the other hand, work off-site some of the time.

Do people prefer hybrid or remote work?

Talk with your teams about their preferences before making the switch to a hybrid or remote-working environment. Most teams prefer a healthy mix of remote-working flexibility and in-office colleague engagement.

Today's businesses are streamlining their operations and reconfiguring their business models to include new workplace dynamics. Explore the many benefits and considerations of the hybrid remote-working solution.

You may find, like many other brands, it's the "Goldilocks" solution that complements the needs and preferences of your employees while contributing to your company's productivity and bottom line.

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