Unknown in the “old world”, telework has imposed itself in companies in the space of a few months. More than an obviousness, it is an essential tool that meets the expectations of many employees. But then, how to think about the work of tomorrow (also called “hybrid work model”) and how to implement it in your company? Explanations in this article.
What is the hybrid work model?
All the experts say it: there will be no turning back to the “world before”. The 5-day work week is therefore a thing of the past (except for specific sectors and professions). Today, it’s time for a hybrid work model. But what is it?
👉 By “hybrid work model”, we mean a mode of organization mixing telework and face-to-face. What we call the “half-present, half-distance”. It is a way for companies to empower their employees without sacrificing their team cohesion. Better still, with alternate work arrangements, teams are free to organize their week as they see fit. Days (or half days) at home, in third places (such as coworking spaces), face-to-face… The hybrid work model is a clever mix between all these options
💡 Telecommuting, the figures to remember
- According to DARES, 25% of employees declared themselves as teleworking between March 16 and May 11, 2020.
- Before the arrival of covid, only 3% of French employees were teleworking frequently (at least 7 hours per week).
- 1% of employees teleworked intensively (3 days or more per week).
- Today, 78% of French employees want to use the hybrid model.
What are the advantages of the hybrid work model?
How can we talk about the advantages of hybrid telework without mentioning the advantages of “classic” telework?
Reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and sleep time, improved overall team and employer satisfaction… Long before the arrival of the epidemic and its confinements, studies were already pointing out the benefits of telework. This is notably the case of the report published by the firm Kronos in 2016.
Also, according to the IFOP survey conducted in February 2017 for Malakoff Médéric, 67% of managers surveyed noted an increase in their teams’ productivity and commitment.
How is alternate telecommuting different? It’s simple: this hybrid work model allows you to take advantage of the benefits of telecommuting… While avoiding most of its drawbacks!
Among the limits of extended telework, we note for example :
- Psychosocial risks occurring in some employees.
- The deleterious effects of a sedentary lifestyle on health.
- The feeling of isolation that occurs in the long run among employees.
- Loss of social ties.
- The difficulties of inter-team communication…
On the other hand, hybrid telework allows companies to offer a little freedom to their teams. By giving them, for example, the opportunity to move away from the metropolis. All without sacrificing team cohesion. As a bonus, hybrid work allows companies to reduce their real estate costs!
What are the reasons for telecommuting and productivity?
- Alternate telecommuting reduces the number of distractions that occur in the workplace (such as coffee breaks, noise, constant interruptions, “meetings”…)
- When a company encourages telecommuting, it empowers its employees, which has a direct impact on their motivation!
- Telecommuting also saves valuable time (whether it’s extra work hours, sleep or other)
- This model brings more autonomy to employees, who are free to organize their working days according to their possible constraints… And their work/life balance is better!
For all these reasons, many teleworkers believe that this new way of working increases their productivity and their ability to concentrate tenfold!
👉 As a bonus, for companies, alternate telecommuting is an excellent recruitment lever. Indeed, it allows employers to widen their recruitment perimeter throughout France (or even internationally). All this, while facilitating the onboarding and integration process of new recruits, thanks to the time spent in person! This is a godsend for strategic recruitments that are particularly difficult to fill.
Opting for a hybrid model to meet employee expectations
💡 For managers, the hybrid model is particularly beneficial. Thanks, in particular, to the flexibility it brings to employees and the productivity it promotes. It is also a great way to engage employees! On the other hand, this work mode should be used sparingly. According to the Cadremploi x Boston Consulting Group study, 63% of respondents would like to have a maximum of 2 days of telework per week.
As the authors of a large study by WeWork and Workplace Intelligence explain, “the overall goal of a hybrid model is to meet the wide range of employee needs, from the need to focus and collaborate to the need to balance work and family obligations.”
In other words, the hybrid work model is primarily about meeting the plural expectations of employees. And on this very subject, the French workforce is clear! 78% of French employees are in favor of the hybrid work model, according to the Cadremploi x Boston Consulting Group study.
So what are the expectations of French employees?
Let’s remember that the repeated confinements have raised deep questions among French citizens. Anxious to improve their living environment, some would even consider leaving their city life to go green. This trend is confirmed by a study conducted by the Cooptalis consulting firm in the spring of 2021. According to this survey, 86% of French companies have received requests from their employees to telework far away in the last few months. 74% of them would have validated these requests. Also, according to the WeWork x Workplace Intelligence study, 75% of employees surveyed would be willing to give up at least one work benefit to have the freedom to choose their work environment.
What are the concerns or obstacles?
Let’s face it: despite its benefits, telecommuting is not all fun and games. A novice teleworker who is not properly accompanied can easily fall into some of the pitfalls of remote work (such as disorganization, procrastination, withdrawal…).
Whether it is alternated or not, telework requires adequate support. This organizational model implies dedicating time and energy to the management of remote teams. It also requires training in collaborative tools that facilitate teleworking, and encouraging them to share information… In other words, the transition to mobile working cannot be improvised. It requires discipline and support.
Are all employees suited to telework?
No: that’s the problem. Opting for a hybrid work model implies that a company has to rethink its recruiting. For example, in a telecommuting context, even partial, it is essential for a company to look for certain essential soft skills in its future recruits, such as problem solving, good time management, self-discipline… Without them, a company cannot guarantee the fulfilment of its future recruits in a telecommuting context.
In addition, for existing employees, the company should consider checking that all employees are comfortable with this new work model (and consider solutions if necessary) before starting the hybrid shift.
Finally, let’s not forget that we are not all equal when it comes to telecommuting. Some people have an ideal environment for teleworking (such as a large home, with adequate office furniture, equipment, etc.). Other employees, on the other hand, may live in smaller spaces, with less comfort. In addition, depending on whether you are a young single worker or a father of three, telecommuting is not done under the same conditions.
A company that is proactive and aware of the disadvantages of teleworking will have to anticipate these possible disparities, to avoid accentuating certain inequalities between employees – and especially between socio-professional categories. To remedy this, a company can, for example, allocate a budget to its employees dedicated to the purchase of equipment for telecommuting.
💡 Also according to the We Work x Workplace Intelligence study, 76% of business leaders surveyed believe they are willing to pay their employees a stipend to work from home or in a coworking space.
Hybrid work model: some good practices to adopt
The need to train managers and employees
If managers and employees tend to generally approve of the virtues of teleworking, team managers seem to be slightly more reluctant… According to surveys published in February 2021 by Malakoff Humanis, only half of the managers questioned declared themselves in favor of teleworking at the end of 2020. The main reasons for this are: difficulties in maintaining team spirit, difficulties in implementing teleworking, a feeling of isolation…
No wonder: learning to manage remote teams takes time… and support! And employees who are new to telecommuting also need to be trained in good telecommuting practices.
Redouble internal communication
Despite some preconceived notions, telecommuting does not mean less communication. In fact, the opposite is true: to facilitate information sharing and avoid misunderstandings, it is better for a company to double its communication in a teleworking context, whether it is full or partial.
Encouraging transparency and honest feedback, having regular check-ins (whether as a team or one-to-one), centralizing information through collaborative tools are all good reflexes to adopt for optimal teleworking.
IT security: as essential as ever
It goes without saying that investing in the right tools and teaching your team the basics of IT security is essential for safe and effective teleworking. The first thing to do is to secure remote access with a VPN. Also think about consolidating your password management policy, by obliging all your employees to configure the two-step validation for their email and the company’s sensitive software.
Adopt and organize a hybrid work model, in conclusion
Combining face-to-face and telecommuting, the hybrid work model is slowly emerging as the ultimate solution for companies that want to reap the benefits of remote work without the hassle. Better still, this clever approach allows companies to meet the expectations of employees who attach particular importance to their well-being and balance. The challenge for HR and managers will be to offer a similar work experience, whether you are in the office or at home.