Why the Hybrid Work Model Is Here to Stay

Employees working together on video call
Why the Hybrid Work Model Is Here to Stay

The future of the traditional workplace is changing rapidly, and employees are driving the change. Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid work models are quickly becoming commonplace, and employees are beginning to expect that level of flexibility. Work-life balance tops the list of reasons why many people would choose to look for another job if they weren’t allowed to continue to work remotely.

In this article, we’ll review some of the most recent statistics regarding fully-remote and hybrid work, explain the timing and reasons for the shift, and evaluate the benefits and challenges it brings.

The future of the workplace

It’s no secret that more and more employees have shifted to working from home, either fully or part of the time, in the past couple years.

According to a recent Gartner survey, 25% of the global knowledge workforce will choose to work from home as their primary workplace in 2022, and 45% will be working from home two to three days per week. Executives are looking to implement radical flexibility for an evolving workforce coming out of a pandemic. Over 75% of employees will resist working from a company location as their primary workplace.

Projecting into 2024, around 30% of all employees now working remotely will transition to permanently working at home. HR leaders are helping drive this progression and have indicated that they are more confident than ever of their employees’ competency to work from home. They increasingly believe employees are as productive from home as they are in the office (more on this later).

Employees are expecting the flexibility of hybrid work

One of the most important issues for employees is the time taken to commute to the office. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many people have realized how much time can be saved by eliminating the daily commute. Instead of sitting in traffic, people are able to spend that time with their families, adopt an exercise routine, or adjust their work hours to better fit their schedule. Now, given the technological advances over the last few years, today’s workforce questions whether a commute to an office is even relevant or acceptable.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030. Employee benefits including work-from-home options, flexible work policies, and fully-remote positions are flooding job postings and are viewed as competitive advantages for attracting talent. At one point, perks like these were the exception. Now, they are becoming standard offerings in order to appeal to millennials, who value flexibility, even over monetary compensation. They are steadfast in their desire for purpose in their role.

This sentiment is not uncommon. A survey conducted by Blind, an anonymous professional network, reported that over 3,000 workers at some of the largest employers would choose to work remotely over a substantial pay increase. Somewhat surprisingly, 64% of the professionals surveyed prefer permanent work-from-home over a $30K compensation increase.

Millennials expect employers to acknowledge that they have needs and desires that extend well beyond money, including flexibility in location and work schedule. They resist micromanagement. An employer demonstrates a sense of caring when workers are allowed to decide their job duties and plan. Millennials hold the employer to a high ethical standard and seek specific professional traits. In response, the goal for businesses should be to build a culture that empowers employees, increases engagement, and drives results.

Benefits of a hybrid work model

1. Higher productivity

Pre-pandemic, there was plenty of skepticism about how effective employees could be if they weren’t required to travel to a static worksite each day. A study conducted by Great Place to Work reveals some interesting statistics:

  • Before 2020, only 5% of the US labor force worked from home. That number shot up to 60% in May of 2020.
  • Data from 715 companies and over 800,000 employees shows an increase in employee productivity from March to August in 2020 compared to the same six-month period in 2019. During that period, the increase was as high as 13%.

2. More engagement

The same study also showed that company culture and leadership, two factors important for on-site productivity, continued to be important for fully-remote work. Rather than feeling detached or separated from the organization, employees actually feel more engaged in their work when given the flexibility to choose. In turn, when employees feel cared for, they are more likely to contribute to creating a healthy culture.

3. Increased employee retention

Companies that have adopted a hybrid work model have seen higher employee retention. An article from Human Resources Director cites an increase in staff retention of as much as 10%. With increased staff retention, organizations also avoid expensive turnover. Hiring and training new employees takes time and comes with substantial costs.

4. Access to talent across the globe

Broadening the scope of work location increases the opportunity to attract talent from around the globe. Companies are more likely to be successful in their search for a concerted candidate who will commit to the company, align with its values, and enthusiastically participate in growth and investment opportunities that will benefit the employee and employer partnership.

The data is clear here: Giving employees the flexibility to choose to work from home or the office is key to developing an engaged workforce with a healthy work-life balance.

Why now?

But why is all of this change happening now?

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing influence of millennials are responsible kick-started the revolution. However, another important factor is technology. Now, in 2022, the technology layer has caught up to sustain the change. We have seen companies toying with the idea of a hybrid work environment in the past, but it didn’t gain traction without the technology we have today.

In 2006, Best Buy’s Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) program made news by allowing corporate employees to work from wherever they wanted. The average internet speed available in the U.S. at the time was 5Mbps, Google Docs had just been launched, and Office 2010 was still a few years away. Meetings routinely held online, easy sharing and collaboration of documents, and high-quality video calls (that didn’t lag) were still years away too. Citing access to reliable technology and the need for more efficiency, Best Buy ended the program, and by 2012 most of their workforce returned to the office.

Fast forward to 2022, and the average internet speed in the U.S. is 100Mbps, with a growing number of areas seeing up to 2Gbps. In terms of available bandwidth, the capacity for a remote workforce has grown by roughly 2000%.

Online collaboration tools are plentiful, user-friendly, and generally painless to implement and use. The learning curve is short. The world’s infrastructure has never been more ready for the current remote-work movement.

Additionally, and equally important as bandwidth, is cloud storage. Data costs have dropped dramatically, making both the processing and storage of data accessible to nearly everyone.

What does it all mean?

We are in the middle of a modern age working revolution. Organizations are discovering the benefits of enhanced collaboration and communication via digital channels. Automation and the sharing of critical, time-sensitive information increases transparency and speeds up the decision-making process.

Now more than ever, cloud technology has made it possible for businesses to raise achievement levels and develop a higher level of employee engagement as hybrid work becomes commonplace. While it wasn’t always viewed as a viable strategy, employers are now realizing the new norm can be very productive.

All of this aligns well with the emergence of SaaS (software as a service) applications. Organizations can, in many instances, reduce big, upfront capital expenditures on tech investments by customizing their toolkit of solutions to fit their business needs. As these web-based applications introduce new levels of automation, remote work becomes not only more productive and efficient, but also more rewarding by contributing to better work-life balance.

People all over the world trade in the currency of time. The ability to arrange it as they choose has become increasingly more valuable, and going back to a world of daily commutes is unthinkable for a growing number of people. Organizations will be required to innovate to attract the best talent and foster long-term commitment from their employees.

Millennials, who value work-life balance more than any generation before them, are set to make up a majority of the workforce this decade, and this has coincided with cheap data and ample bandwidth. There’s no going back. The new normal is here to stay.

Handling physical mail: a virtual mailbox for every employee

While the benefits of a hybrid work environment are clear, the sudden change has also challenged organizations of all sizes in a number of ways. One of those ways has to do with the mailroom.

Despite the push for everything to become digital, physical mail still plays a big role in day-to-day business. The question becomes, how do businesses efficiently receive and distribute mail and packages with a hybrid work model?

The answer is mailroom management software. Received Digital, a mailroom management solution built for the modern day, gives every employee a virtual mailbox so they can preview and action their mail from anywhere. With an easy-to-use, web-based application, the mailroom is able to image incoming mail and packages, and employees are notified automatically, whether they’re working in the office or at home.

Learn more about how Received Digital works here. And try it for free now!

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