To remote or not to remote? Hybrid is the answer.

It will come as no surprise that the way we organize our work has changed forever. Remote work has established a new era of the workforce for companies worldwide, with the number of remote employees growing from 5% to 60% during the pandemic.

Even though more and more companies have started considering returning their teams to the office due to the dynamic vaccination process, most have found that remote work carries quite a number of advantages. One of them is an increase in work effectiveness, in some cases by almost 30%, as there are much fewer distractions in comparison to working in an office space. Studies have also found that people tend to spend 13% more time on tasks when working remotely.

This might sound great in the short run, but in the long run, there is a very high risk of a massive burnout among remote workers. Research shows that 65% of surveyed remote workers reported working more hours than they had while working in the office, and a recent article by Gallup highlighted the fact that fully remote workers are now experiencing more burnout than on-site ones.

In addition to that, there are several other concerns that remote work rises - longer onboarding and integration periods for newcomers, sometimes prolonging from 7 to 8 weeks, and disregard of soft skills which influences promotions and motivation.

All of these factors have pushed many companies to reconsider their overall approach towards remote work and finally realize the importance of mental health in the workplace.

Goldman and Sachs were one of the first to address this new reality of work after a survey conducted by first-year analysts noted crushing workloads. Their CEO addressed the complaints and soon enough the company rolled out a “Saturday rule”, forbidding work on Saturdays, and committed to hiring more analysts to support the workload.

Other big corporations followed suit, with Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser banning internal video calls on Fridays and encouraging staff to take vacations, and LinkedIn giving its entire company a week off in April to prevent burnout.

So how can companies leverage the benefits of remote work and protect the mental health of their employees at the same time? What is the golden lining?

As in everything, it’s balance. A hybrid model of work, allows companies to get the best of two worlds. On one hand, it promotes innovation and creativity and still allows employees to have the much-needed face-to-face interactions, and on the other helps companies reduce costs and offer a more flexible regime.

It also helps distribute a company’s resources more effectively – for example, the time in the office can be used for tasks that require in-person communications and brainstorms, while the time at home for more functional tasks.

On top of that, the employees are already on board with it. A recent study by Accenture unveiled that 83% of 9,326 workers surveyed prefer a hybrid model — in which they can work remotely at least 25% of the time. Another survey highlighted the fact that 78% of HR professionals confirmed that flexible schedules and remote working are effective ways to retain workers without spending money.

This means that implementing a hybrid model won’t be a painful process, especially if it’s prepared in the right way and with the right approach.

In the near future, the office space will slowly transform into a space for creativity and collaboration, with operational flexibility becoming an important requirement for a company’s success. It is important to remember, that the office doesn’t set the tone and essence of a company’s workforce. Instead, the culture does. By building up corporate morale, strengthening internal communications, establishing key processes, and structuring them, companies will build an engine that will run at full speed and drive their development whether the employees are at the office or outside it. Implementing a hybrid model will help businesses embrace the new challenges that come their way, but building an atmosphere of trust and emphasizing personal connections will truly make them ready for tomorrow.

Author: Irene Skrynova, Global Head of Customer Success at Unlimint

Irene is a highly respected senior executive with diverse international experience in payments, acquiring, business development and business transformation.

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