Since the start of the pandemic, many companies and employees have adopted remote working. Companies across the globe have also started to implement hybrid workplace solutions to bring the workforce back in a physical environment.
However there are also employers that insist employees return to the office as they may not believe that hybrid or remote work is productive or feel that it’s hurting their organisation culture. Working from home during the pandemic has compelled many of us to pause and reflect on what we really want when it comes to work-life balance or integration.
As we continue to live with COVID, more and more employers are asking their workers to return to the office to regain some levels of normalcy. But most of us would rather be working from home, have a hybrid work schedule or flexible working arrangement. We have already adjusted to the new norms, so it’s not easy to shift back to old ways of working which may no longer be productive for us.
To successfully request hybrid work from your manager, you must first understand what are the different types of hybrid work and most especially what are the pros and cons for this kind of work arrangement.
what are the different types of hybrid work model?
Although often confused with remote working, hybrid working is not solely about working from home. Here are two of the most common examples of hybrid work arrangements:
1. flexible hybrid work
Hybrid flexible work would mean that the employee can work on flexible working hours and has the option to choose when to start and end work instead of having the boss decide that for them.
This is good news for not just working parents who want to start and end work early, but also night owls or people who prefer to start work later so that they can sleep in. Having this hybrid approach has helped many workers to achieve better work-life balance and have a more positive employee experience.
This hybrid model also works well with employees who work across time zones. Instead of having to work 9 to 6 and attend meetings again with their acquaintances later at night, they can choose to spread out their working hours throughout the day so that they get enough breaks, instead of having to clock extra hours outside of the normal work schedule.
2. hybrid remote work and in-office model
As the title suggests, it’s the combination of working both remotely and in the office. With this type of hybrid work, employees can decide whether they want to work from home or back at the office. This hybrid work environment option is often confused with remote working where the staff is allowed to work from anywhere, including a cafe or the beach.
Though it may seem trivial to some employers, many employees appreciate having the autonomy to decide whether to work from home or at the office.
Instead of feeling the dread of going to the office on a rainy morning and having to deal with wet shoes the whole day, they can simply make a decision to work from home. Working parents and caregivers would greatly benefit from companies that can offer them a hybrid environment for work. When working from home, they don’t need to engage nannies or helpers, and get to spend more time with their kids to deepen the family bond.
what are the benefits of hybrid working?
1. improve your time management skills
Having a hybrid arrangement can be a good thing, you get to be the one to choose when you want to work based on your work and personal schedule, you’re more likely to choose the time that you feel the most productive.
For example, a working parent who needs to send their kids to school by 7am would rather start work at 8am either from the office or at home, rather than wait for the typical office schedules to start at 9am. If they choose to work from home that day, they also get to be there for their kids who may be facing some difficulties with their homework. With a hybrid approach like this, it allows parents to have more control over how they choose to spend their time at work and their family.
Conversely, younger workers or people without family commitments may prefer to start work later at 10am. This would give them more time in the morning to sleep in, exercise or run some errands. Starting work later means that they can also spend more time with their friends later at night without having to worry that they may oversleep and be late for work the next day.
2. better focus and higher productivity
Hybrid work is more than just having good time management. Research has shown that hybrid working improves employee productivity, which can also boost employee satisfaction.
When you decide where and when you want to work, you will focus better which would lead to fewer mistakes and higher productivity. A working parent would focus better at work when their kids are at school. You also don’t need to worry about feeling tired or lethargic at work because you get to sleep in a little more in the morning. Overall, it improves the employee’s experience, and people can work more productively.
disadvantages of hybrid work
Apart from the advantages most of us get out of hybrid work, there are also challenges and cons that some people face with it too.
1. overworking and burnout
The biggest concern regarding the hybrid workplace model is the potential of overworking which might lead to burnout. Even if you don’t have the intention to work more than you should, you may instinctively read and reply to new emails while getting ready for bed. Or you may feel guilty about starting work later and overcompensate even though you’ve already completed all your urgent tasks.
While working longer hours may make you feel accomplished if you’re able to get ahead of your deadlines, it can also lead to burnout which could seriously affect your mental and physical health in the long run.
2. disconnected from your colleagues
One downside of the hybrid working model is the decline in employee engagement. It’s tricky to maintain relationships between colleagues when you don’t know whether you’ll get to see them that day. While many of us work in a remote team, we may also experience reduced physical and social interaction. You spend less time with your teammates, and the closeness that you once shared with them may start to waver.
If your colleagues show up in the office on the day you choose to stay home, you may feel like you’re missing out on some of the fun, social interactions or important meetings that you would have been a part of had you been in the office. This may make you revert to working in the office full-time, which defeats the original purpose of the hybrid workplace model.
how can you negotiate for hybrid work with your employer?
The most commonly-asked question from many employees is whether they can negotiate for hybrid work options with their employer. The answer is yes.
There is no definitive best schedule for hybrid work and arrangements will vary depending on the nature of the job, industry and employer. For example, hybrid work options would not be as appropriate for a process plant worker who has to be physically present at the assembly line, compared to a software developer who just needs their laptop and phones.
It’s also good to take note of the working schedule for this work model. Here are two examples of what hybrid work schedule might look like:
- 2 days per week in the office and 3 days from home for a typical 5-day work week
- alternating weeks, in which you spend the even weeks in the office while alternate weeks at home
But before you request to work from home, here are the key questions you should consider first:
1. is your employer already thinking about offering hybrid work?
Some employers and business leaders may still be on the fence when it comes to implementing hybrid work models, even after working from home for two years.
They may fear that such hybrid workplace solutions are going to l have a negative impact on organisational culture or question their own sensibilities of implementing it.
You may casually bring up the idea of a hybrid working arrangement to your manager and ask if the company has any plans for that, just to get a sense of where the organisation is at. If they are already thinking about it, then you can raise your hand to share your inputs on how to roll out hybrid arrangements operationally.
2. are you performing at work?
Timing is everything. If you’ve been struggling with work and your manager doesn’t exactly have a good impression of you right now, then it’s not a good time for you to ask for more work flexibility.
For hybrid work to work, your manager and you must share mutual trust. They need to have the confidence that you are responsible and committed to getting the job done, no matter where you are or what time you’ll be working.
If you feel like you have gotten more control over your workload and time, and have maintained good relationships with your colleagues, then you should have a chat with your manager about the possibility of working from home.
3. what’s your plan for hybrid work?
The reason why we’ve worked from home the past two years is for our safety. However, the reasons why you want hybrid work now may vary for everyone, depending on their lifestyles.
When speaking with your manager, make sure that you’re clear about the reasons why you want to be able to work from home or at a certain time. Make sure that your reasons are not all personal either. You should show evidence of when you were more productive working from home and how it has helped you both in your professional and personal life.
what if hybrid working is not an option for you?
Even after the pandemic, there are still some companies that don’t offer hybrid working arrangements. However, that’s not what you want in an employer.