Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been rethinking what the workplace should look like. When employees were sent home to work it was a truly unique experiment in the working world. What did we find? Well, working from home is actually beneficial in a myriad of ways. From increased employee satisfaction to lowering costs for businesses, we began to see that there could be a new way to work. When employees were asked to come back to offices, essentially back to the old way of working, we saw an unprecedented number of employees leave the workforce in “The Great Resignation”. This spurred businesses to re-consider how they ask their employees to work and the concept of the hybrid workplace was born.
What is a Hybrid Workplace
A hybrid workplace allows employees to decide when and where they would like to work. They can choose to work at home, in the office, or a mix of the two. Some companies that have made the switch to a hybrid workplace will give employees total freedom to choose where they are working, while others have required a certain number of days in the office.
A hybrid workplace often means that employees have more autonomy in when they work as well. Employees are able to get their work done when they are most productive, rather than required to work at certain hours.
Another aspect of the hybrid workplace can mean a more flexible office space for the employees to enjoy. Rather than offices and cubicles, shared workspaces have become preferred. Many companies have been turning their formal offices to more collaborative and comfortable spaces for employees to enjoy.
The hybrid workplace concept has many benefits to both the employer and the employee. It has opened up many job opportunities for people who were previously not eligible for certain positions due to the city they lived in. This, in turn, provides a larger pond from which to “fish”, for companies while they are hiring. It has also been shown to increase productivity, which is a major win for companies.
Real World Examples
Microsoft is a mainstream name in the corporate world. They set the tone for how many companies roll out policies. They have turned to hybrid workplace settings and flexible hours are standard. They have positions available for both remote workers and hybrid workers. They offer hybrid employees the opportunity to work from home for 50% of their hours.
Spotify has been a leader in promoting a true hybrid work experience for its employees. Their employees can not only work fully remotely, but Spotify will actually pay for them to rent a co-working space if they do not live in an area with a Spotify office. Spotify is fully embracing that employees are all individuals with very different work styles and needs.
While Spotify has gone all-in on the hybrid workplace model, Apple has taken a more conservative hybrid model approach. They are requiring employees to come into the office every Tuesday and Thursday and depending on their positions, there are other fixed required days for them to be present in the office. This has actually been considered controversial, especially in the tech world. Many believe there are better ways to entice employees to come into the office, including changing employee benefits.
8 Changing Employee Benefits in a Hybrid Workplace
With the work environment undergoing monumental change, it is only natural that employee benefits will change as well. Some of them are intentional and some have been great unintentional organic changes. Let’s dig in and see how employee benefits are changing in a hybrid workplace.
- More Flexibility
The hybrid workplace model allows employees to decide to work when and where they choose. This is a huge perk for employees and it just makes sense. Working from home gives employees their time back by allowing them to avoid commutes. It helps them get more sleep by allowing them to wake up later since they do not have to commute. Having a flexible schedule also allows employees to choose to work when they are at their most productive. Whether that is first thing in the morning or the middle of the night. It also allows them to avoid distractions that may be present in their home at certain times of the day. While this flexibility is a giant perk for employees, it can also really benefit the employer as well. The University of Michigan conducted a study that found that flexible schedules show a “reduction of need for additional time off for personal appointments.” Employees are able to take care of their personal business during the day while also getting their job done. This hybrid model helps companies maintain the manpower needed to carry the workload.
- Improved Office Environment
Hybrid workplaces have become expected in the last couple of years. This is something companies will just have to adapt to. Some are still making office hours mandatory, however, many companies have tried to avoid such a dictate. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to see more employees in the office, they are just taking a different route to get them there. This is something that has led to another new benefit for employees, a much better office environment to come to. Such companies are trying to “earn the commute” by making big changes to their working spaces. Many are switching from formal work offices with cubicles and private offices, to co-working spaces. Hybrid workplaces could include open floor plans with many different options for where and how to work. Comfortable lounges for catching up on emails or brainstorming with co-workers, conference rooms for larger meetings, standing desks for the physical benefits, private phone booths for when you do need that quiet for a call, and coffee lounges for breaks and connecting with fellow co-workers are all ways that companies are improving their employee benefits. Hey, I call that a win for employees.
- Better Nutritional Options
One of the major changes we saw during remote work during the pandemic, was definitely an increase in nutrition since employees were able to eat in their own kitchens for lunch and breaks. This is something that employees have been wary about returning to the office. They don’t want to go back to the unhealthy lifestyle of eating out all of the time, but they also don’t want to have to pack a lunch every day. Many companies have taken this into account, and are providing healthy in-office options for breakfast and lunch. They are also providing healthy snack and drink options to help get you through the day. So whether employees are working at home, in the office, or doing hybrid work, they have good access to more nutritious food options.
- Work Life Balance
Work life balance has always been a buzzword in the corporate world. How to have it all. This has always seemed like a pipe dream. It didn’t seem possible to grow in your career while having a great personal life. Our society decided we had to choose one or the other. However, the hybrid workplace has shown us that you can, in fact, have it all. When employees are allowed to work from home, they are seeing much more of their families. They are able to slip away for a school awards ceremony or to have lunch with a family member or friend. According to this study, employees who are able to work from home have greater satisfaction than those required to work in the office. Emotional wellness has also been on the rise with a hybrid workplace. It seems a work-life balance is not a pipe dream after all.
- Career Growth
One awesome new employee benefit to a hybrid workplace is more time for employees to take advantage of the continuing education offered to them through their companies. Hybrid working allows them to pursue additional degrees at home. This is beneficial for helping them further their education so that they can continue to grow and advance in their careers.
- Better Relationships
It may seem counter-intuitive, but relationships have actually improved with a hybrid work model. It seems that when you aren’t surrounded by people all of the time, you are more likely to reach out and develop relationships with those remote employees you feel most connected to. Improved technology has arisen due to working from home and it has made it possible to reach out to coworkers in different offices you wouldn’t otherwise meet. This technology has also made it possible for mentorship to continue to occur in the hybrid model and has even helped it thrive.
Along with technology that helps coworkers interact virtually, we also have many ways to continue to celebrate milestones and accomplishments in our coworkers’ lives. Create a fun group ecard for the whole team to post to and send to someone on their birthday or work anniversary. This is a great way to stay connected and help everyone feel celebrated.
- High Trust Environment
Nobody likes to be micromanaged, and the hybrid workplace has given employers the opportunity to place more trust in the employees to get their jobs done without too much oversight. This goes a long way to increasing employee happiness. According to the Harvard Business Review, “compared to employees in “low-trust companies,” employees in “high-trust companies” report “74% less stress, 106% more energy, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, [and] 40% less burnout.” Those numbers truly speak for themselves. Less stress and more energy? Now that’s a perk.
- Job Market Optionality
Now that hybrid or remote workplaces are more commonplace, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for employees for their hybrid work options. Many people have had to choose between their ideal location to live and their ideal job. This is no longer the case. Many companies are offering fully remote positions, or the optionality to rent a co-working space if you do not live near their office. This is a great opportunity for employees to live their best lives in both their career and personal life. It is also a major win for employers, as they can now access a deeper talent pool for recruitment.
Moving Forward with a Hybrid Workplace
As we have explored the changing benefits for employees in a hybrid workplace, we have discovered that it can truly be beneficial for employers as well. They are seeing more collaboration, increased productivity, increased employee happiness, a broader talent pool, and lower costs. The hybrid workplace has been shown to be a win-win for both employees and employers.