Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of hype around hybrid work as “the future” of how we’ll be working in the years to come. Now that many companies are transitioning back to a more traditional in-office model, we are starting to learn more about what it means to work in a hybrid environment, as well as what works and doesn’t.  

With increased research and worker experiences on the topic, we may have a better understanding of the key features and challenges of working in a hybrid setting, including flexibility, communication, and collaboration. As companies continue to adjust their strategies, it’s important for workers and employers alike to stay informed and make smart decisions based on what we’ve learned about hybrid work so far. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the 6 biggest lessons that we’ve learned about hybrid work so far

  1. Many companies need to be flexible as they transition back to a hybrid set-up

As workers and businesses learn more about what works in hybrid work, one thing is becoming clear: flexibility is key. In many cases, people want their workplaces to cater to the fact that some days at the office will be good for them, and others will not. In some cases, workers may be feeling isolated or lonely after an extended period of remote work; in other cases, they may simply not want to spend too much time at their desks at all – especially if they’ve been working from home for a while and have found that it actually works well. 

For companies looking to transition back to hybrid work, this means they need to be willing to listen and make changes as needed. This may include adjusting where in the office people sit or what hours they work; it may mean keeping an open mind about how employees want to work on their off days. The key is for employers not to force rigid policies, but to instead work with employees and be willing to listen and evolve as the situation evolves

  1. Some companies are embracing the idea of a “remote first” approach

While some companies are still struggling with how to make a hybrid work set-up successful, others have embraced the idea of a more flexible remote-first approach. 

This strategy is based on the idea that, as much as possible, companies should embrace working from anywhere (and not just at home) and be willing to invest in tools and technology that enable this – such as video conferencing software or remote collaboration tools. 

The result can be a workforce that’s happier and more productive, as people are able to work in ways that suit them – whether that’s taking a few hours of remote working each week, or full-time from home. 

Data from LinkedIn demonstrates that the number of remote work options available in the US has increased dramatically over the past year. In March 2020, 1 in 67 jobs were remote-friendly; now, that number is closer to 1 in 7. What’s more, roles advertised as remote on LinkedIn tend to attract significantly more views and applicants than those for on-site positions. 

[Related: Top 6 Essentials Modern Workplace Technology

  1. Managing expectations is critical for success in hybrid work

As with any new workplace set-up, managing expectations is critical for succeeding in hybrid work. This means providing clear and consistent communication about how the new set-up works, what it entails, and what’s required of employees. It also means listening to feedback from employees, taking it seriously, and adjusting policies as needed to make sure that workers are happy and productive in their jobs. 

Finally, it means helping employees manage their schedules effectively, and perhaps even setting up flexible hours or remote days if needed. This means that people have the time to get their work done but also take care of other responsibilities – such as appointments, childcare, or taking care of a sick family member – without having to worry about sacrificing their job in the process

  1. The emotional impacts of hybrid work vary depending on the person

Isolation, stress, and burnout are common complaints among people working in a hybrid work setup. On the one hand, it can be hard for people to transition out of the solitary setting of remote work – especially if they have become accustomed to working on their own or with fewer colleagues around them. This can make it difficult to shift back into a more collaborative setting, and feel less connected to the company or their coworkers. 

On the other hand, too much collaboration can also be stressful – especially if it requires long hours at the office or constant meetings that take away from important work time. This can lead to feelings of burnout and frustration among workers who are trying to balance multiple responsibilities. 

To address these emotional impacts, it’s important for companies to create a supportive and empathetic work culture that acknowledges the challenges of hybrid work. This includes providing regular communication about how the set-up is working (and what changes may be coming), and actively listening to feedback from employees – both positive and negative – so that they feel heard and supported in their roles. 

  1. There is no one-size-fits-all model for success.

It’s important to keep in mind that each company and industry is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all model for success. What works well for a tech company may not be appropriate at all for an accounting firm, or vice versa. 

That’s why it’s essential for businesses to research what other companies in their industry are doing, and then experiment with different approaches to see which one works best. Along the way, they should pay close attention to feedback from employees, as well as changes in the market or technology that can affect how people work 

The hybrid-work model is not yet set in stone, and it seems that almost every company is figuring out what works best for them on the fly. Groups across the spectrum – from startups to large corporations – are all experimenting with different ways to make hybrid work for them. And this means that there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to what works, what doesn’t, and what we thought we knew about remote work in general. 

  1. Communication is essential to making hybrid work successful.

One of the most important factors in ensuring the success of a hybrid work environment is effective communication between employees and managers. This includes regular check-ins, both formal and informal, as well as clear expectations and feedback on a regular basis. 

Especially in the early stages of implementing hybrid work, it’s important to provide clear guidelines and expectations for how employees should approach their remote work. This may include instructions on tech tools they need to use, as well as tips and best practices for communicating with others within the company – whether this is through email, conferencing platforms, or other tools. 

At the same time, managers must be responsive to employee feedback and adapt their approach as needed. This may mean making changes to remote work guidelines, as well as providing additional training and support for employees who are struggling with the transition. Overall, effective communication is key in ensuring that everyone is on the same page and feels supported as they navigate this new way of working
 Looking ahead: the future of hybrid work 

At this point, it’s clear that the future of work is shifting towards a more collaborative, hybrid model. With technology allowing for increased flexibility and connectivity between team members, many companies are now embracing remote work as a standard way to get things done.  

But despite all the benefits that come with flexibly working remotely, it’s important for companies to think about how this change will impact their work culture. – This includes providing regular communication about how the setup is working (and what changes may be coming), and actively listening to feedback from employees – both positive and negative – so that companies can manage expectations and adapt accordingly.