What is a Hybrid Workforce?
Hybrid Workforce is, as its name suggests, a type of workforce that is not confined by factors such as geographical location, a fixed schedule, and a rigid style of working. In a hybrid workforce model, employees can work either from their respective homes or from the office as per their convenience.
The central premise of a hybrid workforce is to enable employees to work with maximum efficiency and simultaneously have a substantial degree of work-life balance. Therefore, the employees of a hybrid workforce, also referred to as hybrid employees, are allowed ample flexibility in terms of both the time and place of work. This makes it easier for them to enhance their productivity in their professional roles without having to compromise on their personal responsibilities.
Although the concept of a hybrid workforce has been in place for a long time, its scope and application has drastically risen in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. With most companies bringing about a transformation in the way their employees work, hybrid workforces have become the new normal. Not only does this model enhance the flexibility at the disposal of employees but it also helps improve their physical, emotional, and overall well-being.
What is the Hybrid Workforce Model?
“The future we envision for work allows for infinite virtual workspaces that will unlock social and economic opportunities for people regardless of barriers like physical location. It will take time to get there, and we continue to build toward this.”
– Andrew Bosworth, Vice President, Facebook Reality Labs
The seamless functioning of a hybrid workforce revolves around the implementation of a hybrid work model. This model allows for an amalgamation of working from the physical confines of the office and working from home. With the application of the hybrid work model, the employees of an organization can select whether they wish to work from home or commute to and from their workplaces to discharge their professional responsibilities.
A hybrid work model places a higher emphasis on enhancing the employees’ ability and drive to work with efficiency rather than the place where they work. In fact, the adequate implementation of the model renders the place of work largely irrelevant. With reduced travel times, employees can get more and better work done with lesser effort and have lower amounts of stress, thereby leading to higher productivity.
Why Should You Opt For a Hybrid Workforce?
There is no dearth of reasons why you should opt for a hybrid workforce for your organization. Here are some reasons why it is an excellent approach.
Access to a wider talent pool
Not only does a hybrid workforce result in higher flexibility and efficiency for the employees but it also makes the operations of an organization highly dynamic and inclusive. By incorporating a hybrid workforce, an organization can engage individuals who are not in the same geographical location, including both full-time resources and part-time and/or contractual ones.
Therefore, your organization can work with people living in different cities and even different countries without them having to move to the place/s where your office/s are located. For instance, an information technology multinational company with its headquarters in New York City can have employees working from home across the globe, including in, say, Mumbai, Shanghai, Sydney, and Cairo.
Not only does the hybrid workforce model open new horizons for an organization in terms of hiring and employee engagement, it also enables them to save on operational costs such as office rent, electricity bills, and several other overhead costs associated with people working from the office.
Higher employee retention
Hybrid employees benefit from higher flexibility and a better work-life balance, which can significantly improve their efficiency and lead to a reduction in attrition rates. The ability to choose their working hours and not having to travel to the office everyday can also help employees with time management. A hybrid workforce is, thus, a win-win situation for everyone.
How Does a Hybrid Workforce Work?
You can think of a hybrid workforce as being conceptually similar to using more than one type of software to accomplish a task. Each has its own pros and cons, processing requirements, and time. However, instead of opting for one over the other, you can benefit from the advantages of both.
A hybrid workforce functions much the same way as a remote workforce does. However, it goes one step further than a remote workforce model and puts a highly flexible system of operations into place. With a hybrid workforce, an organization can easily categorize employees into those who must work from the office and those who can work from home. The criteria for this categorization can vary from one organization to another and include factors such as the type of the role, the work experience of an employee, etc.
In contrast with a remote workforce model, a hybrid work model calls for a more holistic approach to workforce management. With some employees always working from the office, some permanently working from home, and the remaining working partly from the office and partly from home, it becomes much easier for organizations to drive a reduction in operational costs as well as a rise in overall efficiency and employee engagement.
How to Build and Manage a Hybrid Workforce?
The concept of a hybrid workforce is increasingly gaining prominence across sector and geographical lines alike. Owing to its wide range of benefits for organizations as well as employees, the hybrid work model is being adopted by organizations of different scales. If you wish to switch to the hybrid work model in your organization, then you must have certain important infrastructure and systems in place.
Here are some strategies through which you can build and manage a hybrid workforce.
Determine your hybrid workforce requirements and plans
The first step in building a hybrid workforce is the determination of the roles that can be performed remotely and the ones that require employees to work from the office. You can also decide the number of employees you want to work remotely, and from the office. Alternatively, you can use a combination of the aforementioned strategies to offer hybrid working hours to your employees.
In order to implement your hybrid workforce plans, you must ensure the availability of the required infrastructure, including assets such as laptops for hybrid workers, the installation of the required software on those devices, the communication of the organization’s cybersecurity policies, etc.
Communicate with your employees and invite feedback
Once you have clarity on the hybrid workforce model you want to implement in your organization, you must communicate the necessary information to your employees. It is pivotal to share how the hybrid work model would work. Therefore, you must describe the responsibilities of the hybrid workers, the protocols for various tasks, the reporting structures, etc. In addition to this, it is critical to encourage your employees to ask any questions that they may have with regard to the new operational model.
Provide your employees the necessary resources and support
A hybrid workforce has several benefits but it has no dearth of challenges. Your employees may face technical difficulties, communication issues, and lack of the required support, to name a few. The key to a successful and seamless hybrid work model is to establish tools and ways for the hybrid workers to be able to voice their concerns and have their issues resolved in a timely manner.
Ensure equality across your hybrid workforce
One of the most important things you must be mindful of during the adoption of a hybrid workforce is adherence to equality. All the hybrid workers must be treated equally and provided the necessary infrastructural and managerial support. This is where the role of the Human Resources Department becomes critical. It is during the initial phase of the adoption of a hybrid workforce in your organization that the employees are likely to require the maximum support.
Examples of the Successful Application of the Hybrid Workforce Model
Due to its plethora of benefits, a hybrid workforce has been adopted by many organizations across the globe. Here are some of the major organizations that have transformed the way they operate by switching to a hybrid workforce.
The global automobile giant, Ford Motors, has decided to switch to a hybrid workforce. According to the new working model of the organization, employees will be allowed to opt for flexible working hours and working remotely.
Hailed as one of the earliest supporters of hybrid workforce, Microsoft has implemented organization-wide policies that enable employees to choose their place of work. With the design and implementation of the Hybrid Workplace Dial, Microsoft has put into motion a system that determines the maximum number of employees each of their offices can safely manage on a particular day. In the wake of the lockdowns that resulted from the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, these policies were put into place to ensure the health of the employees.
Spotify, one of the most well-renowned names in the world of streaming, has also adopted a hybrid workforce. The organization now offers its employees the choice between working from the office, a co-working space, or from home.
How to Secure a Hybrid Workforce?
Opting for a hybrid workforce has a host of advantages, which is why it is gradually becoming the preferred way of operation for organizations across the world. From global multinational companies to localized start-ups, a hybrid workforce is suitable for businesses of different sizes and scales. However, before putting this model to practice, there are certain logistical systems and protocols that organizations must put into operation.
The foremost bottleneck for a hybrid workforce is the enhanced security risks that arise from the employees of an organization working from remote locations and accessing privileged data. With the ever-rising threats to cybersecurity and user privacy, it has become more important than ever before for organizations to be mindful of the ways through which they can build and manage a hybrid workforce without risking non-compliance to security protocols.
Here are some strategies that can help your organization access the benefits of a hybrid workforce yet in a secured manner.
The creation of secured Virtual Private Networks
Instead of letting employees work on external networks, your organization must create and implement Virtual Private Networks or VPNs. This approach can uproot a wide gamut of security threats and ensure compliance with the organization’s cybersecurity protocols. The application of secured VPNs can help hybrid workers accomplish their tasks without facing any access-related issues and the organization can easily identify any security risks in a timely manner.
The implementation of comprehensive user access protocols
Another important strategy for the creation and management of a successful and safe hybrid workforce is the implementation of comprehensive user access protocols, for instance, two-factor authentication, periodical prompts for changing login passwords, etc. The analysis and enhancement of your organization’s cybersecurity policies can ensure the security of privileged data.
The compartmentalization of access to organizational data
It is no secret that in this day and age, information is power, which is why organizations go to painstaking lengths to protect their data from any kind of threats – external and internal alike. One of the easiest ways to prevent the misutilization of organizational information is to restrict access to it.
Whilst each hybrid worker must be provided with access to the required data and software, the access to specific data that is not required by all employees during the course of their work should be restricted. This way, you can ensure that the organizational data stays safe.
Training employees on cybersecurity norms
In addition to putting all the necessary cybersecurity hardware and systems in place, your organization must also pay heed to the training of employees with regard to cybersecurity rules. Such training can take the shape of live virtual seminars as well as recorded tutorials.
The main objective must be to educate the hybrid workers on the major cybersecurity threats they should watch out for and the safe ways to avoid those threats. The encouragement of simple practices such as logging off from a particular software after every session and only visiting sites with standard URLs can go a long way in the safe functioning of a hybrid workforce.
The regular monitoring of the organizational assets/devices used by hybrid workers
It is not sufficient to merely put all the cybersecurity norms into practice and expect your organization to work without any security threats. You must ensure that there is a periodical monitoring of all the organizational assets being utilised by the hybrid workers. The dedicated Information Technology team of the organization must audit all such devices for any security threats or non-compliance with the established cybersecurity rules.
The implementation of a hybrid workforce can bring about a significant transformation in the efficiency of your organization. If you keep the aforementioned strategies in mind, then you can build and maintain a safe and successful hybrid workforce.
What are the Responsibilities of the Leaders of a Hybrid Workforce?
Adopting a hybrid workforce is an excellent way to prioritize employee health and well-being as well as organizational productivity. In order for a hybrid workforce to work efficiently, the leaders of an organization have to play an instrumental role. Here are the major responsibilities of the people who are in leadership positions in an organization with a hybrid workforce.
Effective communication with the employees
If you are a leader of a hybrid workforce, then you must know that communicating all the policies and procedures to your employees in as clear a manner as possible is critical to the smooth functioning of the organization. These communications can take the form of emails, podcasts, virtual meetings or training sessions.
Establishing clear team structures
For a hybrid workforce to function without any glitches, it is pivotal that hybrid employees have clarity on the structure of their teams, who their reporting managers and team members are, and whom they should reach out to for various issues. Establishing a clear hierarchy of communication can pave the way to the timely redressal of various operational challenges.
Setting work goals and monitoring their implementation
One way in which a hybrid workforce is no different from a conventional workforce is that both have the primary managerial goal of getting things done by the right people at the right time. In pursuing this goal, it is critical for the leaders of hybrid workforces to set the goals for each team along with their timelines. Furthermore, leaders should provide the required support to the various team leaders and help them as and when required.
Encouraging employee development
Another important responsibility of the leader of a hybrid workforce is encouraging employee development. This can be achieved by providing the workforce with the required training and resources to develop and/or enhance their skills.
What are The Benefits of Using a Hybrid Workforce?
There are several advantages of having a hybrid workforce in your organization, including:
Higher employee productivity
One of the foremost benefits of hybrid teams is that the flexibility of choosing their own working hours and place of work enables employees to work with greater efficiency. The synergy generated by each employee and team working with high efficiency translates into high productivity for the organization.
The ability to collaborate with people working remotely
With the adoption of a hybrid workforce, you can access a wider pool of people to work with without having to be constrained by geographical boundaries. For instance, if you wish to engage the services of a software designer living in London for one of your new projects without them having to move to your offices in Kolkata, having a hybrid workforce offers you the opportunity to do so.
The savings in terms of cost
By the sheer virtue of not having all of your employees working from the office, you can save a significant amount of money in terms of the rent for the office space, the maintenance cost of the premises, the electricity bills, etc. Employers could utilize these savings to improve the quality of their business and provide better support to their workforce.
A better work-life balance for the employees
A flexible working model enables employees to focus on their work as well as their personal lives. A higher work-life balance can, in turn, lead to reduced chances of physical and mental ailments alike. Healthy and happy employees are unlikely to leave the workforce or cause productivity-related issues, thereby leading to an overall lower degree of attrition.
What are The Challenges of Using a Hybrid Workforce?
Despite its plethora of benefits, a hybrid workforce is not without its fair share of challenges. Here are the major challenges you may face after adopting a hybrid workforce in your organization.
One of the main challenges of having a hybrid workforce is that it leaves your organization open to a wide variety of security-related challenges. Allowing employees to work from remote locations makes it difficult to ensure adherence to the organization’s cybersecurity protocols. This can lead to the exposure of the confidential data of the organization.
The lack of teamwork and coordination
In a hybrid workforce, it is often a challenge to establish coordination, timely communication, and teamwork. Since different employees work at varying times of their choosing, ensuring that there is no delay in sharing important information is an uphill task.
When a part of your workforce is working remotely, you can’t ensure complete compliance with working hours and delivery timelines. If any of the employees are not honest in the discharge of their duties, their team’s efficiency and, in turn, that of the entire organization, may be adversely affected.
How Can Multiplier Help You Adopt a Hybrid Workforce?
Having a hybrid workforce is an excellent way to enhance the efficiency of your employees as well as their work-life balance. Simultaneously, it is a driver of organizational efficiency. If you wish to adopt a hybrid workforce in your organization, then Multiplier can help you with the seamless implementation of the transition.
We can be your partners through the different facets of the process, including onboarding your international employees, processing the payroll, and maintaining employee records, to name a few. If you want more information on the solutions we provide at Multiplier, you can visit our official website now. We hope we can be of assistance to you and your organization.