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Return to Work: Should You Consider a Hybrid Work Model?


If remote working has turned out well for your business this past year, you may be thinking of continuing it. You are not alone. As per the 2021 Hays Salary Guide, 40% of Canadian employers would like to include remote work into their normal practices.

While the traditional office may now seem outdated, switching to remote work permanently may also seems risky. You could also consider a third option — a hybrid work model.

What is a hybrid work model?

A hybrid workplace has both remote employees and in-office staff. Under a hybrid model, you could downsize your office space. Let employees whose physical presence is essential to business come into work. Others can continue to work from home.

What are the advantages of a hybrid workplace?

A hybrid workplace provides the benefits of both a remote and a physical office. It:

Lowers overhead costs

A smaller workspace means lower rent. Fewer employees at work would also lower the expenditure on utilities, office equipment, kitchen supplies, etc.

Boosts staff productivity

Employees whose roles transition well into remote work are freed from the hassle of daily commutes. They can focus better on their work at home.

Increases employee retention

According to the 2021 Hays report, employees listed the option to work from home as one of their “most desired benefits”. By offering this option, you’ll have an edge over your competitors. It’ll help you attract and retain talent.

Allows you to better support staff with special circumstances

A hybrid workplace will make it easier to accommodate staff with caregiving responsibilities or a disability.

Broadens your talent pool

Since majority of your staff is remote, you aren’t restricted by your geographical location when it comes to recruiting. You can hire qualified candidates from across your province or even the country.

What are the challenges of switching to a hybrid work model?

Before taking a decision, you must carefully consider whether a hybrid work model would be viable for your business. Would it increase or at least maintain the existing level of productivity? Do your employees want to become full-time remote workers?

When you recall some teams to work and let others transition to a permanent work-from-home set up, you’ll have to review and restructure certain roles, communication strategies and workflow processes.

You’d also need to update policies on remote work and remote workplace health and safety.

While you maintain a smaller physical office, you’ll have to invest in remote collaboration software. You’ll need to provide your remote staff with equipment they’ll need to work efficiently from home. You may also need to hire more IT staff to support your remote employees.

Bear in mind that not everyone enjoys remote work. Some employees may prefer the structure and discipline that going to office provides to their daily routine.

Remote workers who live alone may miss socializing with their colleagues in person. They may feel isolated and this may affect their mental health in the long term.

Also, not everyone may have the space or privacy at home to set up an ergonomically sound home office. You may need to make remote working optional for such employees.

Need support navigating business issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as with any other HR, health and safety, or employment advice you need. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation.