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What is the hybrid work model?

The hybrid work model is a flexible way to combine specific aspects of remote and on-site work. Different combinations are possible here. For example, one kind of hybrid arrangement lets employees choose where they work, such as three days at home and two days in the workplace. In other versions of the hybrid model, the employer sets the schedule or adopts a rotating or variable schedule. 

There is no doubt that remote and hybrid work has skyrocketed in popularity. And, employee preference is not the only thing trending. Productivity is on the rise too. But, like any work model, the hybrid model comes with advantages, risks, and consequences.

What advantages does the hybrid model give business owners?

The hybrid model provides many benefits for employers and business owners. Let’s look at three: 

  • Best of both worlds. A hybrid work model provides the best of both remote and in-person work. You can achieve innovation and creativity by having employees meet face-to-face and build relationships. On the other hand, although virtual work may make collaboration less effective, at least in some employers’ eyes, it lets employees focus on tasks with less interruption than at the office. Further, it gives employees a better chance to achieve work-life balance.
  • Increased trust by employees. When employers trust their employees to be productive and focused on work, whether on-site or remote, it goes a long way. 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.” Adopting a hybrid work model shows you trust employees to get their work done effectively and on time, even when you can’t physically look over their shoulders.
  • Broader talent pool. A hybrid work model can also let you recruit from a wider, more diverse talent pool. For example, by offering a hybrid model, you can attract top candidates who want or need a hybrid model to balance their work and life. Offering them this balance can increase employee retention and loyalty, which is good for employers in the long run.

What advantages does the hybrid model give employees?

The hybrid model provides many benefits for employees as well. Let’s look at three:

  • Increased employee satisfaction. When employees can work from home, their overall satisfaction rises, making them more productive and loyal. Good relationships between managers and employees are critical to job satisfaction and employee well-being. One suggestion to improve this relationship, and boost employee satisfaction, is by offering increased flexibility and autonomy.
  • Better work-life balance. If the last 18 months did anything, it brought the work-life balance discussion front and center. The increased desire for work-life balance, along with the technological advances over the last few decades have made it much easier for employers to offer remote and hybrid work opportunities.
  • More opportunities for career growth. A flexible work schedule may give interested employees more options for education, training, and career development. Education and career development are key concerns for many employees. Employers that create these opportunities in tandem with a hybrid work model may see higher employee engagement and productivity.

What are the primary risks and consequences of a hybrid model?

Any work model brings both benefits and challenges for employers and employees. For example, Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research identified three top employer concerns about the hybrid model: managing a hybrid team; giving employees the choice of “at-the-office” schedules; and impacting diversity. Add to that, maintaining high performance, effectively collaborating, and decreasing fairness (perceived or actual), and you’ve increased the workload (and stress level) of many employers. 

Amid employers’ uncertainty about the new work models, employees’ desire for work-life balance has given them the upper hand as we climb out of the pandemic, despite the concerns of their employers. In what has been dubbed “The Great Resignation,” employees are willfully leaving their jobs for more flexibility, more money, increased benefits, and more happiness. The pandemic has shifted people’s priorities, and they are looking for jobs that better align with those priorities.

What should employers consider before switching to a hybrid work model? 

As an employer deciding whether to switch to a hybrid work model, you’ll probably realize it’s essential to do your own homework. Consider the following:

  • Rethink the way you measure engagement and productivity. It might be helpful to adapt your key performance indicators (KPIs) to remote work because traditional KPIs may no longer fit your “new normal” model. 
  • Consider how you might adapt your internal policies and procedures to hybrid work. For example, how many days will employees need to be in the office. Is it a set policy? Do employees have discretion? You can look to industry trends to see what’s being established. However, keeping a written record of your policies in your Employee Handbook or in a specific Work from Home Agreement can help prevent misunderstandings among leadership and staff.
  • Find ways to accommodate employees working from home. For example, will you supply them with a company laptop? Will you give your remote employees a stipend to set up a home office? Talking to your employees to see what would best serve them is a good idea. And remember to speak with your IT specialists, who can show you how to put safeguards in place for remote workers.

Before implementing a hybrid model company-wide, it may be wise to offer to a limited group of employees telecommuting or Work from Home arrangements, designed to fit each position's needs, as a test run. 

How can employers improve the employee experience in a hybrid workplace?

The hybrid work model, in one form or another, is here to stay. The global pandemic made sure of that. As a result, organizations must focus on not just employee engagement, but the employee experience. Adapting the employee experience to a hybrid model is critical as we emerge from the pandemic. 

For example, think about technology, like chatbots or push notifications, reminding employees to get up from their computers and taking a break from screen time. Adapt technology that allows for collaboration, allowing you to remove the silos of on-site or at-home. Hold virtual check-ins with your team, helping managers keep a pulse on their employees’ efforts and development. Add digital tools and automation to make workflows seamless from their desk in the office or their kitchen table at home. And most importantly, ensuring easy remote access without sacrificing security makes a big difference in productivity.

Another way employers can improve the employee experience is simply by encouraging employees to engage in career development and growth. Offer training, education, and certifications that can be done remotely and relate to the work being done or provide the opportunity for an employee to move up. 

As you adopt a hybrid work model, keeping the employee experience front and center can benefit both your company and your employees. But taking time to fully understand your options and responsibilities in creating a more flexible work environment is crucial too. If you have legal questions about implementing a hybrid work model or any other employment issue, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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