In this article, we will embark on a journey to unravel the intricacies of flexibility within hybrid work and what you should consider before saying yes to an exciting new hybrid work opportunity.
Why Hybrid Work?
In the ever-changing landscape of work, the term “hybrid work” has gained popularity. The traditional 9-to-5 office routine has shifted to a more flexible and adaptable approach known as “hybrid work.” This shift has not only changed where and how we work but has also redefined our understanding of work-life balance.
Based upon a mix of work arrangements, that combines elements of working in a physical office with the flexibility of working remotely, typically from home, we can now combine the best of both worlds.
But are all hybrid work models the same? Are they all as flexible and comfortable as they seem? How can you spot differences between the different models? Keep reading to get your answers!
Extent of Flexibility in Hybrid Work
From highly autonomous workdays to structured routines, understanding the extent of flexibility in hybrid work is pivotal to both employers and employees. How much control can you exercise over your own work hours and environment? What are the implications for work-life balance? How can flexibility quickly become constrained?
These are the questions we aim to address as we navigate the evolving terrain of modern work arrangements.
When approaching hybrid work, an employer might present to its employees several different models. Some will better work for a specific group, while others due to their location, transport restrictions, or life schedule, might find it difficult to comply with.
Before accepting any job offer, it’s crucial to fully understand its implications, as the consequences can be more profound than you might initially realize.
Why Models of Hybrid Work
While no work model pleases everyone, there are several reasons why companies prefer hybrid to remote work models:
- Culture: In-person interactions allow for deeper connections and more meaningful exchanges, promoting teamwork, collaboration, and a sense of belonging.
- Control: Although the pandemic proved that it’s possible to be fully remote and still perform our duties as expected (here’s an article about it!), there’s still a lack of trust in what one is doing while no one is watching.
- Expenses: Since most companies can’t just delete their office from the equation due to many financial/legal reasons, “forcing” people to make use of it might be a way of justifying it.
Whatever the reason behind it, we should always try to understand the motivations for such a working model, as well as make sure it can accommodate our own personal life needs.
Different Hybrid Work Models
Several hybrid work models have emerged as common approaches for organizations seeking to blend in-office and remote work. Here are some of the most prevalent hybrid work models:
- Remote-First – It prioritizes remote work as the default option, having employees working in their preferred locations. Additionally, if available, there’s an office space for occasional meetings and collaborations. This model is usually the best scenario possible, as one can choose based upon their needs, when and where to work from.
- Rotation or Split Schedule – Employees follow a rotating schedule alternating between in-office and remote work on specific days or weeks. This model ensures that everyone has the opportunity to work on both scenarios. Unfortunately, some companies might not allow changes, meaning you might be penalized if you can’t attend on those days.
- Hybrid with Remote-Friendly Days – Employees are required to attend a number of days per week/month, being allowed to choose from their calendar which days work the best for them. In this model, the company raises awareness of the importance of being in the office and grants flexibility to its employees based upon a few constraints.
- Department-Based Model – Some companies organize hybrid work based on departments. Certain departments or teams may have more flexibility for remote work, while others require more in-office presence, depending on their functions and tasks.
The Impact of a Supportive vs. Controlling Management Style
You should take a close look at the management style before classifying a job offer as your best offer – even if it comes (among other things!) with the hybrid work model that pleases you the most – because it can significantly influence our work environment and experiences – regardless of the location.
- Controlling management – it’s a leadership style that emphasizes close oversight and direction. On the other hand, hybrid work is built on the premise of giving flexibility and autonomy, therefore, such control can undermine this benefit, if employees are imposed rigid rules and limited freedom to choose when and where to work from. It usually increases employee dissatisfaction.
- Supportive management – it’s a leadership style that emphasizes trust, and empowerment. By encouraging employees to prioritize their lives and choose their schedule having that in mind, it can boost team morale, foster a sense of belonging, and maintain a cohesive company culture, which ultimately leads to higher retention.
Overall, we, as employees, should consider all these factors, as it will determine how long our stay in the company will be. Fighting for a work-life balance is without doubt something to strive for.
Interview Tips to Assess Hybrid Work Opportunities
When preparing for an interview for a prospective hybrid work position, it’s crucial to address all the already mentioned points, such as the hybrid work models, the company motivations for implementing a hybrid work model, and the management working style, in order to avoid future disappointments.
- Understand the model – Before getting into the interview, make sure to research the specific arrangements the company offers, how flexible are they? Are those constraints changing quickly over time?
- Seek Clarity During the Interview – Ask questions about the model, including its expectations and any potential disparities in treatment. In case you can’t guarantee your presence on a given day, are there any consequences?
- Review the Company Culture – Look for signs that the company genuinely values work-life balance, diversity, inclusion, and employee well-being. Ask for examples of their normal routines, and how are these “back to the office” routines being perceived by their peers.
- Understand Communication Expectations – Although some companies promote hybrid work for the sake of the company culture, sometimes control might be the hidden motivation. Assess which sort of expectation exists while you’ll be working fully remote.
- Location Check – Explore the location freedom that is being offered to you on those days that you are not obligated to be in the office. Can you work from a different country? Or just a different city within the same country? Sometimes, due to compliance, you might be required to be in a nearby location to your office while working “remotely”, just in case you get requested to get to the office fast. Or, you might even be asked to just work “remotely” from your home and to use exclusively your own internet connection, at least while dealing with sensitive data.
- Optional Model – It’s always important to clarify how mandatory the model is. Sometimes companies like to give full freedom to their employees regarding when to be in the office, and the hybrid work model is just a term to say you have an office available for you if you need it.
Remember that the key to success in a hybrid work interview is to convey your ability to thrive in this unique work environment. Be prepared to adapt your responses to the specific requirements of the position and the company’s hybrid work model, as these can vary significantly from one organization to another.
But most importantly, make sure that by the end of the interview, you understand what hybrid work means to the company and how your personal life can adjust to the model.
Moreover, here’s an article to help you increase your productivity in hybrid work.
The Future of Hybrid Work
The landscape of professional life is undergoing a profound transformation. By implementing hybrid work models, companies can facilitate their employees’ daily lives, by giving them more flexibility to adjust their personal and professional lives.
However, not all hybrid work models are created equal! Especially because each company can create its own hybrid work model according to their rules.
The success of the hybrid work revolution lies not only in the flexibility it offers but also in the commitment to create environments where every employee, regardless of their work location, can thrive.
It’s up to you to fight for your rights and the work-life balance you strive for. Throughout several interviews, we can quickly understand what hybrid work means for a certain company. Nevertheless, we hope that with these tips, we can help you make some better-informed decisions.
Now, if you’re looking for an exciting new challenge, at KWAN we promise full transparency regarding working models, career progression, salary, or any other concern you might have regarding our opportunities! Talk to us, and let’s find the project that matches you the best!
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