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What is Hybrid Remote Work? Definition, Adapting Processes to Support Hybrid Teams & More

Mike Marks September 29, 2020

Pandemic pressure has placed many companies in a uniquely challenging position. Deep organizational change is needed, and there has been little time to spare for implementation.

In the wake of such a sudden shift in priorities, business leaders have taken an interest in remote and hybrid working options to bolster operational efforts and ensure business continuity during difficult times. The latter of these two options poses key benefits and tradeoffs that make it particularly appealing to companies caught in limbo between creating a fully remote-enabled workforce and successfully maintaining a productive in-person office space.

But what is hybrid remote work exactly, and how can it help employers adapt to market challenges? Read on to find out:

Bridging the Gap Between Office and Remote Work

Hybrid remote work isn’t the same as fully remote work, nor is it the same as traditional in-office work environments. Instead, it bridges the gap between onsite and remote work arrangements.

Remote Work vs. Onsite Work

Remote work and onsite work differ greatly in approach, impacting overall employee performance and productivity in unique ways.

Employees who are required to commute to their employers’ offices benefit from in-person collaboration and support, but this may not be as important as previously thought.

Surprisingly, it would seem as though hybrid and fully remote workers have the upper hand in productivity, with more than half of office managers having reported improvements in this area once employees shifted to remote working practices.

Hybridization as Middle Ground

Hybrid employees leverage the strengths of both remote and onsite work arrangements by preserving the productivity-enhancing personal space of their remote environments, while also benefiting from collaborative office space availability as needed.

Prioritizing Hybrid Remote Work by Making Office Use As-Needed

To more effectively shift priorities from traditional in-office approaches to more flexible remote options for daily business processes, companies are altering the core utility of common office space.

Where some companies have transformed the utility of their office spaces and floor plans to accommodate hub-like operations and low maximum thresholds for total in-person employees present at a given time, others have implemented processes to keep hybridized workers cycling in and out of the office periodically.

Instead of requiring employees to physically clock in every day, some hybridized workforces have established shared office space as being usable only when legitimately needed.

Such an approach differs from the office-space-as-hub take on labor hybridization, as the space is not intended to be accessed for trivial work activities that can otherwise be completed remotely. To support this approach, the central office space is designed with a greater focus on meeting spaces and privacy.

Adapting Processes for Hybridized Teams

Adopting a hybridized approach to staffing and labor involves adapting traditional in-office processes to remote settings. Two mission-critical organizational facets that must be carefully adapted to suit hybridized working models are security and compliance.

Managing Security and Compliance

Hybridized teams are not exempt from the constraints imposed by local regulations and organizational security guidelines.

Keeping hybrid remote workers secure and ensuring they have access to the tools they need to get their jobs done may be a complex task for certain types of businesses, but issues in this area are being addressed en masse with technology fit for the task.

Keeping Central Servers and Data Secure

Sustaining security measures for sensitive data handling and access with a hybrid workforce is especially important to keep organizations compliant with privacy regulations and more. This is usually done through the use of performance monitoring software and access management solutions for IT infrastructure, allowing remote employees to access information they need to do their jobs safely.

Legal Concerns to Consider with Hybrid Remote Work

There are a number of critical legal concerns worth taking into account that apply as much to hybrid remote workers as they do to onsite employees. The few that follow are applicable to most hybrid remote workers:

FLSA and Billable Hours

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes that employees working over 40 hours during the same work week must be compensated with pay that is one and a half times as much as their usual salary. Accurate records of wages paid and total hours worked by all employees must be kept by employers, as well.

Managing employee overtime is a relatively straightforward process in a traditional office environment; however, the process can prove to be more complex where hybrid remote workers are concerned. Keeping close tabs on the number of hours employees are putting into their jobs is pivotal for organizations looking to remain compliant without overspending on labor.

Work Environment Compliance

The importance of physical safety in shared office spaces is widely recognized, but that of remote and hybrid workers’ environments is not so widely understood.

Although hybrid and remote workers are generally responsible for their own safety in their own homes whenever they are not actively working, once they begin working, a significant burden of responsibility for their safety is transferred to their employers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) applies to any area where work is performed by an employee on behalf of an employer, making even fully remote workers’ environments a part of their employers’ set of responsibilities.

Hybrid remote workers need to be assisted in maintaining suitably safe environments in which they can perform their job duties to ensure the standards established in the OSHA are upheld wherever the employees may be. The hybrid approach actually makes this easier compared to fully remote work by allowing for employees to perform their duties within an office environment as needed.

Hybrid remote work serves as a flexible solution to a number of modern staffing conundrums. By implementing such an approach carefully, organizations can better leverage the full potential of their talent pool while keeping expenses in check and ensuring business continuity in times of crisis.

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