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Is Working from Home Here to Stay? Workplaces swiftly shifted from in-office to remote to meet the current health crisis. Now a hybrid model could emerge as the future ideal.

By Nickie Rowley Edited by Amanda Breen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Kathrin Ziegler | Getty Images

Many corporations have had employees operationally stationed at home for months on end, due to the current health crisis. Thus workers have had to conform to a new structure where there's 100 percent reliance on technology to perform and communicate. Initially, this was a culture shock for many traditional enterprises, but the learning curve has minimized for how to create a digital workplace functionally and culturally. Could it stay this way forever?

Benefits of working remotely

The new norm for many organizations has made transparent the reality of working from home for an extended time. It is proving to be effective for many businesses. Here are a few of the advantages that have emerged.

  • Increased productivity: For many employees, there are fewer distractions, less noise, and additional hours to complete deliverables
  • More work-life balance: There's no commute, less preparedness to get ready in the morning and more personal time
  • Location flexibility: One can live anywhere in the world and continue working for their employer.
  • Accommodating work styles: Workspaces can be curated to tailor to individual needs and/or preferences at home. (Do you focus better with hues of blue on the walls while listening to jazz music in slippers?)
  • Less office-space overhead: A big expenditure is reduced significantly when there isn't the need to house employees, provide on-site amenities and maintain a building

Related: What the Work-from-Home Boom Means for Your Future

Downsides of an offsite work setting

For many traditional workers, getting fully acclimated to remote working will remain a challenge because certain individuals perform better on-site. These are some reasons why.

  • More distractions: For some, being in a non-office space setting can distract from work — not everyone's home life is conducive to work.
  • Not knowing when to stop: Having work always accessible in a blended home/office environment can lead to overworking.
  • Nontraditional collaboration: The learning curve could be significant for mastering how to collaborate on certain initiatives virtually.

Related: Six Tactics to Improve Collaboration for Remote Teams

Implementing hybrid workplace practices

The pros and cons of in-person versus remote working vary. What works for one company or one person may not work well for all. It's vital for companies to hone in on capturing the data that tells them about working preferences and the effects on employee morale, happiness and company growth.

A hybrid model may be the best option as it gives employees the choice to pick the environment they're most effective working in. There are many benefits to this model.

  • Allows collaboration both in-person and virtually.
  • Promotes higher rates of productivity when people are in their ideal workspace.
  • Opens the hiring pool to more candidates globally.

Maintaining a hybrid workplace and culture

The roadmap for a hybrid workplace should be strategic with performance indicators and actionable steps to account for all logistics to support both environments simultaneously. The journey may not be frictionless simply because there's a big dependency on the adoption of technology and transitioning in-person processes to a digital experience. Although once transformation has transpired, the normality would be to maintain it.

The hybrid approach should encompass:

  • Training to provide instruction on best practices for sustaining culture virtually and tool utilization.
  • Collaboration through e-mail, chat/instant messaging and conferencing platforms.
  • Culture enhancements, including virtual planned activities/breakout sessions with staff, proprietary ways to connect heterogeneous groups, and celebrations of heritage.
  • Capturing feedback by disseminating surveys to assess issues, areas needing improvement and what's working well.

The evolution of a company is always vested in the culture that fuels it. Initially it may seem cumbersome to shift the in-office working paradigm that's hundreds of years old, but with scalable testing supporting what works well coupled with cross-team collaboration, the horizon looks bright for a hybrid work model.

Related: How to Keep Remote Workers Productive and Happy

Nickie Rowley

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Luxurious Web Design

Nicole Rowley is the CEO and Founder of Luxurious Web Design, a web development and online marketing company. She is an online instructor with more than 7,500 students in 85 countries. Rowley advises legacy businesses on digital transformation and startups on market entry.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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