As our world becomes increasingly fast-paced and interconnected, the way we work is also changing. Gone are the days of the traditional 9-to-5 workday in a cramped office. Today, we are seeing a new type of work arrangement that is becoming increasingly popular: the hybrid workplace model. With limited physical office space in Singapore and high costs associated with it, the hybrid model presents an especially attractive alternative for companies seeking to reduce overhead costs. Here are some of the benefits and disadvantages of the hybrid workplace model and the steps that companies can take to minimise the downsides.
1. Shorter commuting time and lower costs
In a hybrid workplace model, employees have the option of working from home, the office, or any location of their choice. Such flexibility has revolutionised the way we work, by providing employees with the convenience and freedom they need to balance their work and personal lives. Instead of a long and often expensive commute, employees can work from the comfort of their own homes, reducing the time and cost associated with commuting.
2. Increased productivity
In a study conducted by Stanford University, researchers found that employees who worked from home were 13% more productive than their office-based counterparts. This study also showed that employees who worked from home took fewer sick days and reported higher job satisfaction. The increase in productivity can be attributed to several factors, including a quieter and more distraction-free work environment, the ability to focus on work without interruptions, and the flexibility to work at their own pace.
3. Cost-saving for companies
With Singapore having one of the highest office rental rates in the world, it comes as no surprise that companies would embrace the hybrid workplace model, especially in times of economic downturn. By allowing employees to work from home, companies can save money on office space, utilities, and other related costs. This helps to further reduce overhead costs and maximise profits for the company.
4. Improved employee satisfaction
In addition, the hybrid workplace model can also lead to improved employee satisfaction and retention. A 2021 study by Harvard Business Review showed that employees who work in a hybrid workplace environment are more satisfied with their jobs and are less likely to leave the company. This is because the hybrid workplace model may provide employees with the flexibility and work-life balance that they need, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and motivation.
While the hybrid workplace model provides numerous benefits, it is important to note some of the downsides to this model.
1. Decreased efficiency in communication
One of the most significant challenges of the hybrid work model is communication. With some members of the team not being physically present, it may be difficult to maintain clear and consistent communication among the team. The communication gaps that arise subsequently may then create misunderstandings, delays, and reduced productivity.
To mitigate such communication challenges, employers need to implement effective communication tools and protocols. For example, they can use messaging apps and video conferencing software to facilitate communication and collaboration. They can also set clear expectations for communication and establish guidelines for response times and communication channels.
2. Feelings of loneliness and isolation
In contrast to having daily face-to-face conversations with colleagues in the office, hybrid work almost completely strips employees of such physical interactions. Interactions, if any, would mostly occur online, with both parties physically separated by a screen. This inevitably compromises the quality of conversations and connection formed between parties. In the long run, this disconnect compounds the feelings of isolation and loneliness in employees, which can significantly affect their emotional wellbeing.
3. Decreased work-life balance
Singapore’s work culture, coupled with its fast-paced and competitive work environment, may present some challenges for the hybrid workplace model. Boundaries between work and personal life can blur easily and individuals may end up working longer hours than before. Often, with their work devices next to them, employees work outside their regular working hours just to complete their heavy workload. They also find themselves having to reply to their employers’ messages promptly or risk facing criticism for being unresponsive. Essentially, work is no longer terminated by leaving the workplace, which makes it challenging for employees to maintain a work-life balance.
To prevent overwork, it is necessary to be able to detach oneself from work-related matters outside of working hours. Employees can switch off and put aside their work computers and turn off work notifications after working hours. Employers should also refrain from contacting employees about work via their personal devices unless there is an emergency.
4. Weakened workplace relationships
Additionally, with employees working from home, there is a reduction in opportunities for social interactions, which makes it more challenging for employees to build or deepen relationships with their colleagues. Some of them have not even met their colleagues in person! Given that close relationships with colleagues are essential for creating a supportive and collaborative work environment, it is imperative that employers take sufficient steps to maintain a cohesive team despite these challenges.
Employers can provide opportunities for virtual social interaction, such as online team-building activities and virtual happy hours. While these activities may not be comparable to having daily physical interactions, they can help employees feel more connected to their colleagues. Alternatively, teams can arrange a common day for everyone in the team to meet to catch up and update one another of their progress or bring up any concerns. Instead of returning to the office, teams can choose to convene at a location most convenient for its members. Be it co-working spaces or meeting rooms, Deskimo offers a wide range of workspaces that are ideal for work and collaboration. Simply filter the available locations on our app by location, price or capacity to choose the best workplace for you and your team.
The hybrid workplace model is a flexible and innovative approach to work that provides numerous benefits to both employees and employers. As more and more companies adopt this model, it is likely to become the new norm for work in the future. Hence, it is important that companies take the necessary measures to tackle any challenges that arise, through establishing effective communication tools and providing regular in-person collaboration opportunities. By doing so, employers can ensure that hybrid work models are successful, productive, and sustainable.