Over the past 18 months, there has been a fundamental shift in the understanding of how work can get done. Companies that previously thought remote strategies would never work for their business or that workers would not be as productive were proven wrong as they shifted their workforces remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things are opening back up, some of these companies are eager to bring employees back to the office despite the advantages of remote working. However, their employees might not be as eager after experiencing the flexibility that comes with working from home — or anywhere outside of the office, really.

This is contributing to what many are calling the “great resignation,” where workers are choosing to quit rather than go back to an office. In fact, one study found that 34% of employees currently working remotely would leave their jobs before returning to full-time work in person, and 49% prefer a hybrid work model.

Navigating these workplace expectations is unprecedented, and employees’ preferences for totally remote and hybrid work models will inevitably change in the coming years. One thing is certain, however: If leaders want to avoid mass resignations in their companies, remote work — in some form — should stick around.


The Advantages of Remote Working Policies

We know that workplace expectations likely will never go back to what they were in 2019. As the above research indicates, working in an office five days a week won’t be employees’ preferred way to get the job done. Fortunately, companies that want to prevent talent from resigning have multiple options, from hybrid work from home to hybrid work from anywhere or totally remote work policies.

The flexibility of these work models helps both companies and workers determine what will work best for them post-pandemic and adjust accordingly. That could mean downsizing office spaces or investing in desk-sharing or “hoteling” services. A hybrid work model also allows organizations to hire workers outside of their geographic locations to create a presence in other areas or states to widen their talent pools.


Strategies for Adopting Hybrid Work Models

Although there are many advantages of remote working, there are also obstacles to adopting hybrid work models. They must be altered continually to match employee expectations, and they present logistical and cultural challenges. To mitigate these issues while designing a hybrid work model that keeps employees engaged with your company, ask yourself the following questions:

What do your employees want?

Rather than assume your employees’ workplace expectations, ask them. You might think that 70% of workers want to come into the office two or three days a week, only to find out that 25% of them do.

Sending surveys or having open forums for discussion will help you understand the potential implications of setting up a flexible remote work policy that doesn’t align with employees’ wants. This also makes it easier to adjust your policy and create a win-win solution that works for both your business and your employees.

What positions and tasks are best suited for the office?

Being clear on your expectations for when employees should be in the office is critical for implementing a successful hybrid work model. For example, will team members be required to go to the office for team meetings or brainstorming and collaboration sessions?

No matter what positions and tasks you decide should be in-person, define what will be best for productivity upfront and share it with your workers so everyone is on the same page.

How will a hybrid model affect your office space and infrastructure?

If you adopt a hybrid or totally remote policy, will you need to downsize your physical office space? Keep in mind that downsizing on a five-year lease, for instance, might make it difficult to get the necessary space if employee preferences shift back to in-person in a few years.

If you require that people come in one or two days per week, will they come in on the same days or will you stagger the days? Perhaps most importantly, your IT security protocols and processes might need to be updated if you implement a work-from-anywhere approach to ensure your organization stays protected.

Do you need to make changes to your employee engagement strategy?

If you’ve built a strong culture based on in-person engagement, you’ll need to adjust your strategy to create remote work collaboration opportunities designed for a dispersed workforce.

That could mean hosting virtual coffee breaks or happy hours, providing time off for groups of workers to volunteer at local charities, or bringing the whole team to your primary office once a year for in-person relationship-building and camaraderie.

Due to COVID-19, companies across the globe are changing the definition of “business as usual” — and there is no better time to include hybrid work models in that definition. These models offer the flexibility that businesses need as they navigate new workplace expectations, ensuring that their top talent sticks around for the long haul.


More employees than ever are looking for flexible remote work policies. Learn more about how to attract and retain talent in an increasingly tight labor market here.


Written by: Sara Jensen, Vice President of Business Development at IES

Sara Jensen is the vice president of business development at Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a leading global employer of record in more than 150 countries that specializes in payrolling and contractor management services for today’s contingent workforce. Founded in 1974 in San Diego, IES has grown into one of the city’s largest women-owned businesses and has been named one of its “Best Places to Work” for 10 years in a row.

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