The Hybrid Workplace and the Future of Work

By Kelvene Requiroso

Digital transformation and the coronavirus pandemic have accelerated the evolution of hybrid work. More companies are adapting to this new normal in the workplace, in which there will be three types of work arrangements: office-based, fully-remote, and flex, a hybrid of the two.

According to a Slack study, 51.6 percent of remote workers report an improved work-life balance, and 45.8 percent say they are satisfied. Only 12 percent would like to go back to office-based work full-time. And the trend is global. People want workplace flexibility, desiring a hybrid work arrangement.

Seventy-four percent of the global workforce prefer a blend of office-based and work-from-home arrangements. An optimal work model is 51 percent office and 49 percent remote. Contracts should be results-based, not based on the number of hours worked, according to 69 percent of respondents.

Salesforce and Reddit lead the way

Remote work is not for everybody. Some employees find it comfortable in an office setting as their roles require; others can work more effectively anywhere.

Salesforce and Reddit highlight flexibility for employees as they return to the office post-pandemic, offering three ways of working: office-based, flex or hybrid, and fully remote.

Salesforce sees the new flexible work environment as a way to broaden diversity and improve equality, as hiring is no longer limited by location. Salesforce is also redesigning office spaces to make them more collaborative. Reddit is taking much the same view, and even allowing employees to move to different areas if it can be accommodated.

Of the three groups, office-based workers spend 4-5 days per week performing their tasks—doing paperwork or meeting customers—in the office. They should be the smallest population in the company.

The flex or hybrid option allows employees to work 1-3 days per week in the office for customer meetings, team collaboration, presentations, etc. They might live near the workplace, but they can work anywhere—from home, on the go, or in the office.

The fully remote option is for employees who live away from the office working on roles that they can do outside the office. But this option should be categorized as city-based remote and global-based remote.

City-based remote employees live in the same city or nearby cities and can commute to the office. But they don’t have to drive to work every day since they can perform their tasks remotely. They work home-based or mobile. They also have an option to come to the office for meetings, training, and socialization.

Global-based remote workers are skilled and experienced workers from other countries, living in different time zones. They could get an invite to the office for important events. And in most cases, they have different pay ranges than their counterparts in U.S. cities.

Remote worker pay

In a fully remote work arrangement, will companies pay the same worker salaries wherever they reside? Global remote workers in Caracas, New Delhi, or Manila receive lower pay than those in New York, Los Angeles, or London for the same job, output, and expectations.

In Reddit’s model, where team members can work away from the office, if a remote setting makes them more productive, everyone receives the same pay range as office-based employees. The company eliminates location-based compensation. The pay range in other places across the U.S. is the same as the pay range in expensive cities like New York or San Francisco. Reddit also maintains a one pay range per country for international teams.

But will other companies follow Reddit’s lead? Remote work opens opportunities for diversity as the talent pool expands. Attracting the best talent might require a reassessment of the notion of location-based salary and compensation.

This approach could mean a downside for companies outside of major cities, who might be forced to pay more for local talent or lose their best employees to companies like Reddit paying higher rates.

Pros and cons of a hybrid workplace

A hybrid work environment has potential downsides. There might be less access to information, lack of workplace socialization, absence of spontaneous interactions with colleagues, stagnant employee development, and fewer career opportunities. Investments in technology, innovation, and creativity can address these issues. Leaders can interact with employees both virtually and in-person for better collaboration across teams and to improve retention rates.

But the benefits of a hybrid workplace outweigh the disadvantages. The hybrid model addresses issues of social distancing measures that governments adopt due to the pandemic as well as the hassles of the daily commute. A hybrid work environment increases productivity. It redefines our notion of work as an employee can focus on performing tasks and driving growth, which will create more jobs and opportunities.

Combining office-based and remote work environments offers flexibility, convenience, and safety. It allows workers to spend more time with their families. With the availability of technologies for communication and efficient team collaboration, a company can access a diverse pool of talent across geographic locations, potentially addressing skills shortages.