The 2020 global pandemic has driven a significant shift in the way we work. And, the return to “normal”, showed that these new work models are here to stay. But this change is proving to be a challenge for leaders who now have to deal with different work models, organizational rules and requests from employees, who today feel different needs.
Hybrid, remote and flexible working models are becoming the norm in the world of work and companies must respond to the challenges they bring if they want to stay ahead of the race in the fight for talent, productivity and business success.
Different Ways of Working
Working at home, half at home, half at the office, working whenever you want, wherever you want... There are so many different models of work that it becomes difficult to define all work contexts. And, this lack of hard lines makes it difficult to employ specific rules and protocols within companies.
According to Lynda Gratton's model, the work model that an individual uses is defined by two axes: where he performs the work (works anywhere, or works in the office) and the use of time (asynchronous, or synchronous). So within this ideology, a hybrid work model is found in the upper left field (anywhere, asynchronous work). The flexible model is at opposite ends (office work, asynchronous or work anywhere, synchronous). And, the fixed work model occupies the lower right field where he works in the office in synchronous time management.
Within these designations, there are other dynamics that must be considered when a team or individual contemplates adopting another work model:
- What is the job and tasks?
- Not all jobs or tasks can be transferred to models that include remote work, or where employees can decide the time. For example, essential workers (supermarkets, hospitals, transporters, etc…) see remote work as impossible.
- What are the individual preferences?
- We are more productive when we work according to our preferences. While many companies are now looking at remote work as the preference, many employees want to go back to the face-to-face model.
- What are the current projects?
- There may be times when working completely remotely or outside of normal hours is not possible. Co-work spaces and workroom rental saw an increase in business, with the gradual transition to the remote work model, where there is still some need to meet with the team, whether for brainstorming, problem solving or teamwork. group.
- Is it fair to others?
- The lack of fairness about who can and cannot take advantage of these alternative work models can lead to a decrease in productivity, burnout, reduced collaboration and will affect the retention of talent who will seek other opportunities.
Fight for Talent – What Do Young Talents Demand Today?
These days it's no longer about who has the best-designed workspace, the most perks, or the sexiest policies. Today the differentiating factor in attracting and retaining talent is “Flexibility”.
The 2020 pandemic was largely responsible for this change, with the “Great Dismissal” movement, where workers left their jobs. And the trend has continued in the professional field. Several studies have pointed to flexibility as the key to movement. In fact, a Dimensional Research study showed that 57% of people consider leaving their company if they have to go back to the office. And, another global study indicated that 54% of workers said they would consider leaving their jobs post-pandemic if they were not given some form of flexibility regarding when and where they work.
In addition, Flexibility also opens up your talent pool by opening the doors to the whole world, and with that allows you to hire people with different views and specialized skills, which will give your company a head start on the competition, will ensure complete productivity ( if someone in Portugal has closed the day, someone in Vancover is starting the day) and will help you to place yourself in new markets.
The new generation of workers was created with technology, being prepared to manage their entire world – whether personal or professional – with their mobile phones. These know that work and learning can be done anywhere. But this generation also experiences firsthand the struggles of keeping personal and professional lives separate. With the innovative technologies that they have always been accustomed to using, it is very easy to use the phone to answer emails or send reports in the middle of a meal with friends or even before going to sleep.
As such, this new generation seeks, more than ever, control over their time and day, being able to decide which time they prefer, in order to plan their professional and personal moments. This control leads to employees feeling happier and more loyal and being more productive.
These factors and studies show that adapting to hybrid work has become a determining factor in attracting new talent and is expected to become standard practice in most organizations in the coming years.
But it's not just flexibility that attracts new talent. New talent is not motivated by the idea of simply working to survive. This generation seeks purpose and pleasure. Generation Z is much more aware of social issues. Topics such as equality, sustainability and the environment are its main causes.
They are also looking for new challenges and opportunities to continuously develop their skills – something that with hybrid and flexible work can happen, either in person or virtually or a combination of both.
And finally, new talents are looking for authenticity in communication, with clear communication channels (whether face-to-face, but especially in hybrid mode) that set the tone for the entire organization.
The Different Work Models
What characteristics define the work models? How do we differentiate them? And what distinguishes them?
Let's analyze 3 models: The Hybrid model, The Flexible model and the Fixed model.
The Hybrid Model
Hybrid work – now more recurrent in our professional life – is a model that supports a mix between working in the office and working remotely. This work model is designed around the worker, promoting inclusiveness, engagement and the well-being of all employees. Your keyword is “choice”. Employees have the possibility to choose how they work.
A Pragmatic Thinking study found that over 77% of people prefer a hybrid work environment. As for the split time model, 53% of people prefer a 2-3 day split between home and office.
This model is becoming the choice for companies like Apple, NOS and Siemens who are experimenting with this hybrid model, with configurations such as 3 days at home, 2 days at the office, or one day at the office for face-to-face meetings and the rest at remote, etc.
4 types of hybrid work policies are identified:
- Hybrid at-will – employees freely choose which days they go to the office.
- Hybrid split-week – the company defines which days are for face-to-face work and which are for remote work, according to the team or function.
- Hybrid manager-scheduling – the manager chooses which days his team goes to the office.
- Hybrid mix – a mix of all other options.
In view of these models, a study by Envoy showed that 56% of companies use the Hybrid model at will. The least used policy (8%) is manager-managed hybrid.
The hybrid model also allows greater flexibility in recruitment processes, opening the door to a world of talent regardless of location (with technological advances and automatic translations, even language limitations are no longer a concern) and by opening up greater flexibility attracts new generations who have developed their professional lives online.
This model is clearly preferred by employees, but what are the real benefits?
- Freedom and flexibility for individuals.
- Builds a relationship of trust with employees, which in turn increases loyalty and job satisfaction,
- Increase talent attraction, retention and adoption
- Decreases office management costs.
- Increases collaboration and team spirit
- Improves the organizational climate
- Increases productivity
For companies, it will also be necessary to think about the adaptations that may be necessary, both in terms of corporate policies and in terms of IT security.
The Flexible Model
Flexible working is an alternative way to organize the time or location of a traditional workday.
Schedule changes may be due to personal reasons. For example, the employee needs to change the time to pick up the child from daycare and asks for the time to be from 7 am to 4 am instead of 9 to 5 am. Or they may be due to professional reasons. For example, the customer is in another part of the world, and to talk to him you need to work in the same time zone as him.
The location can also differ in the same way. Whether you work from home, the office, or a hotel somewhere in the world, flexible working means being open to organizing yourself to work with all these issues.
Other arrangements classified as flexible work are: compressed hours (for example, working a few more hours each day and not working on Friday), part-time work, casual work, job-sharing…
But what makes this work model so attractive for employees and employers? The benefits are clear:
- For employers:
- It increases the ability to attract, retain and motivate talent.
- Reduces absenteeism and presenteeism (working without being productive)
- Increases diversity and inclusiveness
- Decreases office management costs
- And it has a positive impact on the organizational climate.
- For collaborators:
- It helps to balance and manage responsibilities outside of work.
- Increases job satisfaction.
- Brings more energy and creativity
- Decreases stress levels.
- Increases productivity.
The Fixed Model
We call fixed models 100% models - whether 100% face-to-face or 100% online. Like previous models, these 100% models present both benefits and challenges.
We consider regular face-to-face work, such as the traditional work from 9 am to 5 pm (or shift work, the corresponding shift), in which the employee works at the company's office and shows up daily at the location. A 2022 study by PWC in the US showed that 11% of workers prefer to work full-time in the office.
There are numerous benefits to this method, but we highlight 5 that are being felt by those who return to the face-to-face work method:
- Casual collaboration.
- It's very easy, quickly assemble the necessary team to solve problems, or find someone in the elevator who comments on a problem and someone responds with the solution.
- Comprehensive communication.
- The communication tools of the virtual world are undoubtedly efficient and used in face-to-face work, but there is no substitute for brainstorming sessions in which everyone talks naturally and writes or draws on the flipchart. Even elevator or coffee conversations are important in the day-to-day of the office.
- Effective and efficient meetings.
- There are no connection issues, frozen cameras or sound issues in face-to-face meetings or quickly shortening meeting time.
- A focused environment.
- When there is a clear division of spaces between home and work, it becomes easier to focus only on work and not on the untidy kitchen or the papers to organize.
- The path.
- It may seem strange, but the time you spend traveling between home and office can be beneficial. It is during this time that he makes the transition between his home and office environment and puts on his worker persona.
But what about those who prefer the 100% online model? The fixed remote work method is also a favorite among workers. This includes an 8-hour schedule lived remotely – anywhere – online. Companies like Airbnb, Dropbox and Vista are moving to the 100% remote model.
This model has clear benefits:
- Increases productivity
- A 2-year study at Stanford University showed that those who worked remotely had a significant increase in productivity and there was 50% less attrition between employees. 
- Better balance between work and family
- Savings on office space costs
- Attraction of the best talent, even across borders.
The Challenge for Leaders
The transition to new working models poses a challenge for Human Resources leaders, who play a key role in making decisions about which model to adopt or modify. Each model has its specific advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to consider how they align with the organization's needs and goals.
Flexible, hybrid and fixed working models are becoming the norm and companies need to deal with the challenges each of them brings if they are to stay ahead of the competition for talent, productivity and business success.
Finding the right balance between flexibility and structure is essential, providing a work environment that meets everyone's needs. By carefully evaluating the different options and the ever-evolving expectations of employees, HR professionals can identify the value of each model and implement effective changes.
Inês Cabral | Project Manager
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