6 Benefits of a Hybrid Work Model for Startups
In March 2020, millions of people worldwide shifted from working full-time at the office to working full-time from home. And although many would agree that the first few months were challenging for a variety of reasons, now almost 2.5 years later this mindset has largely changed.
With new workflows and routines in place, the majority of from-home workers do not want to return to the office, at least not full-time. The Harvard Business School surveyed 1,500 people who worked from home between 2020 and 2021 and found that 61 percent wanted to continue working from home 2-3 days per week.
Many professionals have embraced the benefits that working from home can offer such as greater flexibility, no time lost to commuting, and cost savings, but at the same time see value in returning to the office on a part-time basis so the advantages of a workplace environment are not lost.
But when you’re an entrepreneur trying to take your company to the next level, how can this arrangement work?
What makes a great work environment?
What are the benefits of a hybrid work model for startups?
How do you adopt a hybrid setup as an entrepreneur?
Let’s first review what a hybrid work model is and the different forms it can take.
What is a hybrid work model?
A hybrid work model is all about flexibility, supporting workers’ productivity, happiness, and well-being rather than focusing on their working location. This is typically a combination of working from home, the office, or on the go.
How many workplaces have adopted a hybrid work model?
In an April 2022 survey of 800 workplace leaders from around the world, 77 percent adopted a hybrid working model with an “At-will Model” being the most popular.
What exactly is an At-will Model? It is one of four main hybrid work models that are commonly used in workplaces where a hybrid setup exists.
What are the different types of hybrid work models?
This model gives people autonomy to choose work environments that best support their productivity and lifestyle. The environment where they choose to work can vary from day to day depending on their schedule and the type of project they are working on.
For example, some work weeks may require more meetings than others. During these weeks workers may choose to work from the office more often as in-person brainstorming and collaboration is often richer than on virtual platforms.
In contrast, if a person needs to focus on a solitary project and feels being surrounded by people at the office is a distraction, there may be a week where they only work from home.
The core of an At-will Model is not confining people to work in a certain environment but rather embracing what works best for them.
The Split-week Model offers flexibility but within particular parameters. Workers split their week between working from home 2-3 days a week and working onsite on the remaining days.
This model within a larger company is often done by assigning certain departments days of the week they will work from home and which days they will come into the office.
Split-week models ensure that team members are connecting regularly and managers can check in with people face-to-face.
Shift Work Model
People work in shifts every day, alternating between working from home half of the day and working on site for the other half. Generally, this model is not ideal as it breaks up the working day forcing people to relocate to a new work environment.
The last model has teams alternating between working from home and working onsite on a weekly basis usually as a collective, meaning everyone follows the same schedule.
This setup can be powerful as everyone works off-site at the same time to focus on individual projects, and then best utilizes in-person time as a team the following week with meetings, brainstorming, and project updates.
Why is a hybrid work model beneficial for startups?
Depending on what stage you are with your startup, you may have a tiny team of 1-2 people or you may be at a point where you have a team that has grown.
Whether you are in the beginning stages or have been growing your company for a while, teamwork, brainstorming, innovative ideas, and collaborative efforts are crucial to a startup’s success so the idea of implementing a hybrid work model may not seem like a good idea at this point in time.
However, there are many benefits to a hybrid work model that will not only benefit your team, but will also benefit you as a startup owner, and ultimately it will benefit your business.
6 Benefits of a Hybrid Model for Startups:
1. Increased Productivity
Every person within a company is different with varied strengths, weaknesses, and the type of environment in which they thrive.
As a startup business owner, you can recognize which team members work best in quiet, focused atmospheres, and which ones excel in high-paced, high-energy environments.
The beauty of a hybrid model is it brings out the very best in every person — those who love collaboration and the social aspect of the workplace can produce their very best work by coming into the office while having the option to work remotely if needed. In contrast, team members who work best on projects in their own space can work from home with the ability to come onsite if needed.
The main message is maximizing productivity is extremely important, and by coming up with a hybrid work model that best suits your company you can maximize your efforts.
2. Increased Work Satisfaction
Enabling both you and your team to be the best you can be through work environment flexibility will naturally lead to greater work satisfaction.
In a survey of 1,000 UK-based employees, 65 percent of people that were able to follow an At-will Hybrid Model were satisfied with their jobs, while only 53 percent working onsite exclusively and 57 percent working from home exclusively were satisfied.
Having your team feel accomplished, productive, and important to the company is something that is invaluable to a startup as it motivates and drives your team to achieve the next big goal or next phase of growth.
3. Improved Mental Health
Prioritizing the mental health of you and your team makes everyone feel appreciated and valued. When you or a team member is stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed it can lead to serious health concerns and is toxic for your startup.
Following a hybrid work model provides flexibility for both you and your staff to take mental breaks when needed, participate in physical activity, and work in a place that is conducive to feeling little stress.
As an example, many people find that taking a walk, doing yoga, or participating in another physical activity as part of their daily routine helps them feel relaxed and more focused when they return to work. With a hybrid work model, they can enjoy these activities and return to working as a better version of themselves.
Work environments can be a significant mental health trigger and some find that working from home is less stressful whereas for others it is the opposite.
4. Better Work-life balance
Let’s face it, life can get busy when we add in work, families, and other responsibilities. When business owners consider their employees’ challenges and personal interests outside of the company, it makes everyone feel happier and less stressed about juggling so much at once.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, many people have enjoyed working from home as it has allowed more time spent with families and enjoying hobbies due to eliminated commuting time. Adopting a hybrid work model is a great way for both you and your team to maintain a healthy work-life balance by being less focused on where someone must work. Working from home most days may remove a lot from some people’s plates, while working from the office may do the same for others.
Another consideration is to loosen the structure around working hours if it is feasible for your company. Some people perform much better in the earlier half of the day while others perform better in the evening. Allowing flexible work hours would allow your team to be most productive in their chosen working hours and take care of personal matters in their not-as-productive hours.
5. Meaningful Company Culture
You may think that not having all team members in the office together full-time could hurt your startup’s culture – but the opposite can actually be true.
Supporting the needs and preferred work environments of you and your team becomes a major contributor to your company’s culture and what you value as an organization. It sends the message that you value people, your time, and overall the well-being and happiness of those around you.
Having this culture is a great way to attract great talent to your team as hybrid work models are something more and more professionals are looking for. This will help greatly in your recruitment processes throughout your startup’s growth.
6. Save Money
Depending on the size of your startup and your team, following a hybrid model may allow you to not have the expense of a designated office, at least during the beginning stages of your company’s growth.
You may ask how a hybrid work model is possible if you do not have a physical workspace, but there are alternative options that allow you and your team to work in-person.
You can arrange to meet as a team once or twice a week for meetings, updates and brainstorming sessions by reserving a private table at a coffee shop or restaurant. Buying your team coffees or lunch once a week will be nothing compared to the overhead costs of running an office.
How do you adopt a hybrid work model as a startup?
Do you love the idea of following a hybrid work model but you’re not quite sure where to start or what you need to do to make it happen? Here is a list of things you should consider to make sure your hybrid setup is well thought out and successful for your business.
1. Requirements from your team
Does your team have what they need to work efficiently from home? Do they have the correct technology or software? Make sure that both you and your team can work as effectively from home as they could at the office.
2. Communication strategies
Because you may have all team members working remotely some days, and other days a mix, having solid communication strategies in place will be instrumental in achieving an effective hybrid work model.
When everyone is physically together, it is easy to quickly speak to each other about projects, but when you are remote these unplanned conversations need to translate to digital platforms.
3. Create effective workflows and processes
Whether a team member is working on the go, at the office, or working from home, the same workflow and processes for your team should apply. A person who typically prefers working onsite but one day needs to work remotely should not disrupt any projects or deadlines.
A hybrid model is dependent on having clear workflows established so the team is efficient and nothing falls between the cracks.
4. Joining a startup incubator
Joining a startup incubator is a great way to work within a collaborative workspace while having the option to have a hybrid work model. In addition to an inspiring workspace, startup incubators provide mentorship and support when working at home.
Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas offers a startup incubator program located 1.5 hours from Toronto, Ontario that supports entrepreneurs to launch and grow their companies from their workspace, virtually, or by following a hybrid work model.
Contact the Innovation Cluster to learn more!