Following the spike of Covid-19, business operation through a remote and hybrid workspace has become more common. Before the pandemic, only about 6% of employees worked primarily from home. At the height of Covid-19 in May 2020, more than one third of employed people worked remotely. Now employers are starting to utilize hybrid models to create more effective, efficient workplaces. A recent Google study looks at how hybrid work can both benefit challenge some companies based on hybrid worker responses.
Understanding Hybrid Work
What is Hybrid?
Hybrid work can be simply seen as a combination of in-person and remote work. As vice president of Gartner Brian Kropp states, “Hybrid work is not just about different locations, but also different timings and different schedules.” The hybrid model can provide more flexibility than traditional 9 to 5 workdays, as employees can do their job anywhere at any time. A hybrid workplace environment can benefit many organizations: less people in the office at once, lower commute times for employees, satisfaction for workers, among many other attributes. Hybrid is a middle-ground for work options.
Google’s Survey about Hybrid Work
Hybrid sounds like a great solution for businesses: more time at home, less commute, work from anywhere whenever possible. However, Google’s study shows some potential downsides to the hybrid model, as based on responder’s opinions. The survey was completed in October 2021. Google polled a total of 1,244 employees and managers across more than 15 industries in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.
With so much work being done remotely, it is quite reasonable that employees are experiencing burnout and a lack of personability within the workplace. 57% of survey respondents said that they feel disconnected from their organization and co-workers. 62% of respondents from the study think that hybrid and remote work creates limited networking opportunities and negatively impacts career growth. More than half of respondents have limited communications with their coworkers, negatively impacting their mental health.
Although more (virtual) meetings may seem like a solution, Google counters that too many meetings may actually negatively impact the work environment. Almost 70% of respondents believe there are too many virtual meetings. This makes sense, because although virtual meeting platforms make it easier to communicate just like you are in-person, the amount of screen time can make these meetings seem tedious. Google argues that there should be a solution that allows for more spontaneity in virtual workspaces.
Especially when the pandemic first hit, a lot of remote employees were stuck using older desktops and systems that may not be conducive to work. Google’s study says that some places had to make “legacy, office-centric systems” work for a workplace overnight. Some technological concerns included unreliable internet connection, use of slow or outdated systems, file access and saving, and overuse of applications.
Gaps in Management
The lack of face-to-face communication and supervision causes a sense of distrust among workers, according to the Google study. More than 70% of respondents feel that trust between employees needs to be improved. Additionally, 62% of respondents said that limited networking opportunities with co-workers negatively affected career growth.
Working for a Purpose
Google as a company does see value in having employees work in office at least a few times a week. However, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that they should be purposeful with the time that they employees come in. Google wants to “[make] sure group meetings or collaboration, creative collaborative brainstorming or community building, happens then [when people are in office.” A lot of work can be done at home with the proper technology, so Google wants to facilitate a productive work environment when employees actually return to the office.
Google Workspace for Work Flexibility
Based on the results of the study, having some sort of workspace solution is essential for business success. Google is working to bridge the gap between remote and in-person business communication. Formerly known as G Suite, Google Workspace includes tools like Gmail and Google Drive to allow for collaboration among users. Google’s platform offers a variety of features that allow for increased productivity and flexibility in the workplace. To learn more about how to use and optimize Google Workspace for you and your business, visit our Google Workspace Help Zone. Some of Google’s features include:
Gmail makes it easy to send and receive email messages. Organizations can use Gmail’s hosting service to create professional, personalized business accounts for all employees. This makes it easy to have a cohesive email structure for an entire company. Gmail also has useful features such as Confidential Mode to make messages more secure, Schedule Send, Vacation Responder, Smart Compose, and Nudge Alerts.
2. Google Drive
Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets (all located within Google Drive) allow for users to effectively share and collaborate with documents and files. Users can easily work on the same project at the same time without having to be in the same room. Google also allows users to use the chat feature to communicate while working on a project. They can also leave comments that other collaborators can view and adjust their work accordingly.
3. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is a great tool to better organize your organization. With shared calendars, employees can easily schedule internal and external meetings or events. The calendar can also generate reminders prior to scheduled events. This makes it much easier to navigate your business’ schedule and stay organized.
4. Google Meet
There are multiple ways for employees to communicate on Google’s platform: Google Chat, Hangouts, and Meet. Google Meet is completely integrated with Google Workspace and is a great virtual communication tool. Newer features like hand-raising and polls are making Google Meet even more interactive.
Why Use Google Workspace
These digital products are available anytime and anywhere. Since Workspace is a cloud-hosted platform, it is easy to access projects, emails, documents, and more whenever you need. With such flexibility, employees can easily accomplish work from home. Cloud storage also enables for optimal usage, as well as collaboration with ease. Additionally, the system has great security features to ensure that companies can be safe. With extra measures like two-step verification, every log-in can be as secure as possible. Google Workspace is also a cost effective solution for many businesses who wish to host their organization in a remote or hybrid environment. Administrators can also easily govern Google’s system which gives greater control over employee activity. This is beneficial to make sure that a company is being fully productive.
Adopting Hybrid Work Schedules
By creating a virtual space that best attempts to resemble a real-world work environment, people can successfully manage the hybrid model. As per the study results, creating a working hybrid environment is essential for employee and business success. Google shares some tips for employees who work entirely from home or who work with a hybrid schedule. Google also offers a handbook so that users can better understand how to navigate hybrid work. It can be challenging to stay connected with employees in these environments, but Google’s tools make it just a bit easier.
Google as a whole has also taken up hybrid work, serving as a great model for other organizations to follow. By focusing on employees, Google is creating an efficient and a healthy environment that balances work and personal life. They have offered more flexibility with vacation and working location. Employees also take “reset days” for recovery and can work on projects during “focused hours.” Google also redesigned some of its offices for maximum comfort. These features make for a safe and productive work environment.