Half & Half: The pros and cons of hybrid jobs

The commute to work every weekday used to be something of a rite of passage for tens of millions of Americans looking to provide for their families and build up a rewarding career in their chosen field. Of course, that was then and this is now. Just like so much else about society in the wake of COVID-19, the expectation that workers must all be physically present in a building or job site in order to meet assigned goals and project milestones has largely been thrown by the wayside.

It’s hardly a secret that the coronavirus pandemic made it necessary for countless employees to shun physical work locations in favor of working from home. While such measures were initially taken as a safety consideration and universally declared as temporary by high-ranking executives and managers alike at the time, fast forward nearly four years later, and workers all over are determined not to return to the old way of working. 

Recent research conducted earlier this year by Gallup reports 6 in 10 remote employees would be very likely to seek a new job if forced to return to their office Monday through Friday by their current employer. On the other hand, as building leases and maintenance fees continue to pile up, it’s a safe bet to say the vast majority of major employers would like to see most of their workers return to the “pre-COVID” normal of on-site employment. 

In this way, the prospect of a hybrid job offers the best of both worlds for employers and employees alike. Workers get to skip the commute at least a couple of days per week while working from home, but also must report to their office or work space at least a few times weekly as well. Notably, a hybrid working arrangement is actually more attractive to many workers nowadays than entirely remote employment. That same poll found that while a third of people with a remote-capable job would choose a 100% remote job, six in 10 would actually go for a hybrid gig instead. For comparison’s sake, a meager 10 percent of surveyed professionals said they would opt for on-site employment all the time.

Hybrid work theory 

There are a few different varieties of hybrid job offers out there available to applicants, but all of them feature one distinguishing factor: Hybrid employees work from home on some days, and report to a physical work location on others. In certain roles, one’s manager or boss may dictate which days of the week are “remote” and which are expected to be “in-house,” other positions allow the employee themselves to set their own schedule and terms. Meanwhile, some companies choose to divy up hybrid workers’ schedules according to teams or departments. 

The potential benefits of a hybrid position are plain to see. Money saved on commuting expenses, more freedom, and a lower risk of fatigue while working, just to name a few. The ability to choose when and from where one works can be an incredible boon to wellbeing and overall work life balance. While employers used to largely emphasize attendance and efficiency over all else in their workers, today it’s become clear that focusing on productivity and freedom is a far smarter choice all around. Happier, more content employees are always going to be a net positive for any organization.

Convenience is a major factor when it comes to the appeal of hybrid work for employees, but a more open-minded approach to workers’ schedules can also benefit employers by helping to cut costs on expensive office space and promoting a more inclusive work environment for employees with physical disabilities who may find it especially difficult to adhere to a traditional M-F commuting schedule. 

The downsides of hybrid work

It’s not all that difficult to wrap one’s mind around why a hybrid position could be advantageous and desirable, but it’s important to remember even hybrid positions come with their fair share of challenges. The old saying “you can’t have it both ways” comes to mind, which, of course, is precisely what hybrid jobs are all about.

To start, a hybrid work model will make it much tougher for you to form meaningful connections with co-workers, and perhaps more importantly from a career perspective, managers, leaders, and executives. Research tells us that managers tend to see remote workers as more replaceable than on-site employees. 

Hybrid work often turns out to be more stressful than most anticipate. A report from 2022 found 80 percent of hybrid workers call their jobs “exhausting.” Hybrid jobs may help lower feelings of exhaustion and burn out during the workday, but such workers often feel the obligation to answer business calls and emails at all hours of the day and night. Hybrid jobs also make it especially difficult to get into a work rhythm, so to speak, especially if managers or higher-ups dictate which days are spent working from the office.

Finally, it’s much harder for hybrid workers to maintain a real substantive connection with their organization’s culture, and that’s not even mentioning the added intricacies of coordinating schedules, deadlines, and tasks with co-workers who are only seen in person once or twice weekly.

Helping the hybrid work model

Don’t be too discouraged by the potential drawbacks listed above. Hybrid work is a fantastic employment option for countless job seekers, and more than capable of proving quite lucrative for both employees and companies supplying the paychecks.

In order to succeed, a hybrid approach to employment requires workers to place more of an emphasis on being truly present on days when they are in the office. Employers, on the other hand, should do their best to foster a work environment and philosophy that encourages all employees to put their phones down and leave their inboxes alone after 5 PM – regardless of whether they just left the office or just finished putting together a presentation at a coffee shop.

Ready to start exploring hybrid remote positions in your field? Take a look at Ladders’ job search page featuring thousands of high-paying 100K+ positions.