The Dawn of a New Era: Embracing the Hybrid Model
As summer arrives and restrictions continue to loosen, fitness studios and gyms are seeing familiar faces return, tickets to live shows are selling out, and many people who were previously required to work from home (WFH) are resuming their old commutes - at least in part.Interestingly, many of these activities will be more or less optional as we enter the new age of the digital hybrid lifestyle.
For those who had the option to WFH, the past year of remote work has forever changed our view on office time and commutes. Many who never thought they’d be working from home (personal trainers, e.g.) had to get creative and now have more options for locations, as well.
Moving forward, I will do my very best to avoid being on a packed train 80 minutes a day.
Many of us have found increased efficiencies, more family time in the evenings, and a love/hate relationship with video calls. But even with the aid of Zoom, Slack and Google Hangouts to keep us connected, we find something very valuable is still missing: the in-person connection.
At Feed Media Group, we’re adopting a hybrid workplace model: some people will work from home 100% of the time, while some will split their time between home and the office. Additionally, everyone based in the Bay Area will be spending a day or two each month in the office together for collaborative work sessions.
While it isn’t necessary to be in the same room to solve a complex problem, there is no doubt that a lot of value is derived from live collaboration. It’s just easier to brainstorm together with a whiteboard and, to be honest, we all miss working side by side.
And, most experts agree that 70-90% of communication between people is nonverbal. We may pick up some of that on Zoom, but there’s definitely a lot that is lost.
Exactly when our in-person sessions begin is still to be determined and participation will be voluntary for the foreseeable future, but the team is excited about the potential to reconnect.
Of course, we’re not the only ones who are optimistic about the hybrid model.
According to a recent survey conducted by SurveyMonkey, two-thirds (65%) of workers who have been working from home this year say their ideal choice for a future work setup is one in which they could work both from home and from the office, and they’re evenly split between 33% preferring to work mostly from the office and 32% preferring to work mostly from home.
Personally, I am equipped to work out completely from home, but I’m adding a couple of in-person fitness classes each month to re-engage with my community. I love my solo early morning workouts in the home gym, but I’ve also always enjoyed pushing a little harder in a group setting.
Jessica Barker, a dear friend and personal trainer in San Francisco, has seen a major shift in her clients’ mindset around in-person training and thinks it will stick even as things open back up.
“I do find that a few of my clients that used the gym for a major part of their social interactions certainly miss that aspect,” Jessica said. “Those that have been working out with me online and on their own have actually been better focused on their training because they aren’t distracted by their buddies. A few people are going back to classes but most will continue to workout at home at least 50%.”
Jessica left her previous job as a trainer and manager at a brick-and-mortar studio and took her business completely virtual during the pandemic. She finds her clients are staying more consistent than ever and getting amazing results since a lot of the barriers to entry have been eliminated - transportation, booking an appointment, and child care to name a few. They also get more access to her than when they only had an hour a week together at the gym.
After a year of canceled events and moderately successful virtual conferences, most people I talk to are interested in networking in person again at some point. The vast majority of the value in trade shows and conferences has always been the connection to people rather than the presentations.
What I am hearing, though, is that people will be very selective about what events they make the effort to travel for. The consensus seems to be that fewer, smaller, higher quality in-person events is what everyone is craving.
Jessica was recently reminded how productive meetups can be when she attended a fitness industry event in Southern California. She said everyone was thrilled to see one another and excited to “talk turkey.”
"I had such a great time at the conference and was able to connect with others in a way that you just can’t over Zoom,” Jessica told us. “The ability to socialize and bounce ideas off my colleagues had a huge impact on my motivation and certainly gave me a push to keep moving forward with my business. I made lasting connections and am putting together an online cohort to keep the connections going.”
As we reflect back on the last 18 months, we have an opportunity to keep the positive changes we made in place and endeavor to make the best of both the virtual convenience and physical connections we appreciate.
I’m excited to continue to evolve our working model at Feed Media Group, cautiously venture back into the fitness studio, and enjoy a glass of wine with a new connection at an event.
Keep the Conversation Going!
Tell us what the new digital hybrid lifestyle means to you. Have your work and fitness routines changed for good?
Drop a comment below.