The hybrid workspace model is a work environment that incorporates elements of both remote and in-office work. Some or all employees in a typical hybrid workplace can choose where and when they work, dividing their time between working from home and working in a central office.
A hybrid working model allows a company to have offices where a portion of its workforce routinely attends, while the rest works remotely or from home. This is in contrast to a remote working approach, in which no physical premises are used, and all employees work from home.
The specifics of how a hybrid workplace works vary in every organization, but it could contain a few permanent staff or numerous teams that rotate in and out every couple of weeks. Employees may attend regular face-to-face meetings in a hybrid workplace, which is virtually remote. It could also be virtually exclusively based in the office, with only a few individuals or teams working remotely.
Pros and cons of a hybrid workplace model
Over the last year, employee priorities have shifted. Businesses have been forced to reassess what it means to have a physical office since the COVID-19 outbreak upended the way we work. Some of us are hesitant to return to work, while others are eager to go back. Most people think that the traditional 9-to-5 workday is a thing of the past and that a more flexible approach is required.
The past year has demonstrated that we have the tools, software, and talents to work efficiently from anywhere, but it has also underlined the drawbacks of working remotely. Employees may feel alone or unappreciated. Their home technology setup may be insufficient, or their workstation may be tight or distracting.
The lessons learned during this forced working from home will shape the gradual return to the office. Employees desire the freedom to work when and where they want. They want to spend less time commuting and more time with their families and friends. They also want to see their coworkers in person and collaborate on common goals in a physical venue other than their hastily adapted dining table.
These considerations have resulted in the hybrid workplace, which is a mix of remote and office work that tries to detach the company from its physical headquarters while allowing people to work there if they so desire.
Even before the crisis, people began to place a higher emphasis on job flexibility. For nine out of ten millennials, the ability to choose where and when they work is more significant than a higher wage. This shows a shift in how we think about work and where it is done, but the trend reverses when younger employees are polled.
It won’t be long before Generation Z becomes the majority of the workforce. In a 2020 Salesforce study, this demographic expressed a rising desire to split their working time between home and the office rather than working entirely from home. The office is more valuable to a person who is just starting in their profession, not less. It’s regarded as a gathering spot for people to mingle, network, and collaborate.
Several causes can be attributed to this inclination toward the mixed workplace and away from entirely remote working. On average, we’re all better equipped to work from anywhere with a power outlet and a decent Wi-Fi connection. Collaboration has become possible and reliable over long distances thanks to cloud-based applications. We’re also paying more attention to our work-life balance, tailoring our working schedules to fit around our personal lives rather than vice versa.
The pandemic expedited an existing trend, demonstrating the viability of a distributed workforce, but it also exposed some of the drawbacks of a strictly remote working style. The advantages of flexible working coexist with the benefits of having a physical headquarters in a hybrid workplace. Employees, particularly those who are just getting started, want the best of both worlds.
How to implement a hybrid workplace model
Transitioning to a hybrid workplace necessitates rewiring your company’s processes from the ground up, ensuring that they work regardless of location. It’s one of the most challenging tasks a company may face, and how you tackle it depends on the size and nature of your company.
Examine how firms similar to yours have transitioned to a hybrid or remote work environment, and pay attention to the lessons learned and the blunders made along the way. Here are some general ideas to keep in mind while you plan.
Ask employees what they want
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that all employees desire the same thing. People’s priorities vary, thus creating a successful hybrid workplace requires input from employees from all company areas. Respond to your team’s responses by conducting a survey. Make yourself available to hear their problems and be realistic about the types of adjustments you can make to the workplace.
Offer options, but not too many
Give employees a choice of two or three ways to work at your company: one where they spend most of their time in the office, one where they spend most of their time working from home, and one that is somewhere in the middle. Allow people to change their minds but attempt to discourage them from doing so frequently. This way, you can plan and know exactly where everyone will be at any given time, allowing you to manage resources better.
The same tech that enables remote working also powers a well-functioning hybrid workplace. To level, the playing field between individuals who work remotely and in the office, use cloud-based productivity software and videoconferencing technologies.
Ascertain that everyone has access to the remote-working hardware they require. Identify any daily duties that can only be accomplished at the workplace, think about why this is, and then explore other options. When a worker is not at work, they should achieve their job just as well. A worker in the ideal hybrid workplace should be able to do their duties even if the office evaporates into thin air overnight.
They should also have access to whatever resources and information they require to be successful, so make these resources and information readily available. From a client meeting to a casual conversation in the hallway, every detail should be documented so that every employee is up to date and on the same page.
Maintain your company’s culture
Culture is a difficult concept to define. A corporation can have a corporate philosophy or a set of guiding beliefs, but a workplace’s culture emerges naturally from employee interactions. Keep remote workers connected to the social side of the office via casual online meetups and virtual town halls so they don’t miss out on those all-important watercooler moments.
Make sure that your remote employees feel like they’re getting the whole employee experience. Examine perks to ensure they aren’t solely beneficial to people that come to work. If employees have unlimited coffee and snacks in the cafeteria, you may give remote workers a free coffee subscription or free meal kits.
It’s a huge task to transfer in-person culture to a remote or hybrid environment, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Begin by determining your company’s values, writing them down, and then reinforcing them through every channel available.
Make your job listings remote
How you acquire new employees is the true test of a hybrid workplace. Make job listings as location-independent as possible. Develop a new interview and recruiting process that supports applicants regardless of how far they are from the office and provides them with the resources and chances they need to get to and from meetings and social activities.
Create a socially distanced office layout
You can more readily implement a layout designed for employee safety with fewer workers in the office. Because it’s unknown how long the social distancing requirements will endure, take advantage of the chance to de-clutter the office and develop shared coworking areas. Create plenty of personal space between workstations and one-way mechanisms to guide personnel around the building safely.
Don’t overlook who you can’t see
Because remote workers are less visible than in-office workers, they are more likely to be ignored for promotions and other chances. Be aware of your natural prejudice and take steps to ensure that your decisions are fair and equitable.
Train managers to support and integrate remote workers and adjust your recruitment processes to provide a fair playing field so that remote employees aren’t put at a disadvantage simply because they aren’t in the room.
If there is a silver lining in 2021, the epidemic has allowed us to re-imagine the workplace and its potential. However, the hybrid workplace must be well-planned and performed to be effective rather than seen as a new experiment. While the hybrid workplace may appear to be a solution to a short-term issue, it is a solution for the future of work. It’s all about structuring and balancing work, safety, communication, and mental health. The pandemic will come to an end at some point. When that happens, the workplace will be a happier, healthier, and more productive environment than it was previously.