Hybrid Workplace

What Is The Hybrid Workplace Model? The Ultimate Guide

What is the hybrid workplace model? If you're thinking about implementing hybrid work into your business, here's what you need to know about its benefits, challenges, and how to streamline it for the best employee experience.

Anja Simic
Written by Anja Simic
September 27, 2021
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Some dilemmas are much easier to solve than the one that has grabbed the entire world’s attention - remote work (or working from home) or working from the office. Employees don’t want to choose, they want to have the best of both worlds- and so do the companies!

Luckily, unlike with other dilemmas we mentioned, it is entirely possible. The open space concept has dominated the market for so long, the home office was necessary during the pandemic, but the post-pandemic business world is thrilled with this new way of working, that allows flexibility and personalization - the hybrid workplace model.

If you aren’t sure what your ideal work environment is, and how to make the shift from remote work to the office as smooth as possible, let us explain to you the hybrid work model so you can decide for yourself whether or not you should apply it and how to do it efficiently.

Every change in the world is reflected in the business, and the companies that go with the flow, that listen to the needs of their employees, and that aren’t afraid of trying something new, even if it feels risky, definitely won’t have to worry about their share of the market.

What is the hybrid workplace model?

Both ways of working that have been present for decades have their pros and cons. Working in the office encourages bonding, allows for fast information flow, and is great for meeting clients’ expectations. Remote work encourages a greater work-life balance, increases the company’s talent pool, as well as diversity and inclusion, and it is proven to also benefit productivity.

Well, the hybrid workplace model aims to combine all of that by allowing employees to pick and choose how and where they would like to work. And to keep changing their mind, if that is what they prefer. What do we mean by it?

Well, a hybrid work model means that you have some people always in the office space while others permanently work remotely. Alternatively, you can have people working remotely only on certain days of the workweek. Those days can change weekly, daily, or never change at all. You can have only five people in the office, while 500 work remotely, or vice versa. Hybrid allows for all of that and more!

Does it sound complicated? A bit, we admit that. The hybrid workplace is an umbrella term that covers any modus operandi that isn’t strictly either-or and it represents a unique combination of both options. This allows for employees, and thus for the company, to maximize their potential and be as productive, efficient, and satisfied as it can possibly be.

Advantages of hybrid workplace model

There is no doubt about it, and many surveys confirm it - hybrid workspace is the future of work. Simply put, it’s what employees want, and who can blame them? This way of working allows them to fully enjoy everything they love about both office and remote work. It is stacked with benefits, and here are the most important ones.

Improvement of employee experience

Perhaps the most important benefit of the hybrid workplace is that it is good for employees. We already know that everything that improves the employee experience, in the long run, improves the company’s results as well. Flexible work is the most sought out benefit of the post-pandemic world, in times of great insecurities employees wanted to know that their companies, as well as them, won’t be set in their own ways and will be capable to adapt, innovate, adjust and improve.

A hybrid workspace allows for a better work-life balance, which is very important for those working full-time. Remote workers, especially the ones with children, pets, and demanding hobbies, can organize their workweek around their tasks and obligations, making sure they are happy and fulfilled in all of their roles.

Office work allows them to feel connected to the company and to their co-workers, and still in the center of it all, while remote working saves them time and lets them enjoy more their private lives and interests. All of this leads to much happier employees, higher retention rates, and improved employee engagement,  which should be the goal of any company.

And if that is not enough, you might be interested to learn that a hybrid workspace also improves employee productivity. Now, that is a metric you will definitely care about!

A hybrid workplace saves money - for employees and employers

Everyone knows that permanently working remotely saves a lot of money for employees - less commuting, eating out, and dressing up all lead to more money at the end of the month. Hybrid workspace has the same, only slightly diminished, effect. The same goes for companies - switching to hybrid means reducing office costs, by a lot. Real estate rent, utilities, office supplies, as well as various benefits tied to the office space, such as coffee and snacks. You only need to make sure that your office space is big enough to respect the rules of social distancing.

You can redirect these savings into programs that will help you increase employee experience, such as training and development, equipment and software, perks and benefits, etc. This unexpected budget relief can also allow you to hire top talent, or increase the salaries of the talents you’ve already obtained.

Hybrid workspace promotes digital transformation

If this last year has shown as anything it’s that the ones that don’t adapt aren’t going to thrive. And digital transformation is at the center of it all. If some employees of yours are working in an office, while others may be located all over the world, that means that you need to rely on technology - virtual conference rooms, collaboration tools, and more.

All of the processes, tasks, and communication need to be digitalized, easy to use, and difficult to lose. This might seem like a daunting task, but its implications will be mesmerizing. Not only will your entire company run way faster, but you will make your customers happy and your competition miserable. Thanks to the challenges brought on by the past year, you will wound up being more profitable than ever, if you are only willing to adapt.

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Challenges of the hybrid workplace model

Although there are significant benefits to it, no workplace model is completely challenge-free. All of these obstacles can be resolved if you are determining to make the hybrid workplace your reality. However, it is better to know what you are up against, and how can you overcome it.

Your client experience will temporarily degrade

During the transition to a hybrid workspace model, there will surely be a lot of hiccups. It would be naive to think that you would find the combination that works best for everyone in your company on the first try.

This inevitably means a lot of schedule changes, lack of structure, and potential conflicts with goals and possibilities. In the end, those who will suffer the most will be your clients. From virtual meeting rooms to rescheduled calls, or even account manager changes, there will be some issues and you should brace yourself for slightly negative reviews. However, this is only temporary! Once you get your bearings, you will be able to give your clients the attention they deserve.

Equality amongst the employees may be challenged

Some employees are always onsite, some work from nature and their living rooms, some combine and frequently change their workspace… And all of them should have access to the same opportunities and information, have the same level of attention from their superiors and contribute equally. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to achieve if you choose to adopt the hybrid working model.

The best way to prevent this, or to tackle it when it does happen is to raise awareness, especially amongst the top management of the company. No employee, regardless of their status and choices, should be allowed to have an upper hand. Just because office employees see each other more often that doesn’t mean they should have a bigger influence or be more involved in the company matter.

Culture plays a key factor here, so although there are no chats by the water cooler for everyone, the rest will remain the same. One of the best ways to assure this is to create work policies that will reflect this kind of mindset and incorporate activities that will promote it.

Remote work can easily lead to burnout

Working in a remote office allows you to finally strike that work-life balance you've always wanted, but if you're not careful, there's a trap you may fall in. It's just as easy to completely burn out if you're working from home or a flexible workspace, since you may not always have clearly structured working hours. It's also challenging to find a way to end your workday properly - how do you manage to do that if your office is actually in your bedroom?

There's also the infamous Zoom fatigue - video conferencing can sometimes be even more tiring than having meetings in person.

Flexibility often lacks structure

There is no way to get all of the good sides of a certain workplace model, without getting the bad sides as well, and this new and popular work arrangement is not the exception. If you offer flexibility to your employees, you have to be ready for consequences in terms of deadline meetings, scheduling, information flow, etc.

Implementing strict structure, rules and procedures won’t work in situations where everyone chooses their own way of working. The only thing you can do is decide what are the most important regulations, deadlines and agreements and work your hybrid model around them. Workflow can be changed, but the quality of the outcome should never be decreased.

How to streamline the transition to a successful hybrid workplace

If you’ve decided to implement a hybrid workplace model, you should keep in mind what is your ultimate goal and what will be the benefits, because this change won’t be an easy one.

Before you do anything, you should consult your employees first. Getting their input before you start changing anything will be crucial to the success of your plan. They will tell you all you need to know and, in turn, they will feel like they contributed, and they will be more than ready to get along with the plan. It's true that many companies confirm that their overall employee satisfaction has increased since they embraced the hybrid work environment, but it's not a rule set in stone - every team is different.

Once you’ve figured out what your employees want, it’s time to turn that into a reality. Your second step in this transition should be your IT department or even someone externally. Their role would be to help you set everything up, for remote employees as well as the ones working onsite. Use technology as your ally, don’t overcomplicate it, and focus on getting everyone to implement it.

This brings us to the third, and crucial point in your transition - culture. How everyone will behave, how long the transition will last, how much you'll take advantage of the benefits… All of this will depend on how each and every employee accepts the changes, and that will only depend on the company culture. Team members should feel supported by their leads, remote teams should never feel forgotten and your distributed workforce should function like a well-oiled machine.

If you want to make sure your company not only stays afloat but thrives, you need to keep up with the latest trends in the business and use them to your advantage. Smooth the transition to the hybrid workspace by implementing these pieces of advice and feel the pulse of your employees every step of the way.

‍Embracing the future

The way people work started changing even in the pre-pandemic times. The pandemic seems to only have accelerated the process and now we all have the same task in front of us. What's it going to be? Remote-first? Back to the office? Or choosing the best of both worlds and going for the hybrid workforce?

Include both benefits and challenges in your decision-making process and take your employees' feedback into account when determining what type of work model will be the most suitable for your business. If you opt for becoming a remote company or you decide to implement the hybrid work model, check out the following suggestions for further reading that can help you lead your team through the change with success:

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