Hybrid working is redefining office culture and the work-life balance. Fast-tracked by the pandemic, a hybrid working model combines remote, semi-remote and traditional office working.
What if we could have everything we miss about the office (social connections, effective collaboration, reliable internet connection, too many birthday cakes) and combine it with the benefits of remote working (minimal distractions, comfort-based work attire)? A hybrid model allows companies to pick and choose the best of both worlds.
So, what does hybrid working mean? This working model takes the best bits of remote working and home working, which, when planned and managed well, can hugely impact the output of a workforce. Hybrid working requires a safe office designed with its workers and their output in mind, with measures in place to help workers stay happy and healthy (and, as a result, work better).
To avoid any confusion between buzz words, flexible working is an approach that supports employees and their needs. Remote working is a form of flexible work where you can be based entirely outside an office. A hybrid working model is a blend of office and remote work.
In this guide, we’ll examine what hybrid working means, the trends in hybrid working in the UK, and look at how to establish a successful hybrid team, bridging the gap between remote and office-based work.
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that flexible working is here to stay. The pandemic has impacted how we think about work, especially where we work.
Rather than being a place teams have to go to every day, the office is now seen more as a place to collaborate, socialise, be creative, and offer a dedicated workspace away from home for people who don’t have a good set-up.
The solution may be ‘hybrid working’, a term describing splitting time between the office and remote work. It isn’t a completely new model, but it’s been accelerated by the pandemic and the acknowledgement that some types of work can be done just as successfully from home.
A hybrid working model allows employees to work flexibly without sacrificing the opportunity for teams to collaborate and socialise. For many, hybrid working offers the best of both worlds. In fact, we’ve seen many of our members adopt it, using their offices 3 days a week on average. To tap into hybrid working, many businesses are turning to more flexible workspace solutions, such as coworking or managed offices, instead of inflexible long-term leases.
In what’s still a changing world of work, the best thing about hybrid working is its flexibility. There are many different approaches: for some businesses, it might be mandatory for employees to come in 3 set days each week, while others will make it entirely employee-led. It’s all about deciding what’s best for you, your business, and your team.
Hybrid working doesn’t mean your employees are working fewer hours. It just means fewer hours are spent in the office. The rest of the working week is spent working from home or remotely.
This can be adapted to suit your company, but if it’s not something you’ve explored before, it’s worth reading up on other approaches. Here are some examples of what a hybrid model could look like.
According to YouGov surveys and CIPD research, in the post-pandemic world, the majority of UK workers want to continue working from home at least some of the time. This means a shift for employers as to where and how to create a base for their teams.
There are a number of benefits of hybrid working for UK employers. From downsizing of office space to reduced general overheads, this opens up opportunities for investment of cash elsewhere, this could be in new talent and business innovation. Less money spent on rent, utilities, furniture and cleaning can mean more capital for growth.
For employers, flexible teams are happy teams, and happy teams mean increased staff retention, higher levels of productivity and a more engaged workforce.
Employees that have a good work-life balance are happier, healthier, and will inevitably have a more positive impact in their role. Challenges often result in job hunting, such as a change in location or an inability to balance work and home, are removed. Your employees can change and grow with your workspaces adapting around them.
Plus with a hybrid model, centralised technology means your workers could, in theory, be anywhere in the world in any time zone. Suddenly, you have the potential of a global workforce in different markets to grow your business, with a centralised base that stands as the visual headquarters and collaborative hub for your operation. Employers also have access to a talent pool with specialised skills, saving time and resources usually spent on training.
According to a 2021 Microsoft report, 73% of employees surveyed expressed a desire for flexible remote work options post-pandemic, and 66% of businesses said they were considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments. So it’s clear – hybrid working models are definitely worth considering.
Now you know what hybrid working is, you may be on board for a hybrid working strategy… now what? With so many different approaches, it’s important to think through your strategy before launching into it. As a starting point:
Expectations, workspace considerations, and clear boundaries are crucial to achieving successful hybrid working. Sharing detailed policies on remote and flexible working and ensuring staff teams are on board with these is the first step towards a hybrid utopia.
Flexible working can apply to both remote and hybrid initiatives, with time spent considering how to make new policies accessible and feasible. This includes flexibility regarding where and when work happens and how. It relies on a culture of trust, transparency, regular communication and aligned expectations to work to its full advantage.
One of the most important aspects of successful hybrid working is the workspace itself.
A hybrid workforce looks like a pool of talent working remotely, with an in-person office as the hub of the business. It focuses on team member experience, with networks and communication at its heart, but with flexible delivery. So, a physical space needs to be designed around changing employee needs, with options for a co-working space, set office space and flexibility of use.
A great office space for hybrid working will include technology to make sure your team feel seen and listened to, making use of your physical space for in-person meetings and collaboration, rather than non-stop Zoom meetings. Another hybrid working trend is putting safety first, so make sure your spaces are well-designed and easy to use and can create an oasis away from hectic home life.
In a time of hybrid working, physical offices need to act as a hub to bridge the gap between digital and in-person work. There’s an opportunity for offices to have a new role in people’s lives, offering fulfilment as a workspace but also as a place for professional and personal relationships to thrive, to top up the interaction we’ve missed out on in the past two years.
Hybrid working will impact work schedules, but also shape the look, feel and functionality of office spaces. They are likely to become more collaborative and more flexible. Businesses ideally need an HQ office where their team can meet, socialise and work together, so spaces that promote conversation and encourage agile working will be most valuable.
Lead from the front
From making use of flexible working policies to establishing boundaries between home and work, those in leadership roles must set a strong example for staff teams.
Invest in your surroundings
The physical office needs to be a place where people want to work, which means light, space, style and options for quiet, collaborative and social working spaces.
Networking is still fundamental
With hybrid working meaning less time spent in the office, it’s easy to forget the important role of networking. Creating opportunities to connect with others in the company and industry is key to keeping employees engaged.
Use the office as a social hub
The shared knowledge, behaviours and skills of a team result in productive, collaborative working. The decline in social interaction since the pandemic should be counteracted with quality social time and support to rebuild connections.
Create flexible policies
As your employees’ personal and work lives change, how, where and when they work should be able to keep up. Checking in with teams and listening to what they need, with agile policies to support this, is key.
As remote working has become the norm over the last year, businesses have adjusted policies that will again need to be reassessed for hybrid work. This new model opens up a huge opportunity to reduce overheads and create a happy, healthy workplace.