What Is Hybrid Working?
Hybrid working is a revolutionary initiative that 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-wear-based work attire)? A hybrid model allows companies to pick and choose the best of both worlds.
Hybrid working requires a modern, 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). Hybrid working takes the best bits of remote working and home working which, when planned and managed well, can hugely impact the output of a workforce.
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 working, where you can be based entirely outside of an office. A hybrid working model is the blend of office and remote work.
In this guide, we’ll examine the trends in hybrid working, and look at how to establish a successful hybrid team, bridging the gap between remote and office-based work.
Hybrid working is an arrangement where an individual, team or organisation work partly in an office, and partly remote.
Remote Working vs. Hybrid Working
According to YouGov surveys and CIPD research, in the post-pandemic world, the majority of 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 employers. From downsizing of office space to reduced general overheads, this opens up opportunities for investment of cash elsewhere, like in new talent and innovative business. Less money spent on rent, utilities, furniture and cleaning means more capital for growth.
For employers, flexible teams = 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 that so often end up in people job hunting, for example, a change in location or an inability to balance work and home, are removed and 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 pool of talent 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.
How To Make Hybrid Working Successful
To achieve successful hybrid working, expectation setting, workspace considerations and clear boundaries are crucial. Sharing detailed policies on both remote working and flexible working and making sure 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 taking into account how to make new policies accessible and feasible. This includes flexibility as to where and when work happens, but also 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.
Hybrid Office Space
A hybrid workforce looks like a pool of talent working remotely, with an in-person office as the face of the business. It focuses on employee 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 to hot desk, have 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 year.
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.
How To Create a Hybrid Workplace
- 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.
Want to discuss how your business can embrace hybrid working? Book a workspace strategy consultation.