Is the Future of Work Going to be Hybrid?

With remote work being the unexpected norm for 2020, many companies have gone the fully remote route at least for the next year. Despite the perks remote working offers, employees miss the camaraderie of the workplace and the convenience of the office. So how can businesses adapt to these changing circumstances where some employees prefer working from home, and others don’t?

The answer lies in a compromise. Hybrid working has been referred to as the future of work. But what is hybrid working? What are its pros and cons, and how can businesses adopt this style of working?

This article discusses hybrid working in detail so you can make the right choice for your employees and your business.

What is a Hybrid Office?

Put simply, a Hybrid Office is an arrangement where employees split their time between working remotely and working in the office. For example, a hybrid workplace can have an arrangement of 2 core office days and 3 remote-working days. This way, workers will be expected to come to the office for meetings and collaboration and also have time to work on projects independently at home. With equal structure and flexibility, it is the best of both worlds for the organisation as a whole. 

Most workers miss social interaction the most. A Hybrid Office facilitates (socially distanced) interactions between team members while saving cost to the company by reducing office footprint. Additionally, it also aims to save commute time and provide a better work-life balance for employees. 

What will a Hybrid Office look like?

Traditionally, work has always been defined majorly by the location it is performed in. However, COVID-19 has put a significant twist on what we consider to be the workplace. Research shows that knowledge workers are more productive when they work from home. This has pushed a lot of high-profile companies to consider the hybrid approach, if not the fully remote one. 

Work patterns evolve, and so it only makes sense for the physical office space to follow suit. So if the office is no longer a primary workspace, what is it for? The answer is that it becomes a place for collaboration, teamwork and meetings. A Hybrid Office will see a lot more break-out spaces designed for collaboration, rather than traditional office setups with office desks and cubes. 

Companies like HubSpot and Figma that have adopted this approach to working speak of it very highly. Should Hybrid working be successful for major companies, we can expect it to create a sizable cultural shift on companies across the globe. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of hybrid working?

As mentioned above, a blend of flexibility and structure is not the only benefit of a hybrid working culture. It gives employees an equal chance at having a life “outside of work” instead of squeezing personal commitments in their busy work schedules. By adopting this approach, companies make it clear that the wellbeing and happiness of their employees are valued and supported. From the perspective of an employer, the upsides are also significant. Hybrid working allows companies to tap into various talent pools due to their offering of flexible work schedules. It can also have a positive lasting effect on employee retention; a mix of remote working and in-office working can seem very attractive to your employees!

But like everything else in the world, hybrid working has its share of downsides too. A traditional office acts as a social leveller, ensuring all employees have the same level of comfort and space. However, this is not the case with a Hybrid Office. Hybrid working can create two extreme employee experiences. Hybrid working also means employees might feel less visible, and hence might over-work themselves in the attempt of getting noticed.

How can we make a Hybrid Workplace Work for our organisation?

  • A hybrid approach will mean setting up a solid IT foundation, using dependable devices, installing robust cybersecurity software and providing remote IT support.
  • Giving your employees an option to work three or more days from the office, two days from the office or go fully remote is an excellent way to dip a toe into hybrid working. This way, the company can provide office desk space for those who want to work more days in the office and contribute to WFH setups to those who want to work from home. 
  • Implement a perk system that is not location-specific. Introduce benefits that people don’t have to come to the workplace to enjoy.
  • Provide adequate training to managers, leaders and employees on how they can do their bit to support their teams during this transition. 
  • Maintain and create an atmosphere of constant communication between employees and management. Communication is vital and will make the transition easier, no matter where employees choose to work form. 

It will most likely take a while to overcome the hurdles surrounding hybrid working, but a having a solid policy, autonomy, communication, and a sense of equity will make Hybrid Working work for your company. 

Whether you opt for office working, remote working or hybrid working, here are six ways you can support the mental health of your employees