It was in 2020 when the pandemic forced most companies to go remote. Now, with the world going back to normal, the debate of remote vs. office has once again become a topic of interest.
Offices have started to open up but not everyone’s ready to go the traditional route and many businesses are following a hybrid model. While the concept isn’t new, not everyone knows how hybrid offices work. We’ll tell you all about the concept and answer ‘how does a hybrid office work?’ in this article.
What is Hybrid Office Model?
A hybrid workplace, more commonly called a hybrid office, is a model that allows flexibility when it comes to workforce distribution. In a hybrid office model, the workforce is distributed into remote and in-house employees.
This ‘flexible’ model gives employees the choice to work wherever they feel most productive. This includes:
In-Office: Working in cubicles or offices are examples of in-office work.
Remote: Remote work involves working outside of the office from a remote location (usually from home). This model is also called the WFH (work from home) model. You could work from anywhere including a cafe, hotel, or park.
What truly makes a hybrid office model effective is how much room it allows for flexibility and support.
What are the Different Types of Hybrid Office Models?
During the pandemic, more than 51% of employees claimed to have felt more productive while working from home. The hybrid model isn’t stringent and offers a lot of flexibility. Here are some of the most popular models:
Remote-First: As the name suggests, this type of model prioritizes remote working above all.
Office-First: In this type of model, the dominant place for work is the office itself with permission to work outside.
3-2 Day: Under this model, employees are required to spend three days a week working from the office and two days a week working from home (or vice versa).
Planned WFH: In planned work from home, HR pre-plans specific days where employees can work remotely. This is usually planned for days on which there are no meetings scheduled.
Occasional Office Days: Lastly, we have the occasional office days model. Through this model, employers have the power to decide when employees are needed in the office.
5 Benefits of the Hybrid Office Model
When implemented and planned perfectly, a hybrid office model has the ability to bring improvements to an organization in the form of:
1. More Productivity
Going hybrid is a great way to get more done. It offers flexibility that makes people feel at ease and results in more productivity.
A hybrid office model gives employees the power to pick and choose where they feel more productive. No two workers are the same, some enjoy the calm of the office and some love the comfort of the house.
Giving employees the autonomy to choose where they wish to work gives them a sense of importance and work satisfaction. Hence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that about 83 percent of employees prefer a hybrid model.
2. Better Talent Retention and Reaching Out to a Wider Talent Pool
About 55% of employees prefer to work from home at least twice a week. This means most employees are more likely to decline a job offer that doesn’t allow remote work.
This should be a very clear indicator for employers to adopt the hybrid office model. A hybrid model will allow you to improve retention and hire the best people. This is important because replacing an employee costs 2x the person’s yearly salary.
3. Mental Health Benefits
A hybrid model brings the best of both worlds by allowing users to work from home in a comfortable environment while giving them a chance to mingle with others and continue to socialize. About 86 percent of people believe that remote work reduces stress.
As a result, they attain a healthy work life balance and feel lighter and happier. Reports suggest that a hybrid model reduces office politics and gives people fewer things to worry about.
4. Increased Productivity
Almost 6 out of 10 people say that they feel more productive at home. In comparison, 14% claim that they got much less done.
These stats prove what many companies witnessed during the lockdowns – not every task requires employees to be present in the office.
On the other hand, it is also fair to say that not every work task can be performed at home.
This is why a hybrid model is both efficient and effective in promoting productivity in employees.
5. Reduced Costs
Both workers and employees get to save money. According to Global Workplace Analytics, companies can save up to $11,000 per employee per year by letting employees work from home around 50 percent of the time.
In fact, it is believed that employers saved around $30 billion every day during the pandemic as more people worked from home.
Fewer workers mean less use of resources. You can save on utility bills and even move to a smaller place. Similarly, a hybrid model can help employees save money as well. It is believed that you can save around $4,000 per year by working from home.
The concept is simple, not going to the office means fewer expenses and more time to concentrate on other tasks.
5 Challenges of the Hybrid Office Model
While there are definitely some advantages to the hybrid workspace, it also comes with some challenges:
1. Keeping Work Visible
It is common for workers to get a little ‘lazy’ when they’re working from home as they’re not worried about managers keeping an eye on them. This is a challenge that can be solved by improving communication and creating and sticking to a schedule.
2. Weakened Sense of Belonging
Around 25% of people said they feel lonely while working from home.
This is another downside of the hybrid office model. However, one can solve this problem by choosing a hybrid model that allows workers to work from the office when desired.
3. Managing Office Capacity & Schedules
Reducing space in the office to reduce costs is one of the benefits of the hybrid office model; however, working around a small space and having to pre-schedule in-office days can be a difficult task.
In case an employee decides to opt for in-office instead of WFH, last-minute changes have to be made to the schedule.
4. Collaboration Issues
Another downside of hybrid working is a lack of collaborative communication. With half of the workforce working from home while the other half sits in the office, there are bound to be some issues. That said, we are witnessing some collaboration tools, like Slack, Zoom, or Miro, going mainstream and enabling collaboration almost as efficient as in office environment.
5. Reduced Team Engagement
Since employees get less time with each other, they often don’t know how to work in teams when they work on office days. To solve this problem, one should work on team building exercises and encourage employees to know each other.
Practical Tips for Hybrid Office: How to Set Up a Hybrid Workspace
1. Set a clear policy
Keep in mind that setting up a hybrid office does not mean that employees have complete free will. There are still some policies that need to be established and communicated to the employees.
Speak a language that is common to the workforce. Make sure to define what certain terms such as in-office or remote work mean.
Define the schedule that will be followed and who will be in charge of planning it.
Let employees know who they should get in touch with, in case they need a change in the schedule that has been set up for them.
From a practical example, a hybrid office policy should be flexible. It should clearly define how many days employees can opt for WFH and what days they must come to the office.
2. Enable Flexibility
If the goal of a company is employee retention, then an important policy to have while setting up a hybrid office is to allow room for flexibility.
Without flexibility and room for choice, setting up a hybrid office may prove to be counterproductive and employees might not feel heard.
3. Make it Easy to Book Office or Home Days
Make it easy for employees to schedule or plan their days. If your team needs to reach out to the office manager to schedule an office day, or locate a Google form or a spreadsheet, this will make things more difficult for everyone. You can keep things super simple by using Buka, and streamline the whole process.
It can automatically assign office and home days to employees according to available resources. The tool will not only help make things easier for managers but for employees as well.
4. Design for the People Not in the Room
Make the workspace more inclusive by setting up a proper screen for people working from home to join meetings virtually so that they don’t feel left out.
Use an online management system or task sheet to assign tasks and ensure there is proper communication.
5. Encourage Teams to Use Office Days for Team Building and Collaboration
A big problem with working from home is how lonely people feel.
To battle this issue, employers should have a policy to encourage employees to use office days to communicate with other employees.
It might be a good idea to allow employees to complete individual tasks remotely and schedule office days for collaborative tasks like workshops.
3 Quick Examples of Hybrid Office
Now that we’ve covered the good and the bad of the hybrid office model, let’s take a look at some of the largest companies that have implemented the model as a post-pandemic approach.
Uber shifted to a hybrid model in April 2021 on popular demand. The company decided to provide more flexibility to workers in terms of where they work from and what office they choose to work in.
Similar to Uber, Wise has also gone hybrid. More interestingly, the company gave the employees the flexibility to work from any corner of the world for 90 days per year.
Bank of England
A poll conducted amongst the employees of the bank revealed that a major part of the workforce hoped to work from home at least thrice a week. To test waters, the company is currently testing a ‘one day in the office’ model.
Whether we accept it or not, more and more companies around the world are opting for the hybrid office model.
Not only is it more cost-effective for both employers and employees alike, but it also provides flexibility to both parties.
If your team uses Slack and you switched to hybrid, then Buka might just be the tool you are looking for.
With Buka, managing office and home days become effortless. You can simply enter relevant details such as office space and capacity, and let Buka handle the rest.