Hybrid working seems to offer the best of both worlds. It gives employees the flexibility to work both onsite and remotely while providing some practical benefits for companies, such as lower overhead costs. But could it work for your business? There are many factors to consider when determining whether to shift to hybrid work. Explore this helpful guide to learn about different types of hybrid work environments, the latest trends in flexible work, and the benefits and challenges of adopting a hybrid model for your business.
What is hybrid working?
Hybrid working is a type of work model where employees alternate between working in the office and working remotely, either from home or at another workspace. It can vary widely among different employers. For example, some companies may allow employees to choose what days they work remotely, while others have set days for remote work versus in-person work.
Whether a hybrid model may work for your business depends on the type of work your employees do. A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute found the largest area for potential remote work is computer-based work. The report concluded that about 20-25% of workforces in advanced economies could work remotely three to five days a week.
4 types of hybrid work environments
By definition, hybrid working is flexible, so you have options for implementing this model in your business. Some employers let their employees choose when to work remotely, while others mandate a certain number of days in the office each week. Here are some different types of hybrid work environments to consider for your workplace.
Workplace-based hybrid model
In a workplace-based hybrid model, employees usually work onsite, but their employer allows them to work remotely on a limited basis. For example, employees may be able to work from home one day each week or work from home when they can't come into the office, such as when they have a sick child at home.
As the closest hybrid model to a traditional office environment, a workplace-based model allows employees to build relationships by regularly collaborating with their team members in person. However, it offers the least flexibility among hybrid work models, and some employees may prefer more remote work.
Remote-based hybrid model
A remote-based hybrid model is the opposite of a workplace-based model. Under this model, employees primarily work remotely during the week. There's still a physical office location where they can work, hold meetings, or collaborate with team members, but for the most part, they do their work offsite.
The benefit of a remote-based hybrid model is that companies can often reduce their physical office spaces to save money. On the other hand, it requires investing in technology so employees can perform their tasks remotely. In addition, employees may find it harder to connect with their coworkers since they don't work with them in person very often.
Hybrid at-will model
The hybrid at-will model allows employees to choose the days they work in the office and which days they work remotely. With this type of hybrid environment, some employees may choose to work in the office every day, while others may mostly work from home but come in for meetings or group tasks.
Many companies with this work environment cite employee satisfaction and retention as reasons for adopting this model. The research appears to back that up. Microsoft's 2021 Work Trend Index found that 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to continue after the pandemic caused a move to remote work. The downsides of a hybrid at-will model, however, include challenges related to scheduling meetings or assigning in-person tasks when some employees may be in the office, and others may be offsite.
Hybrid fixed model
Unlike a hybrid at-will model, a hybrid fixed model has guidelines for when employees can work remotely. For example, an organization may require employees to work in the office on specific days each week. On the other days, employees can choose to work onsite or remotely. Some companies also allow teams to determine their own schedules. For example, the IT team may work three days onsite each week and two days remotely, while the sales team may work four days in the office and one day remotely.
The hybrid fixed model can be a good option for companies that want to have a flexible environment while knowing which days each employee will be in the office. Employees also benefit from building relationships by collaborating directly with their team members. However, some companies may find it difficult to justify the costs of office space when employees only work in the office a certain number of days each week.
Trends and best practices in hybrid working
Hybrid work has become popular with companies in the post-pandemic era, as it can bring employees back to the office while allowing some flexibility to work remotely. The pandemic caused companies to rethink traditional work models, and at the same time, many employees came to enjoy working from home. Here are some best practices you can implement based on the increase in hybrid working over the past few years.
- Give your employees the tools they need to succeed in the workplace and at home. For example, you may provide work laptops to employees for remote work.
- Make sure there are reasons for employees to come into the office. Whether for team meetings or group projects, give employees a reason to be there.
- Choose the hybrid work model that best suits your business. Hybrid work is flexible and works differently among various industries and companies.
Benefits of hybrid working
One of the biggest advantages of a hybrid work environment is an improved work-life balance for employees. According to Gallup, 71% of employees who had a hybrid work arrangement said they achieved a healthier work-life balance. A hybrid work model allows employees to have greater control over their schedules so they can prioritize their work and personal life. In particular, it's worth considering this work-life balance to recruit millennial and Gen Z employees. A Deloitte study found that work-life balance is the top consideration among these groups when choosing an employer.
Here are some other benefits of hybrid working:
- Employees can choose when to work, which can increase their productivity.
- Employees' autonomy can increase their job satisfaction, leading to higher retention rates.
- You can use a flexible work environment to attract top talent to your business.
- You can reduce overhead costs by downsizing the office space.
"A hybrid work model allows employees to have greater control over their schedules so they can prioritize their work and personal life."
Challenges of hybrid working
While hybrid work models offer many benefits, some challenges come with this type of environment. Here are the biggest drawbacks to hybrid working:
- Some employees might find it more difficult to develop relationships with their coworkers, resulting in disengagement.
- It can be difficult to oversee schedules and tasks when employees work different schedules.
- Employees may have limited access to in-office technologies and tools to help them do their jobs.
- Some industries, like nursing, hospitality, and manufacturing, require employees to work in person.
When choosing a work model for your business, you have many options. Flexible work models, like hybrid working, can lead to higher employee satisfaction and job retention rates. Hybrid work can also be cost-effective to help your business save on real estate costs. Consider the pros and cons of a hybrid work model to determine if it's the right choice for your team.
More tips on offering a flexible work model for employees:
When hiring, hybrid work and flexible hours can be huge draws for candidates, helping you attract top talent to your organization.
In addition to a hybrid work environment, here are seven other alternative work schedules you might want to consider for your business.
If you want to bring employees back to the office, check out these perks you can offer to keep the workforce happy and engaged.
Work-life balance is one of the biggest benefits of hybrid work. Here are some other ways you can help your employees achieve a healthy work-life balance.