Before the pandemic most workers were used to a fully on-site work experience with maybe a few days per year out of the office, but then Covid-19 quickly turned that around making working from home the new normal. While the world is still recovering many companies have slowly started to go back to the office, however, experts suggest that the future of workplaces might be leaning more and more towards a hybrid office model or hybrid workplace. In this article we’ll look at the hybrid workplace model, its benefits, challenges and how to implement it in the workplace.
What is the hybrid workplace model?
You might already be working in a hybrid workplace without even realizing ing! The hybrid workplace model is a flexible form of work environment that provides employees with the choice to work wherever they’re most productive, be it in the office, remotely from home, or a blend of the two. Apart from the core criteria of a mix between on-site and remote workers, the backbone of a hybrid office are support and flexibility.
The post-pandemic workplace is becoming more and more fluid than the office model of the past. With working remotely likely to stay as the new norm for many the decision whether to go into the office or not is depending on the employees and their personal preference.
Benefits of a hybrid office
Apart from flexibility and support for employees, the hybrid office work model also has a number of benefits for employers.
One of the great advantages of a hybrid workplace for organizations is in securing talent by opening opportunities to a wider pool of applicants. Previously many potential applicants have been restricted by commuting distances, but with the opportunity to work remotely this no longer applies. Access to a larger talent pool also means an increase in inclusion and diversity in businesses.
Another benefit of the rising popularity of hybrid offices is it contributes to cutting down CO2 emissions. Employees have to travel to and from the office less often and if they do go into the office, they can be flexible with their travels and work.
Research on the topic has also found that working remotely can increase employees’ work productivity. By working at a familiar environment with most distractions, such as chatty co-workers removed, workers are able to focus better on the task at hand. Many companies indicate that working partly remote has increased both the quantity of work getting done as well as the quality of it.
A hybrid work schedule can improve overall employee satisfaction as well. By having more control over where they work from and when they come to the office, employees are able to achieve a better work and personal life balance. Additionally, having the choice to work from home can also allow employees to work according to their personal preferences. Some people thrive in a social environment and need other people around them to motivate themselves, while others prefer a quiet and isolated workplace with no distractions. Giving employees the choice to work in an environment that fits their personality results in happier, more energized workers and can significantly lower stress levels in the office.
Challenges of a hybrid office
Along with the benefits presented by hybrid workplaces, there are also a number of challenges in having your employees being in different work spaces.
As we have already established a hybrid office model emphasizes es on providing flexibility for your employees, however, if implemented without much care it can lead to misalignment between employees that are in the office and those working from home. One of the main selling point for hybrid model of work is balance between autonomy and collaboration, so you have to ensure your work arrangement promotes both of them. One way to solve this problem is to have a schedule for all employees with allocated in-office and remote working days. That way they can use the in-office days to do more collaborative tasks and reserve the work from home time for tasks that don’t necessarily require much communication.
Scheduling meetings is one more challenge when half your employees and in the office and the other half all around the country or the world. In can be hard to get everyone in a meeting or find a time that is convenient for everyone, but balancing meetings between on-site and remote employees should be a crucial concern. Making video meetings over Zoom or Teams the default when at least one of the participating employees is working from home is a possible solution to the problem. That way you can also make sure that no one is left out of important communications.
Management is another issue with having remote employees, both from the managers and the employees perspective. It’s hard for the former to do their job properly without in-person interaction or provide constructive feedback without showing bias towards on-site workers. To make things easier for both parties a culture of trust is the key here, as well as constant communication. In some cases it might also be worth getting professional services to support you in managing your remote team.
Company culture and team spirit are also experienced much differently for employees in the office and remote workers. This is especially valid for new starters who want to get involved in a remote or hybrid setting. When organising company events in a hybrid office settings, employers need to aim and keep the experience as balanced as possible and make sure everyone is involved.
Creating an effective hybrid workplace
When implementing the hybrid work model into your office there are a number of things to keep in mind in order to ensure a smooth experience for your employees.
One of the things that companies need to rethink when creating a hybrid work environment is the design of their meeting spaces. This includes not only consideration for office workers but also remote employees, and needs to emphasize on the fluid movement between the two.
As workers use working from home as an opportunity to do individual work, offices are likely to become mostly a place for collaboration and that needs to be reflected on when designing your office space. This can be done by replacing the traditional large conference rooms with more varied meeting spaces that can facilitate different number of participants as the need demands and allowing them to spread out in the space.
Along with that, the increase of remote employees means it’s more likely to have at least a few remote meeting participants. This demands meeting spaces to be optimized to support video conferencing.
It’s important to ensure all meeting spaces allow for seamless connection for people not in the office by supporting various video conferencing platforms and ensuring the internet connectivity is at the highest quality.
Replacing the traditional hardware systems with online systems that can be ran from employees’ laptops is a flexible and cost-efficient way to transform any space into a conference space.
Besides meeting space design and conference technology, it’s important to consider how employees can communicate with each other. As offices become more flexible it’s important to implement solutions that will allow workers to communicate and collaborate more easily.
There are many collaborative software solutions with integrated features such as employee calendars, way-finding, room booking and monitoring that can allow workers to easily find their colleagues, schedule meetings and collaborate in this fluid work environment.
If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s how easily our work life can be distorted calling for a reconstruction of the traditional workplace model.
Keeping track of employee performance and workplace statistics is more necessary than ever. With a growing number of people working from home it’s hard for managers to follow everyone’s productivity.
Setting up a system for employee performance management is important not only for monitoring everyone’s performance. It also helps employees keeping track of the tasks that need completing.