Hybrid Work Model

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the buzzword was remote working. Companies began to transition to work from home models in order to protect their employees and clients, without having to close down and have a negative effect on their daily operations.

Now, instead of transitioning to remote working models, many businesses are moving towards hybrid work models, which try to blend the best of both worlds between remote and on the premises working models.

Different Hybrid Model Options

The hybrid work model is not a one size fits all type of structure. There is more than just the one way to design a hybrid work model, so companies can customize accordingly, based on what is best for their existing business structure, their clients’ needs, and the needs and strengths of their staff members.

The constant between these options is that they all combine some aspect of working remotely with some aspects of working from the office.

Remote First

Remote first is one of the hybrid work model options that companies are beginning to adopt. This is the option that most closely mirrors the remote working model. It will look slightly different for everyone, but the model allows for the business to have employees spread out between locations as most of them work from home. Some employees might even be working in different time zones. E-mail communication is the preferred method of communication for businesses who utilize a remote first model. 

What differentiates the remote first model from a fully remote work from home model is that the remote first model may still have some employees working in the office. Employees whose physical presence is required may still need to come into the office.

For this reason, the business is not able to get rid of their office space completely, though they may be able to downsize to save money. Many companies who are working fully remote– rather than with a hybrid work model– have decided to get rid of their commercial space, especially if they have planned to continue to work remotely in the future.

The remote first work model allows for employees to relocate their personal lives further away from the office, as the commute into work is no longer required for many. However, the option to go into and utilize the office is still open for those who value it.

There are some employees who do prefer to work in the office, and they can still do this if they so choose. Employees who work under the remote first model does not mean that they will never see each other again, either. These companies may organize team building retreats or events, as well as communication via virtual meetings through different video platforms such as Webex or Microsoft Teams. Employees who live close to each other may also decide to co-work together in a shared space or somebody’s home.

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Office Occasional

Office occasional is another hybrid work model, where employees are required to spend more time in the office than those operating under a remote first plan. This can be due to different reasons, such as the existence of an office space that the company does not want to get rid of, or because of the structure of the business and the need for an in-office presence for its clients.

These such companies may set up the office occasional model to fulfill their needs, but still appeal to employees who prefer the remote model they may have gotten used to.

With this type of hybrid work model, the idea is that employees work in the office a few days a week, and can then work remotely for the rest of the time. The amount of time required in the office or the particular days of the week that this is required may vary from company to company, or from employee to employee.

It could be a looser policy– for example, two in-office days are required and employees can choose which days these are, based on what works for them or their personal preferences. It could also be much firmer, where the amount of days and which days these are are defined by the company or team managers.

Since there is a set amount of time required in the office, the workforce is unable to relocate themselves too far away from work, as they might be able to with a remote first model. Some may still choose to, if they are only going into the office for, say, two days a week– they may not think a long commute for this amount of days to be a big deal.

Office occasional is considered the happy medium between the remote first hybrid model and the office first, but remote allowed hybrid model. Without clear guidelines, it may end up skewing more in one of these two directions.

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Office First, But Remote Allowed

The last of the major hybrid work models is office first, but remote allowed. This model was common before COVID-19 forced most businesses to adopt full remote working models. It designates the office as the primary location for working, but allows remote work as well, depending on individual needs or circumstances.

A small percent of employees may be working remotely, or working remotely for certain days, but most employees are still primarily in the main office space. Often, businesses who have the entire leadership team in one location already will utilize this type of hybrid model. After all, more flexible, remote-focused models typically work better for larger companies where employees are already spread out between different offices and locations.

If the majority of the team is already in this one location, it makes sense that the rest of the company will be office-centered as a result. For certain industries, this type of model is also crucial because it fosters in-person conversation and collaboration.

For example, some of the industries that this supports are creative industries like publishing or design. Remote workers would then be excluded from these types of conversations because they would not be in-office to attend the meetings. Those who do work in the office and those who do not are kept separate because they will have different connections and opportunities, based on who is able to work closely with the in-office leadership team.

Another way that this work model is utilized is when the majority of a team works from the office, with the exception of certain employees or team members. For example, most of the sales team could be working in the office, with a few of its members being permitted to work remotely due to location or other personal differentiators.

The potential issue that office first, but remote allowed hybrid models may cause is a barrier between in office and remote workers. Because in-office employees are working together so closely, the remote workers may feel left out or like second class citizens by comparison.

How Are Businesses Adapting to Hybrid Models?

Adopting hybrid work models requires planning and the consideration of several different aspects of office work life and company culture. In order to integrate these structures successfully, a business should be sure that they have the right people, technology, and processes in place.

Employee Surveys

First things first, a business should find out what their employees need and want. How do their employees feel about hybrid work models? What would work best?

When making a change, it is very important to take the time to research and come up with the data that will inform the decision being made. Additionally, by involving employees when making these sorts of decisions helps to motivate them to continue doing their best work.

After surveying employees, businesses are able to analyze results to discover what will appeal to employees and work best– they can then tailor their hybrid work model plans accordingly.

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Infrastructure

In order to be successful, companies will have to build the proper infrastructure to support the hybrid work model they have decided upon. They will need to invest in technology, such as tools for communication, like online task ticketing platforms and video conferencing equipment. Some businesses may be able to leverage pre-existing tools in new ways, while others will have to invest in new tech. 

Other types of company infrastructures that should be explored are office schedules or floorplans, which can be designed to utilize office space and manage workplace traffic.

Some of the ways this can be done is by allowing custom scheduling, or setting schedules that must be adhered to by all employees. For larger businesses, it may be easier to set stricter schedules to avoid any complications such as having too many people in the office at once, when there are not enough desks for example.

Company Culture 

Company culture becomes even more important when employees are working remotely, or when businesses are adapting to a hybrid work model. This is because it becomes more difficult to foster connection when everyone is working separately, and can affect morale and motivation.

Businesses may choose to host fun virtual events for employees to tune into together, or set up a mentorship program or peer learning exchange. Investing in unique ways to foster team building and build morale is important for companies in order to ensure employee happiness and connection in the long run. After all, a happy employee is more likely to stay where they are and produce quality work!

Employee Feedback

Just as it is important to collect employee opinions in the beginning of the process of planning a hybrid work model switch, it is important to get employee feedback on the changes that are being made.

A successful business will strive to gather continuous employee feedback, not only through the process of implementing the hybrid work model, but beyond. This can be done by sending out quarterly employee surveys, but also by dedicated a space to employee feedback, such as an inbox that is always open, or a channel in one of the company’s messaging technologies. There should be more than one way for employees to make their voices heard.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hybrid working model?

A hybrid working model refers to when teams work in a mixed environment during the week– partially remote, and partially in the office. Some hybrid working models can also refer to the hours that employees are working.

For example, some companies allow for employees to work flex hours, so rather than working 9-5, they could work, say, 8-4. This allows for employees to work when they are most productive.

What is a hybrid working environment?

A hybrid working environment is a flexible work structure, which plays to individual employees’ strengths. In a hybrid team, some employees might work in the office, while others work remotely and work from home. These teams are designed in this way because they know that every employee works differently and has different strengths. For this reason, different employees are managed differently within a hybrid team as well.

What does a hybrid workforce look like?

A hybrid workforce looks like that of a remote workforce– the two do share many similarities. For example, both have employees working in a location other than the office. However, hybrid workforces blend the two styles of work, with some employees working in a central location such as the office, and others working remotely.

Different companies tackle the hybrid workforce differently. Some may have employees working in the office on certain days and then remotely on other days. Others may have certain employees remote every day, while others are working from home every day.

What is a hybrid work schedule?

A hybrid work schedule is a term that refers to the flexible work schedule that many businesses are adopting. This work schedule combines remote working models with in the office working models in order to create a more flexible environment for its employees. Team members may even be able to choose whether or not they prefer to work remotely or in the office. 

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