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GuidesEmployee experienceWhat is hybrid working, and how can you make it work for your company?

What is hybrid working, and how can you make it work for your company?

Last updated

23 November 2023

Author

Claire Bonneau

Reviewed by

Shawnna Johnson

Is your company considering transitioning to a hybrid working model?

The events of 2020 changed the way modern businesses get their work done forever. The desire and push for more inclusive and flexible working schedules has become a significant conversation across most industries.

Often seen as a perk or benefit, many teams are transitioning to a hybrid work model to improve work–life balance and autonomy for employees. But is hybrid working the right fit for your company and team’s needs?

Explore the many types of hybrid work models and discover top tips for making a smooth transition with this helpful hybrid working guide.

What is hybrid working?

Hybrid working is a flexible working model that offers employees a blend of different working environments. These include working from home, the office, and abroad.

This approach’s primary goal is to give employees more autonomy and freedom with their working schedules. It has been proven to positively impact employee experience while still maintaining productivity levels.

As a popular perk that many employees now look for while job-hunting, the number of large and small companies transitioning to a hybrid working model is on the rise.

Hybrid work vs. work from home

A hybrid working model differs from a work-from-home setup. While some companies have opted for fully remote employees, a hybrid working agreement involves at least some variation in your team’s working environment.

Your company may decide to schedule in-office days or let employees choose for themselves (a popular option among most teams). A true hybrid working model involves some level of expectation for employees to come into the office or shared workspace for meetings, training, or company culture events.

Types of hybrid working

Your team can explore several types of hybrid working models to find what suits your needs.

Below are some of the most common (and favored) types of hybrid work models your company might implement:

Flexible hybrid work

As the most accommodating hybrid work model, this working schedule allows employees to choose their work environment based on the type and amount of work they need to do each day.

For example, someone looking to focus and get a lot done can choose to work from home, while someone needing collaborative support can opt to come into the office. This approach allows for a high amount of flexibility that many teams love.

Pros of flexible hybrid work

  • Gives employees schedule and lifestyle flexibility

  • Builds trust and enhances job satisfaction

  • Reduces the cost of in-office supplies and space

Cons of flexible hybrid work

  • Creates barriers to collaborative in-person work

  • Can lead to employee isolation if not properly monitored

Fixed hybrid work

A fixed hybrid work model is a more rigid and structured approach to this type of working schedule.

In practice, your company might ask employees to come into the office on fixed days—Mondays and Wednesdays, for example. The goal of this type of hybrid model is to allow for flexibility while also maintaining a more traditional in-office working presence.

Pros of fixed hybrid work

  • Strongly prioritizes in-person collaboration and work

  • Creates a consistent weekly working schedule

  • Allows easy planning of in-office capacity

Cons of fixed hybrid work

  • Limits employee choice

  • Can cause time to be wasted on commuting when focused work is needed

  • Can lead to employee disengagement and dissatisfaction

Office-first hybrid work

Falling between the previous two options, office-first hybrid work involves employees being asked to come to the office for a set number of days a week. They can choose which days they come in.

This approach is a great choice for teams without a set schedule for meetings, allowing for changes in the schedule from week to week. Additionally, employers might ask workers to be in the office but let them flex their schedule to work from home when there are no meetings or other in-person activities.

Pros of office-first hybrid work

  • Provides individual choice and flexibility

  • Ensures team members come into the office to maintain working relationships and company culture

  • Allows teams to adjust their working environment week to week, depending on their schedule

Cons of office-first hybrid work

  • Planning large team meetings can be challenging

  • It’s hard to know how many people will be in office on any given day

Remote-first hybrid work

Remote-first hybrid work only requires team members to come into the office for team-building events, all-hands meetings, and company-wide training.

Some companies that use this model opt not to have permanent office space, saving money by renting or booking it when needed.

Pros of remote-first hybrid work

  • Allows for increased flexibility and control over personal schedules

  • Saves money and resources by reducing office space expenses

  • Still accommodates in-person work and collaboration

Cons of remote-first hybrid work

  • Requires forward-planning

  • No office base for people to gather for short-notice, in-person meetings

  • Can lead to difficulties in maintaining company culture and socialization

The benefits of hybrid work models

In most cases, employees and upper management can enjoy many benefits by transitioning to hybrid working. Aside from increasing schedule autonomy and flexibility for employees, some of the most commonly reported benefits of using a hybrid working model include the following:

Decreasing environmental footprint

By allowing your team to work from home more regularly, your company can reduce the resources and utilities used during employee commutes and the energy needed to power and heat the office. For companies that prioritize eco-conscious practices, a hybrid work model can help you meet your goals.

Being more cost-effective

Renting and furnishing office space is expensive, especially if you work for a large company in a busy and populated area. A hybrid working model lets your team rent a smaller office space (or forgo renting one altogether except for occasional all-hands meetings), saving thousands of dollars every month on space, utilities, and commute expenses.

Reducing work burnout and dissatisfaction

Your employees need to stay engaged and satisfied to produce the best possible work. Transitioning to a hybrid working schedule helps boost employee satisfaction, preventing burnout and employee attrition over time.

How to transition to a hybrid working model

A company looking to switch to hybrid working should follow the steps below to help make the transition smoother (and hopefully cause fewer headaches).

Ask for employee input and feedback

Collect input from your teams and colleagues before deciding to move the entire company to hybrid work. This change will impact your employees’ day-to-day routines, so you must get an understanding of their opinions, values, and preferences before committing to hybrid working.

Whether you choose to send out a company-wide survey or host an all-hands meeting and ask for feedback, here are some questions to ask your team before transitioning to hybrid work:

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how interested are you in moving to a hybrid working schedule?

  • In an ideal world, how often would you like to come into the office every week?

  • How many in-person meetings do you attend each week?

  • In your opinion, what would be a potential barrier to our team moving to a hybrid work model?

After you move to hybrid work, check in with your team and ask for feedback. This will help you make the necessary adjustments to keep everyone productive and happy.

Set up your digital presence and communication channels

Once you have determined the type of hybrid work model that best fits your team’s needs, you’ll need the necessary digital tools to allow your team to do their jobs remotely.

Before you jump head-first into hybrid work, save yourself some logistical nightmares by pre-testing and trialing the following digital tools within your company:

  • Communication channels: your team needs to be able to communicate when working at home. Apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams help employees communicate throughout the workday.

  • Product management software: remote teams need to be able to see the projects people are working on (and what deadlines are creeping closer). Help your team stay organized and on top of their work by integrating apps like Trello, Jira, Asana, or Notion.

  • File submission platforms: no matter where your team is working, they need to be able to share work with internal or external stakeholders safely. Ensure your team knows how to securely submit client work using platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, and SharePoint.

  • Virtual meeting software: just because your team is working from home doesn’t mean they don’t need to attend client-facing and internal meetings. Facilitate clear and effective remote meetings using virtual software like Zoom, Google Meet, or Loom.

Remember to invest in company culture

Workplace culture, an essential part of a healthy and happy work environment, can often take a backseat when teams transition to a hybrid working model. Because coworkers no longer see each other in person every day at the office, it’s easy for feelings of isolation and disengagement to develop.

To combat this (and to create an even more inviting work environment for your team), here are a few tips for maintaining a healthy and vibrant company culture after transitioning to hybrid work:

Hold regular team meetings

Outside of necessary client and all-hands meetings, organizing weekly or monthly meetings for colleague catch-ups is a great way to maintain connection and socialization. For larger teams with members who don’t often cross paths, consider using apps like Donut, which encourage brief 1:1 meetings. These tools are a great way to boost morale and build camaraderie.

Host fun virtual events

Just because your team works from home doesn’t mean you can’t participate in fun team-bonding activities! Outside of classics like pictionary or trivia, your team can explore plenty of remote-friendly social activities to improve company culture.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Virtual cooking class

  • Remote African safari

  • Dressing up for a murder mystery party

  • Virtual cocktail or mocktail hour

  • Remote museum-guided tour

Make a water cooler chat

A great way to keep people chatting and social is to create a “water cooler” chat in your company’s communication software. Designed to work like a break room water cooler, in this chat, you should encourage your team to chat about their weekends, upcoming events, or anything else. It’s a simple way to keep everyone engaged and connected.

Is hybrid working right for your team?

So, will your company transition to hybrid work or not? The choice has more moving parts than you may have realized.

Hybrid working has taken the world by storm since the 2020 pandemic caused companies to adapt their previous working setups. Now, with many employees interested in working for organizations that offer working flexibility and autonomy, transitioning your company to a hybrid working model is a great way to keep your team happy and productive.

Involve your employees in your decision-making process and carefully consider the pros and cons of each hybrid working model to make the best choice and keep your team satisfied.

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