Hybrid Workplace Guide: Benefits and Challenges

Actionable Tips for Becoming a Dedicated Hybrid Workplace Adapt

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Recently, the world of work has faced two revolutions in fewer than 24 months. At first, an unplanned and forced shift to fully remote working brought on by the pandemic happened. Now, the revolution is in on a new fold as many organizations adapt hybrid workplace strategies worldwide. 

The research shows that 53% of employees today expect a mix of both home and office-based work, while 24% want to continue working from home permanently. Furthermore, over 97% of employers say they will not reduce pay for employees who work partially from home. 

However, what exactly are the benefits and challenges both employees and employers can face on their way from traditional office environments to a hybrid workplace? Without a proper understanding of the challenges of a hybrid model, your company may struggle to thrive in this new landscape.

A shift to the hybrid working needs planning to make it run smoothly. Moreover, there is no one-size-fits-all hybrid workplace strategy. Therefore, we created this list of the major benefits and challenges of hybrid working for you to be well-prepared for any upcoming pitfalls.  

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What is a hybrid workplace?

A hybrid workplace is the combination of both in-person and remote working modes. However, unlike fully remote workplaces with no physical location, hybrid workplaces have offices. 

Nevertheless, difficult to define, hybrid working can appear differently for various organizations and employees. While some offer blanket working from home rules for entire teams or departments, some companies allow complete flexibility at an individual level. Thus, there is no set structure for hybrid working. However, most commonly the 50/50 model is applied.

The Pulse of the American Worker Survey found that 87% of people want to work from home at least once a week. 68% of American workers say the ability to work remotely, and on-site is the perfect work model. 

Let us move on to the most common types of hybrid workplaces to understand the working process organization better.

Common types of hybrid workplaces

Eight people appear on a screen during a call. A person watched the screen while taking notes. (hybrid workplace)
A meeting with attendees following a partly remote hybrid office model.

As it was mentioned, there is no universal type of hybrid working that suits all the organizations perfectly well. In fact, hybrid working arrangements are so flexible that organizations are free to choose the modes and customize them according to their needs.

However, there are 4 most common models that are worth trying in case you are not sure which type of hybrid working will benefit your business better. Consider starting a hybrid workplace by trying out these models to find the best possible solution. 

Office-First Hybrid Model

An office-first hybrid work model requires employees to come and work at the office most of the time while allowing some remote work for some portion of the working time. Following this model, employees usually get a day or two for remote work a week. 

This model best fits the companies whose employees’ tasks include both activities best done face-to-face and quieter activities. The tech giants Apple and Amazon have become devoted followers of this model since the pandemics. 

Partly Remote Hybrid Model 

A partly remote or remote-ish hybrid work model combines the work of some fully remote teams with that office-bound. State Of Remote Work 2020 survey states that 43% of respondents worked within the partly remote hybrid model. 

In some companies that practice this model, office employees are also often allowed to work remotely from time to time. This model best fits the companies that already operate within physical hubs but want to expand their workforce. A shining example of a partly remote hybrid is the financial services giant — Stripe, which shifted towards this model in 2019.

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Flexible Hybrid Model

The flexible hybrid model gives employees the flexibility to choose when they want to work from the office and when from elsewhere. Undoubtedly, this model can impose limitations. However, these limitations do not refer to distributed teams that are geographically dispersed.

PwC’s remote work survey proves that 55% of respondents would like the ability to work remotely at least three times a week, and only 8% have stated that they would prefer to be entirely office-based., Thus, a flexible hybrid solution is a perfect solution in such cases. During the pandemic, Reddit adopted a permanently flexible hybrid model.  

Choose-your-own-adventure Hybrid Model

The choose-your-own-adventure model offers multiple work models for employees to choose independently. This model usually asks employees to decide on one offered work arrangement and stick to it.

This model is best for highly organized companies that want to provide flexibility to their workforce but remain in control of their resources. A bright example of this model adapt is the CRM software developer HubSpot.

Remote-First Hybrid Model

According to the remote-first hybrid model, remote work is the default. Although the company might still maintain some office space so that people can occasionally go to the office, all the operations and policies align with remote work.

This model is an excellent choice for every company whose operations don’t require in-person collaboration and on-site work, as it not only allows remote work but strongly encourages it. One of the most shining examples of the remote-first approach is Dropbox.

The key benefits of a hybrid workplace 

Based on everything mentioned above, the hybrid workplace promises to be the new workplace solution shortly. It combines the best qualities of remote and in-person work arrangements and overcomes the shortcomings of each type of office environment. 

Let us concentrate on the key benefits of hybrid work model implementation to your business. 

1. Expanded talent pool

Adoption of the hybrid work models considerably expands the hiring potential of the companies. With no or almost no limitations imposed by the physical locations of the offices, companies get the chance to attract more qualified professionals from various locations and hire those who will perfectly fit the model due to their natural abilities and aptitudes

Furthermore, employers can also open positions to professionals who require more flexibility, like those who need altered hours due to other commitments. Thus, remote job postings on LinkedIn alone increased more than five times during the pandemic, proving that many businesses realize the value of tapping into larger talent pools.

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2. Increased productivity 

With 77% of remote workers claiming to be more productive when working outside the office, hybrid workplaces become an efficient way to increase overall business efficiency. By eliminating in-office distractions and adding more flexibility to working hours, employees get the opportunities to concentrate better on their tasks and save time that was usually spent on minor matters. 

When the employees have more flexibility in where they work, they’re more likely to balance their workloads and take ownership and responsibility.

3. Reduced operating costs

With fewer employees in the office, companies need less physical space. Thus, they get the chance to reduce their operating costs and invest money into more valuable things. The hybrid model reduces both office supplies and real estate costs. 

In addition, it also saves money for employees by cutting down on commuting costs. For the individual, reducing travel costs is a considerable saving, especially for those who were daily takeaway coffee addicts or enjoyed a lunch out.

4. Improved employee work-life balance

According to a recent survey, most employees (63%) say flexibility would make them feel more empowered. Finding balance appears to be much easier with flexible work arrangements for employees.

In the 2020 CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey, remote workers reported a Workforce Happiness Index score of 75 out of 100. In addition, employers have noticed a reduction in sick days and a boost in morale overall. Believe it or not, these incredible results were achieved by providing more flexibility and independence to the employees at no cost to employers. 

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The possible downsides of hybrid workplaces

Despite all the benefits listed above, a hybrid work environment has some downsides as well. Let’s take a closer look at the most common disadvantages of hybrid working and what employees and employers can do to minimize or eliminate these effects. 

1. Managing split teams

Managing teams across different locations and even time zones often present a considerable challenge to managers. This is because managing a hybrid team requires a level of leadership that not all managers possess. 

However, there is still hope. Thus, team leaders need to make regular check-ins and informal catch-ups with their employees to connect on everyday workloads but also to guide professional development and support in stressful situations if it is needed.

2. Keeping up a positive workplace culture

Almost 60% of employees say having workplace friends makes their job more enjoyable, while 25% look to workplace friends for support with both work and personal issues. Thus, positive workplace culture is about building connections between people.

Small moments of engagement among employees are essential for creating a positive workplace culture. Therefore, employers need to take advantage of every opportunity to make small connections through coaching, mentorship, idea sharing, coworking, and virtual events to eliminate this effect. 

3. Communication pitfalls

Poor communication has a drastic effect on work performance for remote or partly remote teams. At the same time, achieving efficient and effective communication across distances is a challenge. 

Hybrid businesses need to establish efficient communication channels to make sure important information is received and understood. Consider using instant messaging channels to encourage regular, organized communication across teams to ensure the corresponding communication level. 

A hybrid workspace is the future of work 

Judging by the fact mentioned above, a hybrid workspace is the future of work, as it supersedes the disadvantages of both in-person and remote work arrangements. At the same time, a hybrid workspace doesn’t come without its weaknesses. 

While there are downsides to hybrid working, it is considered a beneficial way of working for the most part. The truth is, the efforts to overcome these challenges should be made both by the employees and the employers so that both could benefit from the hybrid workplace in equal proportions as well. 

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