What is Hybrid Working?
The hottest future workspace trend, hybrid working has taken the world of workspace by storm. While terms such as flexible working, remote working, agile working, activity-based working (AWB), and hybrid working are all often used interchangeably, all have their own distinct meaning and purpose, though there tends to be a lot of overlap.
Hybrid working is a type of flexible working where an employee splits their time between the office and 1 or more other locations, such as their own home, or a more local co-working space. on a personal level, this can mean any combination of days in-office and remote per week. Across your entire company, different teams could work different combinations of days from home to prevent your office from getting too crowded, or to suit their working styles best.
Hybrid working is often implemented alongside flexible working (working a set number of hours, not specific hours) and other innovative working policies to form an agile working approach. However, hybrid working, with its focus on location, has the most significant of any one of these working methodologies.
Implementing hybrid working build a culture and practice of trust and empowerment, by giving your people the autonomy to work in their most effective style, rather than tying them to an ineffective and arbitrary “one-size-fits-all” approach. And with the pandemic having forced employees across the country to reconsider their work-life balance and values, the companies that cater to these the best will attract and retain the best employees.
Types of Hybrid Working
There are many different variants of hybris working, encompassing varying levels of personal control. However, the most common 3 options are office first, remote-first, and 3-2.
The least radical option available to companies looking to implement hybrid working, office-first involves the office remaining as the default workplace. Workers can then make arrangements to work remote for a specific reason on a regular basis. This does not remove all flexibility but provides a less drastic option for organisations that rely on in-person interaction between team members.
Primarily used as a stop-gap option to ease the workforce back into the office, remote-first aligns most closely with remote working of all the hybrid working variants. By default, workers will remain dispersed unless they have a specific reason to come in- for instance, for a team meeting, or to use a specialist facility.
The most popular hybrid working model with employees, The 3-2 hybrid model requires staff to spend three days in the office and two days at home or vice versa. This provides the best balance, and combined with a personalised flexible approach, encourages staff to use remote time for focussed work, and do collaborative teamwork when in the office with colleagues.
Benefits of Hybrid Working
Hybrid working enables your people to not only work to their strengths, but plan their environments according to their tasks (or the other way round). If your people see remote work as an equally productive alternative to in-office work, they will find their own balance of focussed work and collaboration. Introverts will prefer to spend more time working alone than their extroverted colleagues, so one of the above frameworks may be helpful to keep your people as productive and collaborative as possible.
Control over an environment is one of the most impactful factors in an employee’s wellbeing, so allowing your people control over where they work has a huge impact on their happiness. It is worth bearing in mind that while some will thrive on the flexibility and freedom of remote working, others will find it isolating and distracting. A personalised approach for each employee mitigates many of the downsides of one-location working, whether in-office or remote.
While a better culture is not automatic in the transition to a hybrid working model, the potential payoffs of getting right can be huge. Hybrid working allows access to a wider talent pool, increasing diversity and inclusion in your workforce, making your company more innovative and resilient. Ultimately, the key to a great culture remains the same as an in-office model: aligning your people around a shared vision, purpose, and goals, as well as genuinely valuing and caring for your people.
One of the main complaints with in-office working was (and is) the amount of time spent in unproductive meetings. The percentage of time workers spent in meetings has been rising every year since 2008. The pandemic, however, forced a reset – meetings became far more structured and agenda-driven, wasting far less time. However, this provided for less opportunity for your people to connect on a personal level which has huge benefits for accountability and teamwork. Hybrid finds the best of both worlds by keeping your people connected with face-to-face interaction while providing them with the time and space to focus when they need to do so.
Hybrid Working in Your Office
Until a few short months ago, hybrid working was a niche concept, often used only by tech companies. Now, however, as employees demand a continuation of the flexibility they have become used to over the last 18 months, it is an essential tool to attract and retain the best talent for your organisation. As a company, you have to meet the needs of your high-performing talent or risk losing it to companies that better align with their needs. This means not only a competitive benefits package but a working experience that provides great wellbeing and a meaningful part in your company journey.
Implementing hybrid working requires more than an office refurbishment or relocation. It involves a culture shift that primarily considers performance in terms of outputs and not inputs- thinking about work as a thing you do and not just a place you go. It involves thinking holistically about the way you and your people work now and will work in the future, across time, location, role, and source, as well as the wider considerations of purpose and culture.
Workspace has changed forever with Covid fast-tracking the already emerging trend towards a world of hybrid working. Flexible remote working, the rise of virtual and hybrid communication and employee wellbeing have now become central to the way we think about the future of our office or workplace.
The future workplace needs to be a destination for a world of hybrid working and virtual communication. An agile workspace with less desking and more focus on tech-enabled spaces for collaboration, teamwork, meetings, training, and events. Whether it means reducing your real estate, office relocation, office refurbishment or moving to a hub-and-spoke model, we can help you define and deliver high-performance workspaces for the future. Book a call with an expert today to discover how we can help you create your own hybrid working model.