How does the hybrid working model work and how could you apply it?
A hybrid working model is a way of working that combines elements of working from the office and home. Although this flexible approach has been steadily increasing in popularity over the last decade, it has now become more ubiquitous than ever before due to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to one survey, 84% of managers reported that their company had adopted hybrid working and two thirds of these said it was prompted by the pandemic.
Beyond Covid-19, the hybrid work model looks like it will continue as the 'new normal' for many businesses. In May 2022, the UK Office For National Statistics found that the proportion of hybrid workers was 24%, an increase of nearly double since the start of February. Moreover, when McKinsey surveyed 100 executives in various industries and countries in 2021, it became clear that 9/10 organisations will be using a hybrid combination of remote and on-site working.
So, with the statistics indicating that hybrid working is here to stay, it's a good time to brush up our knowledge on this flexible working model. In this article, we'll explore what exactly hybrid work is, the benefits it offers, and how your organisation can implement it. Read on to learn how you can make hybrid working work for you.
What exactly is hybrid working?
A hybrid working model is a way of working where employees spend part of their time in the office and part of their time elsewhere - be it at home, in a coffee shop, or even on the go. This is often facilitated by digital communications tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and other platforms.
How does a hybrid working policy work?
The specifics of the hybrid work model vary between different organisations. One aspect which may vary is how many days employees come to work each week. Some companies might have the expectation that employees work remotely two days a week and come to the workplace the remaining three, or vice versa. Some teams might remote work four days a week and only come to the office for a big whole-team meeting on a Monday, while others might spend the majority of their time in the workplace.
The amount of flexibility also varies between different hybrid workplaces. In some organisations, the hybrid working policy may require employees to remote work on the same specific days each week (eg. Monday to Wednesday), which is sometimes called scheduled hybrid work. Meanwhile, other workplaces allow more flexible working where staff can choose which days they spend remote working. This is often referred to as at-will hybrid working.
Examples of hybrid work models
How are different organisations implementing hybrid work? Let's look at some key case studies that demonstrate the different ways hybrid working can be implemented.
American Express has announced a hybrid future for the company. They ask their employees to work in the physical office three days a week (usually Tuesdays-Thursdays), whereas Mondays and Fridays are considered 'colleague choice days' where the employees can decide whether to work in the office or at home. They explained the reasoning behind this work policy in a memo to all employees: 'having colleagues in the office on the same three days will drive collaboration and enable us to get the most out of being together.'
After a survey found that 90% of Intel's workforce wanted hybrid working, Intel made going hybrid a priority. Giving individual teams the freedom to determine when and how frequently employees come to the office or remote work, Intel decided not to mandate a specific number of days per week that individuals should be in the physical office space. After the pandemic demonstrated that Intel's workers were still productive during remote work, Intel's expectation is that the company will continue to thrive as a 'hybrid-first' business.
Software company Salesforce has created a hybrid workplace with what they're calling the 'Success From Anywhere Model'. They give employees three options for their working: the first is 'office-flexible working' which might be considered the most traditional hybrid model where employees work an average of 1-3 days in the office each week and spend the rest as remote workers. They have also offered their workforce the option for fully remote work or 100% office-based working. With these flexible working options, Salesforce gives their employees the power to choose the best option for them.
The benefits of a hybrid working model
There are many advantages to using the hybrid way. For example, according to the Office For National Statistics, businesses who are planning a hybrid arrangement for their post-pandemic future cited improved staff wellbeing as the most common reason, followed by reduced overheads and increased productivity.
Let's take a closer look at some of the key benefits of the hybrid work model for employers and employees.
Improved work-life balance
Work-life balance is considered the most important aspect of a job by more than two thirds of people - more consistently important than pay or job security!
Hybrid working can be great for the work-life balance of team members. From reducing commute times, allowing employees to more easily run errands or exercise in their lunch breaks, to increasing the amount of time staff can spend with their families, a hybrid work model makes it easier for employees to balance their work and life.
With good work-life balance providing significant benefits for employee wellbeing, health, happiness, motivation, productivity, and retention, it's clear that the hybrid model can be great for the whole business.
However, there is one caveat to this. Some employees have also found that hybrid working has the potential to damage work-life balance, especially if they find themselves responding to work communications after hours on their remote working days. As a result, organisations can take steps to reduce the blurring of boundaries between work and home life, for example by making it a policy to schedule emails for the next day instead of sending them after hours.
Many employees have found that the more flexible working provided by a hybrid schedule allows them to perform better at work. The majority of workers reported that they are more productive when hybrid working in one survey.
This is linked to many factors. For example, hybrid working makes it easier for employees to work then they are most productive: early birds who do their best work in the mornings can get started on their tasks remotely instead of wasting hours commuting, while other employees might find their productivity boosted by a lunchtime dog walk or workout that they wouldn't be able to do at the office.
Cost-effective for employees and employers
For employees, working from the office can be expensive. From the money spent on commuting (including travel passes for trains and buses and petrol, maintenance, and insurance for cars) to the price of buying lunches and workwear, the price of office working can add up rapidly. In fact, research has found that employees save nearly £500 a month by working remotely.
Can finances have an impact on team members' performance? Absolutely. One report by HR leaders SHRM found that 80% of employers reported that financial stress was lowering their employees' performance levels, costing businesses nearly half a trillion dollars each year. Saving money on commuting and other workplace costs means that your employees can feel less stressed about finances, improving their health and performance.
In addition to this, employers can save money with hybrid work in a number of ways. Perhaps adopting a hybrid work model allows your business to downsize into a flexible managed office or co-working space and pay less rent; maybe it means reduced energy costs for lighting and heating the workplace every day of the workweek. It has even been estimated that each person who works remotely for half of the week allows their organisation to save an average of $11,000!
The bottom line: hybrid working can be better for everyone's budgets.
Lower staff turnover and attracting top talent
It's no secret that hybrid working policies are also an effective way to hold on to your top talent. One survey found that 47% of employees were likely to look for a new job if their employer did not offer them a hybrid work model. With hybrid work especially popular among the younger generations, failing to offer a hybrid model could result in missing out on key talent and younger workers who bring fresh ideas and perspectives to your business.
Moreover, in addition to hybrid working being a perk that many job seekers value, a hybrid model also makes it easier for applicants from a wider geographical area to apply for roles. By widening the applicant pool, businesses make it more likely that they'll attract top talent.
How to implement hybrid working
Considering implementing a hybrid working policy? Here's how to start.
Do your research
We don't just mean reading articles about hybrid work online - it's vital that you talk to your employees about what they want and need. For example, do they prefer the idea of being remote-first, office-first, or truly flexible? Would they prefer to have specific days each week when everyone is in the office for easier meetings and collaboration?
Create a survey or chat to the team members face-to-face to gather their opinions and preferences, then use this research to create your own hybrid workplace.
Make sure you have the necessary tools
To ensure that the hybrid workforce is successful, it's important to have the necessary tools. These can range from communications tools like Zoom and Slack to allow employees to meet easily, project tracking tools like Trello or Asana to keep everyone on the same page, and even online calendars that make it easy to see when people will be in or out of the office.
In addition to digital tools, it's vital that remote workers have access to high-speed Wi-Fi and reliable equipment at home to allow them to do their jobs effectively.
Focus on company culture
One of the concerns associated with hybrid and remote workers is a loss of company culture and sense of belonging at work. In fact, one survey found that the top reason employees wanted to return to the workplace was to connect with their coworkers, while the second was to reconnect with their organisation's goals and shared purpose.
This means that for the hybrid work model to be effective, organisations need to put effort into maintaining company culture. This might involve a daily or weekly all-team check in call, more frequent in-person socials, or one day a week where everyone is requested to be in-office.
The important thing is that people still feel connected to the company culture and their coworkers.
Change the way you use the office space
The rise of remote working and hybrid working during the pandemic has caused many of us to see the office space differently - there's no longer a belief that people can only do their jobs when they're in the office.
With your hybrid work policy, it's useful to make it clear that expectations around the office are changing. Perhaps you want to remove some of the desks and create a new more casual brainstorming space for that face-to-face collaboration that can be difficult online. Maybe you want to revamp the office with new branding and cool features that motivate employees to come back to the workplace. Either way, it's likely that hybrid working will require you to change the way you use the office space to create a more flexible environment.
Research by PwC has found that 77% of UK organisations are planning to reconfigure their current office space and 50% think they will downsize. So, if you're considering switching to a more flexible workspace, consider some of these different types of hybrid-friendly offices.
Check in with employees
This is key: communication is everything when hybrid working. Continue to check in with the workforce to keep up to date with how everyone is experiencing the hybrid model. It can be useful to ask for feedback in employee satisfaction surveys, meetings, and one-to-ones, always looking for new ways that the hybrid model can be improved for your organisation.
With everyone from international corporations like Salesforce and American Express to tiny startups now implementing a hybrid workplace model, the future of the workplace seems to be hybrid.
Want to implement more flexible working for your business? Future Squared can help. We help match businesses with their perfect flexible offices in amazing locations throughout the UK. We work with companies such as:
- SMEs downsizing space due to remote-friendly policies encouraging employees to work from home
- Startups looking for a new office-first hybrid workplace after starting life with a remote-first model
- Businesses looking for a flexible home for their hybrid company, such as a serviced office or co-working space
Want to find your perfect hybrid-friendly office? Get in touch today and we'll help your business find its new home.