What is a hybrid workplace model?
Explore examples, benefits, and challenges of this new way of working
Hybrid work isn’t just a passing trend—it’s here to stay. Almost three-quarters of US companies (74%) are using or plan to use a permanent hybrid workplace model, according to a 2022 Zippia survey. The question is, what’s the right scheduling option for your organization? There are several choices to consider.
This article explores key hybrid work topics, including:
- What is a hybrid work schedule?
- Comparing 3 work models
- Types of hybrid work schedules
- Benefits of a hybrid work model
- Challenges of hybrid work environments
What is a hybrid work schedule?
A hybrid work schedule is a flexible work model that combines the 2 common work styles: in-person and remote. This means that workers don’t need to be in the office all the time, but they’re not 100% remote. Employees may be given times to be in the office or have the autonomy to choose when and where they get work done.
Comparing 3 work models
Let’s take a closer look at the 3 most common work models and the experiences they create for employees.
In-office work schedule
Employees always work from the office, except on the infrequent occasion that circumstances prevent them from doing so.
Remote work schedule
All employees work from home or remotely from different locations instead of in a physical office. Team members may see one another in person throughout the year for events or meetings.
Hybrid work schedule
This method combines the 2 other models. Some days, employees will work from home, and on other days they’ll follow a specific structure in the office.
While hybrid work isn’t new, most companies have only gotten on board with this concept in the last few years. In 2017-2018, only 25% of wage and salary workers worked from home at least sometimes. By 2021, 38% of employed people were taking advantage of a hybrid work-from-home model.
Types of hybrid work schedules
There are several ways to implement a hybrid workplace model. Review these options to see what will work best for your team.
This schedule allows a team to have different permanent work locations, such as some team members working in the office and others working remotely. Entire teams may also designate a specific day of the week for everyone to meet in person at the office.
Split week (3:2 model)
Employees work in the office for 3 days and spend 2 days working from home. This policy allows everyone to be in the office at the same time and still enjoy some of the benefits of working from home.
This strict cohort-based schedule requires small groups of employees to come into the office and leave at designated times. These schedules are most common in shift-based work, especially when a business may be operating at reduced capacity but still needs to have some team members in the office at all times.
Week on, week off
Employees come in for one week and focus on the tasks they need to complete in person. The following week, they can work remotely. A variation of this hybrid work schedule may also allow for one week in the office, then several weeks at home.
Flexible (or at will)
Team members are always able to choose their work environment, their working hours, or both. As long as work gets done, employees are free to choose. This option may require specific systems to run smoothly. For example, employees may need a process for reserving space in the office if they have plans to come in.
Synchronous versus asynchronous
Synchronous communication requires contact in real time. While employees may be working across different locations, they’ll all attend meetings at the same time. It might be challenging to find a time that works for everyone if your team is distributed across the globe, but online platforms make this method more accessible than ever.
Asynchronous communication happens on the employees’ own time and can happen from any location. For non-urgent conversations, asynchronous channels like email or messaging apps keep your team connected while still keeping schedules flexible.
Benefits of a hybrid work model
Curious about what implementing a hybrid work model can do for your company or your employees? Here are some of the benefits you can expect:
Reduces operating costs
Many people think about hybrid working in the context of how it affects employees, but workers aren’t the only ones who see the benefits of a hybrid work model. According to Robin’s 2022 Office Space Report, 83% of businesses using a hybrid work model are doing it to trim costs.
Cutting down on office space and equipment allows organizations to save money, and many companies have plans to continue downsizing. The same report shows that 59% of workplace leaders plan to decrease their office footprint by half or more next year.
Sticking to a rigid schedule might seem like the best way to ensure productivity, but research shows that it might not result in the best possible outcome. In Gartner’s 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, 43% of respondents said that flexible working hours helped them be more productive.
For those who do find flexible schedules to be a benefit, this has a big business impact. A survey done in 2020 by Airtasker found that flexible workers on average work 1.4 more days every month when compared with their in-office counterparts.
Increases employees’ physical and mental health
As more people are changing their mindset about how they work, they’ve come to realize the impact that spending less time in the office can have. According to a survey published by Salesforce in 2021, over 50% of workers feel that hybrid work environments contribute positively to their physical and psychological well-being.
Turnover is a significant problem for businesses across industries, and high levels of turnover act as a drain on time and resources. On average, companies see a 12% decrease in turnover when they let their employees work remotely at least some of the time. This is critical as organizations compete with one another to attract the workers they want to have on their teams.
Challenges of hybrid work environments
Even with all the benefits of a hybrid work schedule, challenges can arise. Consider how you’ll manage them before adopting the structure long-term.
Flexibility at work can be a good thing, but it also has its downsides. When you can’t just walk into any co-worker’s office to ask a question, you need to know how to get in touch. Employees also must know what’s expected of them when they’re leveraging your hybrid work-from-home model. Otherwise, there’s bound to be miscommunication and delays.
To prevent this, have clear channels for all workers to connect with one another. You may also need to establish processes for on-site and remote workers to connect in real time. This will make sure everyone can collaborate and participate in meetings.
Team member burnout
On the days employees do work from home, it might be difficult for them to know when to unplug. This can lead to issues with overworking and may cause workers to feel burned out more quickly. To avoid this, leaders need to be clear about what tasks people must complete and when employees should step away from the screen while working remotely.
People spend a third of their life “at work,” according to Gettysburg College, but what happens when that work isn’t always in the same place as other people? Hybrid work can make it difficult to create the company culture you want and boost morale. Employees may feel disconnected from one another and isolated with a hybrid work-from-home approach.
This makes it more important than ever to find ways to create connections, giving employees space and time to foster interpersonal relationships. One idea to help everyone feel more in the loop is by hosting events in the office and online.
IT costs and cybersecurity risks
Zippia’s survey shows that companies’ IT expenses rose almost 7% between 2020 and 2021 as they continued to adjust to the new reality of remote or hybrid schedules. Organizations need to make sure their employees have the tools and systems they need, no matter where they are. They also need to pay closer attention to their work devices and security risks that pose a threat in hybrid work environments.
How to bring more happiness to your hybrid workplace
With all the available workplace models, you can try rolling out the one that best suits your company culture and work style. You may need to plan a transition or test out different options before you find a hybrid model to stick with long-term.
Want to motivate employees with great meals, from wherever they work? Create a meal program with Uber for Business and let your people get their favorites delivered right to their doorstep. You can also offer one-off vouchers for events and virtual meetings.
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