December 21, 2022 by Andrea Rajic

Hybrid Work Model: The Ultimate Guide

Hybrid Work Model: The Ultimate Guide

Table of contents


    What is hybrid work?


    Types of hybrid work


    The Benefits of a Hybrid Work Model


    Hybrid work challenges


    Key learnings on hybrid work


    How to implement the hybrid work model

Workplace Resources
Employee Experience

Are you wondering what the future of your office will look like? Many employees worldwide have already embraced remote work as the new normal, and they’re not going to give up on this perk. A recent survey showed that 39% of workers were even ready to quit their jobs if the employer required them to come back to the office full-time.

However, especially among executives, there are still people who don’t want to say their final goodbye to the office. A hybrid work model may be the answer that allows you to reconcile these differences and create a stimulating workplace that everyone will love. It sounds almost utopian, doesn’t it?

What is hybrid work?

Put simply, hybrid work is a work arrangement that combines working from a designated workspace (like an office) and working remotely. Depending on the company and its geographical distribution of employees, hybrid work can offer different degrees of flexibility in terms of location and working hours.

Post-pandemic, hybrid, and remote work has become the single most wanted perk for employees worldwide, due to the numerous benefits they provide, from better work-life balance to reduced commuting times.

Types of hybrid work

As we mentioned, hybrid work schedules can take many forms, as the model is still new to most companies out there, and they’re adjusting it to fit the needs of their employees. However, a couple of the most frequent hybrid work types are:

  • Remote-first model: Employees can come into the office whenever they want to, but there are no mandates.
  • Company-directed model: The company leadership assigns mandated days in the office by department
  • Manager-directed model: Managers assign when their teams will come into the office

The Benefits of a Hybrid Work Model

Hybrid employees love flexibility so much that they are willing to take pay cuts to keep it — or even switch jobs over it. To understand more about why that’s happening, dive into the core benefits hybrid work brings to both employees and companies:

1. Happier employees

Who doesn’t want their employees to be happy? Happy people perform better in the workplace, so providing your team members with the work options they want is undoubtedly a significant step.

In a Microsoft survey, 28% of respondents said they enjoyed working while their pets are nearby, keeping them company. Over 25% of them were also happy to spend more time at home with their kids.

Also, 36% of participants said they could bring their whole selves to work - because they’re closer to striking the work-life balance we all strive for. This means their teams and companies also experienced the benefits of high workplace morale - a win-win situation.

2. Increased productivity

A logical consequence of increased job satisfaction is enhanced productivity. More than half of the participants in a survey said they felt more productive when working from home, especially if they could take breaks.

The productivity rate typically increases with the possibility of working flexible hours, which are usually associated with remote work.

People can identify parts of the day when they feel energized and motivated and use them to do most of their work. More than 30% of people consider flexible hours one of the crucial benefits of working remotely.

3. Lower real estate costs

When it comes to the hybrid workplace, employers typically appreciate the reduced costs it implies. For example, with fewer employees present on site, you’ll have lower maintenance and utility expenses. You may even move to a smaller office that fits your new needs better, so your rent and other related costs may also be lower.

Many companies actually switch their workplace strategy from long-term office leases to flexible workspaces, as they give companies higher flexibility and provide significant cost savings while still providing hybrid teams with spaces for face-to-face encounters.

4. Access to the global talent pool

In 2020, the US faced a significant talent shortage. Almost 70% of employers claimed they were having a hard time hiring new employees — as it turns out, top talent is hard to find. Although many companies offer help with talent relocation, they should consider offering remote work opportunities whenever possible.

In 2023 and in the years to come, there’s no need to limit your access to talented people within a 20-mile radius. Hybrid and remote work allow you to build an international team where people from different backgrounds will bring fresh perspectives and expertise to your business.

5. Better work environment

Flexible working conditions enable employees from different cities, countries, and time zones to work together and work on a schedule they are most productive with, all while saving time on commuting and getting to spend it with their friends and family.

For hybrid companies, employee experience isn’t just confined to a workspace — it’s everything employees see and experience in their (sometimes virtual) workplace. And a competitively good employee experience strategy will help companies attract top talent and retain their best employees longer.

Hybrid work challenges

All the benefits we listed out don’t mean hybrid work comes without challenges. Similar to the office-first model, there are issues to tackle to provide an exceptional workplace experience:

1. A level playing field for remote and in-office employees

Opting for hybrid work may require you to pay special attention to maintaining the balance between remote and in-office employees. Remote employees may sometimes feel that they’re “out of sight, out of mind.”

Research done by MIT confirms that remote workers get raises and promotions less frequently than those who work at the office, which can be an issue. CEOs and People leaders need to work hard to ensure these discrepancies don’t happen and provide a level playing field for all employees.

2. Higher chances of burnout

When you work in an office, you simply leave it at the end of your shift and typically don’t think about work until the following day. That’s a bit hard to achieve when you’re working from home. Remote workers tend to overwork themselves, which often leads to burnout, not to mention the fact that some remote teams have twice as many meetings as before the pandemic.

Helping your employees by establishing employee wellbeing strategies is a good solution. For example, gym memberships can help them have enough physical activity, and informal chats, flexible working hours, and psychological support can be crucial for improving their mental health.

3. Exuding company culture

Your company policy may be more challenging to reinforce when your team is dispersed around the globe or even the country. The days when your employees come to the office may become a burden if you only focus on maintaining the company culture.

A reconsideration of your company culture may be a logical consequence of such shifts in the workplace. Are there some policies you can remove or adjust? You can help your remote workers stay in touch with the company culture by emphasizing the core values and the mission of your company and helping them understand their role even when they’re outside the office.

4. Communication issues

Video conferencing and communication tools have their limits. When seeing someone’s face on the screen (if they choose to turn on the camera), you’re deprived of their body language and overall energy during the chat. And things may be even more challenging when you’re only chatting on Slack: you can’t even hear the tone in which something is said.

Another challenge may be to determine what amount of communication is right. Managers may feel the need to check up on their workers more often as they can’t see them, making them feel micromanaged.

The key may be setting boundaries and establishing communication ground rules. A good tip here would be to revamp your internal communication strategy as if your company was fully remote. This way, you’ll achieve a level playing field for remote and in-office employees and prepare your workforce for the future of work.

5. Creating connections at work

Remote workers cite feeling disconnected from their teams as the single most significant challenge at work, and this particular challenge is where a hybrid work policy can help. Meeting in person one or two days every week can help teams build trust and relationships faster and improve employee engagement.

Whether you use offices or coworking spaces, in-person meetings can serve as a helpful team-building tool, as that seems to be the new role of physical workspaces. As a result, teams who organize meetings and offsites on a regular basis feel more engaged.

Key learnings on hybrid work

For most companies, hybrid work is still a work in progress, and they are learning along the way. Here are some learnings from that process:

  • Office spaces now have a new purpose. Instead of being places people go to do work, they have become spaces for connection and collaboration.
  • Office work now means many different things. Even when people get together in a physical space, they require different layouts from those they had before. A typical on site workday now includes jumping between meeting rooms, phone booths, and collaboration areas.
  • Companies should treat workplace experience as a product and employees like customers. Figuring out what works best for your team isn’t always straightforward, and it will certainly change over time. Being open to iteration and evolution of your workplace strategy is the way to go if you want to build, scale, and connect your hybrid teams.

How to implement the hybrid work model

Implementing hybrid work in your organization will require a thorough workplace transformation process, but here are a few tips to speed it up:

  • Take feedback from employees. The best shortcut to a great work experience for hybrid and remote teams is asking them what they need and getting their pulse regularly. Start doing engagement surveys, 1-on-1 check-ins, and pulse surveys for your employees.
  • Emphasize wellbeing and work-life balance. Be intentional about your employee wellness initiatives, and offer desirable perks and benefits as incentives for your hybrid employees.
  • Create a good mix of in person and remote work. Boost teamwork and collaboration in your remote teams with a healthy balance of face-to-face encounters and virtual work. Take your team’s pulse on this topic, and let them decide on the best cadence to meet IRL.
  • Use the right tools. Identify which HR tech tools your People team would most benefit from, and explore the endless options on the market. A bonus tip: try to find a few apps that work holistically with others, and build a solid, 360 HR tech stack.

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Written By

Andrea Rajic


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