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Hybrid Models & Definitions

What is Hybrid Work? A Definitive Overview

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The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reshaped how we work, forcing organizations worldwide to adopt remote work models almost overnight. As vaccination rates increased and restrictions eased, many companies began transitioning towards a hybrid work model, combining the best aspects of remote and in-office work. But what is hybrid remote work? In this guide, we will delve into the concept of hybrid work and the meaning behind it and provide practical guidance on establishing an effective hybrid work setup for your company.

What Is Hybrid Work?

Hybrid work is a working model that allows employees to split their time between working remotely and working in person at a physical office or other location. Hybrid working provides flexibility and empowers employees to choose where and when they work while still fostering a sense of connection and collaboration among team members. Unlike fully remote work, hybrid work promotes a blended approach that seeks to optimize productivity, employee satisfaction, and work-life balance.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic changed the workplace game by necessity, a large number of companies around the world have adopted fully remote or hybrid work policies. As of 2023, 26% of full-time employees worldwide work using a hybrid model, combining both in-home and in-office work. Whether to implement a hybrid model is a strategic decision each company must make for itself. In many cases, it's more expensive to avoid adopting a hybrid work model.

In the three-plus years since the pandemic made remote and hybrid work a necessity, companies have come up with several variations of hybrid work schedules. In fact, over half (52%) of US employers operate under a hybrid work model. Some organizations offer a fully flexible hybrid work schedule, in which employees have the autonomy to work entirely from home, the workplace, or a combination of the two. Other companies prefer to implement a structured hybrid work schedule, in which they expect employees to work from the office at set times while also providing some flexibility to work remotely.

For more information about the ins and outs of hybrid work, check out our Definitive Guide to Flexible Work Terminology.

Best Practices for Implementing a Hybrid Work Model

Now that we understand the definition of hybrid work let's explore some best practices for effectively implementing this model in the workplace.

Survey Your Organization.

While some of your employees may prefer to work in the office, others may have become accustomed over the past few years to the flexibility of working remotely. By conducting a quick survey of your organization, you will reveal trends that can inform your customized approach to the hybrid workplace that will best meet your organization's various needs.

Questions to include in your survey

  • How many days a week would you prefer to work in the office?
  • How important to your work is in-person collaboration?
  • How important is it to you to have your own dedicated desk when you work from the office?
  • How important is it to you that there are mandatory days every week when everyone works in the office?
  • Do you have the resources and technology to work remotely?

Define Your Hybrid Workplace

After conducting your survey, you should better understand what your employees want from a hybrid work arrangement. This should help you decide what kind of hybrid company you want to be.

To help with that decision, let's compare the various styles of hybrid work.

Flexible work

This style places a high value on face-to-face interactions. In a flexible work arrangement, employees most commonly work in person. Remote work is very uncommon, and management approves it on a case-by-case basis. Pre-pandemic, flexible work was most common within industries featuring significant client-facing activities.

Local hybrid

This work style balances two principles:

  • The belief that organizational productivity and workplace culture depend on in-person collaboration among employees, and
  • Giving employees the flexibility to decide where they perform most of their work overall.

Remote-friendly hybrid

A remote-friendly hybrid arrangement leverages the flexibility of a hybrid workplace in expanding talent acquisition reach while still preserving opportunities for in-person collaboration among some team members.

Remote only

In this work style, employees work entirely from home. These companies traditionally have a legacy of remote-friendly work, which allowed them to thrive as fully-remote throughout the pandemic.

Create a Comprehensive Hybrid Work Policy

Your hybrid work policy should outline the guidelines, expectations, and benefits of your hybrid work model of choice. Ensure all employees can access the policy and encourage open feedback.

Take a look at these Scoop guides on how to manage a hybrid work policy:

Rethink Your Office Space

Once you determine what type of hybrid work strategy best suits your organization, it's time to reassess your real estate situation and create the right workplace for your company.

Invest in how your organization plans to use its space.

If your workplace will primarily be used for collaboration, consider swapping out traditional desks for additional hands-on spaces like conference rooms or communal seating areas.

Be sure you have the right amount of space.

Reduced capacity and less office usage in a hybrid workplace may allow your company to downsize its physical office investment. It's time to consider right-sizing your office space investment to be sure you have enough (but not too much) space for everyone.

Track how your office space usage changes over time.

You may better understand how employees utilize your office space if you consider investing in a system to track and understand who comes into the office and on what days.

Optimize your office design.

Check out our handy guide on Post-Pandemic Office Design for the Hybrid Workplace.

Make a Communication Plan.

Transparent communication is critical to ensuring all employees stay informed and engaged, regardless of their work location. Companies must prioritize clear and inclusive communication, providing equitable access to information and opportunities for remote and in-office workers alike.

Effective hybrid work relies on a synchronized workflow that enables team members to collaborate efficiently across different locations. Employers should establish clear protocols and guidelines to ensure seamless integration between remote and in-office work processes.

That said, robust communication and collaboration tools are the backbone of a thriving hybrid working environment. Companies should invest in reliable video conferencing, instant messaging, project management, and document-sharing platforms to ensure seamless interaction among remote and in-office teams.

Remember, over-communication is the key to improving hybrid workplace communication!

Embracing the Future of Work: Thriving with Hybrid Work

As the global workforce enters the post-COVID era, hybrid work has emerged as a powerful solution combining remote and in-office work benefits. By adopting best practices and fostering a culture of communication and flexibility, you can effectively implement a successful hybrid work model within your organization. Embracing hybrid work not only improves employee satisfaction and productivity but also positions companies to thrive in the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of the modern workforce.

Remember, successfully implementing a hybrid work model requires adaptability, responsiveness, and a commitment to nurturing a collaborative and inclusive work environment. Businesses can take full advantage of the hybrid work model's potential by empowering employees with choice and leveraging technology to connect teams. As the future of work unfolds, embracing this flexible approach can lead to a more engaged, productive, and successful team.

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