Innovative organizations are increasingly embracing a hybrid model — one that combines the flexibility of working from home with the social connection and collaboration of the office environment. But what does that mean to your organization?
What possibilities do you have, and how can you successfully implement hybrid work model? Let's take a look at how you can create a hybrid work model that empowers your workforce and drives business growth.
What is hybrid work?
Hybrid work is a way of working that blends in-office time with work from home or remote locations. Hybrid work reflects the understanding that "your culture is not just your office," says Deniz Caglar, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "It's what you do as an organization, how you work together.
A hybrid work model should support the activities employees have to do. For some people, focus work might be easier to complete from home, while collaborative work and team meetings are more effective at the office. Mapping this out for different roles in your organization gives you a great starting point for your hybrid work model.
Types of hybrid work models
Hybrid work models exist along a spectrum. So once you've mapped the activities your workforce does, it's time to create a hybrid work model that supports your people. At one end are fully remote teams who rarely if ever meet in person. At the other are fully in-office teams in which remote work days are a rarity. Let's look at how hybrid work can be done in practice.
During the pandemic, many leading companies like Atlassian, Dropbox, Slack, and Shopify implemented permanent remote work arrangements. Remote-first companies offer fully remote workplaces, with employees spread across many different locations and communicating through hybrid meetings and collaboration tools.
At remote-first companies, in-office days are at will. Employees can choose whether to come into the office based on what they need on any given day. This model gives employees flexibility for times when they need to meet a coworker or find a quiet space to get some focused work done.
In 2020, many companies with existing flexible work arrangements increasingly moved to a mix of WFH and office time. In this model, certain days are designated as in-office days for meetings and collaborative work, while others are remote days when employees can do work requiring deep focus.
Organizations have a variety of options for structuring an activity based model. Some teams may choose to give firm guidelines, for example scheduling Monday and Wednesday as in-office days. Others may offer more flexible arrangements, for example requiring employees to come into the office twice a week on days of their choice.
Pre-pandemic, the most common remote working arrangement was office-first. In this model, companies maintained the office as the primary workplace while allowing a limited amount of remote work.
Companies using this arrangement typically allow a small amount of remote work time — for example, an employee might work one day a week from home, while working in the office the rest of the week. Some companies also require most of their employees to work fully in-office, while allowing certain team members to be fully remote if certain requirements are met.
Workplace concepts for hybrid working
The way people divide their time between remote locations and the office, can be supported in different workplace concepts. Let's take a look into the most trending ones: hot desking and desk hoteling.
Hot desking: first-come, first-served
Hot desking is a flexible workplace strategy where employees do not have assigned seats and choose where they sit on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no formal reservation system in hot desking, which offers little ability to track desk availability, use history or cleanliness. On the employee side, it is not one of the most preferred ways of working either. One of the biggest concerns about hot desking from employees is finding space near their colleagues, or finding a preferred spot in general. Hot desking becomes even more difficult if you have fewer desks than people.
Desk hoteling: pre-book your workplace
Desk hoteling allows employees to reserve desks or meeting rooms in advance, so they can work in their ideal space. This also allows for implementation of better sanitization and social distancing practices. You can see what percentage of desks are reserved and vacant on any given day and plan accordingly. However, once at the office, most employees keep their desk for the entire day, which might deteriorate the sense of flexible work.
What workplace concept should you consider?
We’d recommend a combination. First of all, when people come to the office, they might want to spend time with their team. Desk hoteling is a great way to let teams align their days in the office and find a place to work together. Especially for larger teams, this is worth pre-booking. However, as you’re embracing flexibility, you might want to leave some areas free for ad-hoc activities. Depending on the activities your employees do when they’re at the office, we’d recommend to make 70% of your desks pre-bookable, and leave 30% for hotdesking.
For very flexible teams, pre-booking workspaces in a preferred area could also be a possibility. When they arrive at the office, they can pick any free desk in that area.
Tools for hybrid working
Implementing the latest hybrid working trends won't just change how your team gets things done — it will transform your workplace. Technology can support relationships between people working remotely and people in the office.
Scheduling in-office days, helping employees connecting with their colleagues, and managing visitors all become easier with the right hybrid working tools.
Desk booking tools make it easy for your team to plan days in the office. Mapiq empowers your team to reserve a desk within their floor or area, so they have full flexibility without encouraging claiming behavior over a preferred workspace. This tool is great for the earlier mentioned desk hoteling workplace concept.
With room booking, your team can easily see which meeting spaces are available in real time — so they can quickly grab a meeting room to discuss ideas or plan a project at a moment's notice.
Help your team make the most of their in-office days. With social connections, your team can see who's coming to the office when — and avoid the frustration of being the only one in the office.
Nothing's more frustrating than wandering all over the building in search of your team. With colleague finding, you can stop wandering — and see at a glance where your colleagues are working.
Tools for workplace management
Before workplace analytics, setting your office capacity was a gambling game. Workplace technology gives you the right information at the right time for data-driven decisions. With Mapiq, you can easily adjust the capacity of every area of your office based on employee's needs.
Control supply and demand
With Mapiq, you can easily view historical and real-time data on shifts booked in the office and monitor demand for workspaces and meeting rooms. Scale up or down based on your actual office usage, and make space investments based on actual data.
Analyze workplace occupancy trends
By drawing on workplace data, you can transform your workspace to improve productivity. Use analytics to stay on top of the areas employees use most often, respond to changing needs, and build a workspace that helps your team work at their best.
Benefits of hybrid working
The pandemic has learned us that once employees are given more flexible work arrangements, they are embracing them. Let's take a look at the benefits hybrid work models can offer.
Freedom of choice
Hybrid work models offer employees more autonomy about when and where they want to work. While the traditional 9-to-5 model demands that workers organize the rest of their lives around time spent at work, the hybrid model gives employees freedom to decide how work should fit into their lives.
According to a recent PWC study about employee preferences in regards to remote work, more than half wanted to continue working at least three days a week from home. And a recent Microsoft survey confirms this, finding that 73% of workers want to continue working from home after the pandemic, while 67% also want more in-person time with their coworkers. Hybrid working arrangements offer more collaboration and social interaction than a fully remote work concept, while offering more freedom and individual choice than traditional in-office arrangements.
More freedom means more flexibility. In a hybrid work model, employees can choose to do work when they're most productive, so early birds and night owls can both choose work schedules that work for them.
Employees also appreciate having the option to work from a location of their choosing. For example, some members of your team might work alone from a home office on tasks requiring deep focus. Others may prefer to work from coffee shops or co-working spaces. And parents might choose to work from the office to get in a few productive hours away from the kids.
A hybrid work model refocuses the workplace culture on productivity, not just attendance. In a productivity-focused culture, employees have more discretion about how they spend their day and are judged based on outcomes. Supervisors can no longer consistently monitor employee behavior throughout the day, so they must hold employees accountable for consistently delivering results and meeting performance objectives.
Most employees prefer this arrangement. In a BCG survey on employees who went remote in 2020, 75% reported improved productivity with their individual tasks — but only about half reported that moving collaborative tasks online led to productivity gains.
For many organizations, one of the most attractive features of the hybrid work models is cost savings. Research by Global Workplace Analytics found that on the average, employers stand to save $11,000 annually for every in-office employee who moves to a half-time remote work arrangement.
Many leading corporations are moving quickly to streamline their workplaces. Lloyds Banking Group reports plans to cut office space by 20%, while HSBC says it will shrink office space by 40%. And Chase CEO Jamie Dimon declared that the organization plans to significantly reduce in-office capacity by as much as 40%.
How industry leaders are moving to hybrid work
Hybrid work models are as diverse as the companies that implement them. Here are a few examples from industry leaders that are paving the way to the hybrid future.
Spotify: Working From Anywhere
Spotify overhauled its office space to offer more flexible working options to team members. The company introduced a Work From Anywhere program with the main belief that "work isn't something you come to the office for, it's something you do". According to Sonya Simmons, Head of Workplace Design, the goal was to create more “collaboration areas and focus areas — including quiet rooms — where more heads-down, noise and distraction-free work can be conducted, [as well as] adding more phone booths, designed for one or two people to hop in [and] out of for a quick call or huddle.”
Kissflow: a REMOTE+ model
Kissflow, a provider of digital workplace services, pioneered a flexible work model called REMOTE+ inspired by the hybrid work model. At Kissflow, the organization has given the freedom for teams to choose between hybrid work or in-office. Employees who are not from the city are encouraged to move back to their hometowns to reduce expenses, strengthen family/social bonds, and contribute to the local community.
Suresh Sambandam, CEO of Kissflow said: "We strongly believe it’s a quantum shift in mindset, and the workplace as we know it. The REMOTE+ work model could also be an answer to lop-sided development that unfairly favored urban geographies until now.”
IBM: supporting the needs of families
Recognizing the needs of remote employees balancing work and family commitments, IBM created its Work from Home Pledge. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna pledged to support employees in meeting personal needs while working remotely, for example by allowing flexibility to meet personal obligations during the day, not requiring employees to be on camera during hybrid meetings, and shifting to shorter video calls to prevent Zoom fatigue.
Other companies have followed IBM’s lead. For example, the Broad Institute, a partnership of Harvard and MIT that focuses on using genomics to treat human disease, offers subsidized daycare along with an in-house child care center to offer parents a variety of options to help balance family obligations while working from home.
HSBC and Lloyds: transforming the office
Leading financial institutions HSBC and Lloyds are planning for the Future of Work by reimagining their workspaces for greater flexibility and collaboration. At HSBC, executive office spaces are being redesigned into flexible workspaces and collaboration spaces. Lloyds is following the trend, by converting extra space in its branches into common work areas. The employees are supported by smart tools where they can reserve their preferred areas and desks.
Hybrid work brings new challenges, but companies that leverage workplace technology can take advantage of unprecedented opportunities: raising employee satisfaction to new heights, unlocking increased productivity, and reducing real estate costs.
Hybrid working models offer employees what they want most: the freedom to work how, where, and when they want. Today's workplace technology empowers people to choose how they do their best work. And that means everyone on your team can make the choices that are right for them.
Some may thrive being in the office most days. Others may prefer to spend more time working remotely. With workplace technology, your entire team will be smarter, happier — and more likely to stay with you.