By Devon Maresco
More people than ever before are working remotely. But not everyone is logging in from a home office. Some people still prefer the structure of a physical workplace, and will gladly get up and go to one each day. The result of this duality is a hybrid workplace: one that supports both remote and on-site employees. It’s a concept that pre-dated COVID-19, but came to fruition largely because of it. Now, hybrid workplaces are here to stay.
Forced to make it work during the pandemic, companies and their employees have begun to get their bearings and figure things out. Patchwork fixes, stopgaps, and workarounds have congealed into new processes and permanent solutions that allow remote workers to be as productive as their in-office counterparts. Better still, the adoption of a hybrid work model has given time for distributed teams to learn to work together.
Hybrid workplaces are still in flux, but they’re becoming a much more permanent reality. What’s certain is their staying power. Now that people can work the way that is best for them, there’s no going back.
What is the hybrid workplace?
A hybrid office supports both in-house and remote employees at the same time, and offers flexibility for ebb and flow between these two work styles. It’s a concept that encompasses both physical and digital workspaces, as well.
The goal of the hybrid workplace is to support every work style and every employee—especially when these variables are inconsistent. Can Sanjay work effectively in-house today and continue his work tomorrow from home? If Marsha usually works from home and needs to come back in-house for a week, will she find the work environment she needs? These questions—and dozens more like them—are what facility managers ask as they plan for the new norm of flex work.
Hybrid workplaces can take many forms and feature many systems of governance. Hoteling is the most popular because it offers checks and balances companies can use to manage their workers, yet still offers employees optionality. Other hybrid examples include hot desks, desk neighborhoods, flex spaces, and more. No matter how it’s comprised, the hybrid workspace is one that’s wholly supportive of every employee’s work style.
Why are hybrid workspaces quickly becoming the new norm for companies big and small? It’s because there are benefits for employees and businesses alike.
How does the hybrid office affect employees?
For employees, the hybrid office offers a seamless experience that’s conducive to flex work styles. In-house or remote, single work or group work, no matter the variables, the hybrid office delivers.
- Employees have the option to choose their workspace or desk type
- Freedom of movement in the office makes transitioning between tasks easier
- Mobility makes it easier for employees to work independent or as a group
- More autonomy for employees can result in better work habits and practices
- Employees feel empowered to make decisions about how or when they work
- The transition between in-office and at-home work is more fluid and simpler
The bottom line on hybrid office benefits for employees is more freedom and the ability to work comfortably. Whether they work at home, in-office, or split their time, they’ll have the support they need to do their best work at all times.
How does the hybrid work model affect businesses?
On the business side, a hybrid work model offers an abundance of cost-saving benefits, as well as management opportunities that improve workspace utilization. Some of the core benefits of a well-run hybrid workplace include:
- Better space utilization and reclamation of unused space from traditional desking
- More productive workforce that feels supported and trusted in their work style
- Improved workplace safety during times of disruption (illness, renovations, etc.)
- Fewer disruptions to work caused by an inflexible workplace concept
- Saved costs associated with less strain on or demand for unnecessary facilities
- Opportunities to cultivate a more modern, inclusive culture and workforce
The practical benefits of hybrid workplaces for businesses become evident in gains to productivity, the bottom line, and the company culture. Less rigidity in the business model opens the door for more flexible avenues of growth.
Hybrid workplaces will continue to evolve
We haven’t figured out hybrid workplaces completely yet, but we’re further along than we were at the outset of the pandemic. As new processes connect remote workers to on-site staff, the hybrid workplace will continue to evolve. Hybrid workplaces offer plenty of opportunity for adaptation, which is a boon to businesses and employees alike. Embracing a hybrid concept may well be what enables businesses to remain nimble in the face of future hardship or—perish the thought—another pandemic.
Keep reading: 8 Apps for Remote Workers Productivity and Success