By Devon Maresco
Content Strategy Specialist
In the same way open offices and coworking did before it, the concept of hybrid workplaces has changed how people work. Just like these past revolutionary work concepts, it’s important we take the time to assess the pros and cons of hybrid workplaces. As they gain momentum companies and their employees need to understand the benefits, drawbacks, opportunities, and pitfalls associated with this new form of work.
A recap of hybrid workspaces
A hybrid workplace consists of both in-house employees and remote workers who work together as a distributed team. The hybrid workspace can take many forms as it pertains to a physical space. For example, many businesses adopted a hoteling model to accommodate an unknown daily capacity of in-house employees. Other companies evolved into more agile work environments that allow in-house workers to more easily adapt different workspaces based on their needs.
The advantages and disadvantages of the hybrid work model come from not only the structure of the workplace itself, but in how remote and on-site employees collaborate. While these solutions can vary across companies, the fundamentals of a hybrid model remain the same. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
The positives powering hybrid work
As you might expect from a new work model that’s quickly defined the professional landscape, there’s a lot to love about hybrid work. The benefits of hybrid work are many, for both employees and employers alike.
For employees, the biggest benefit of hybrid work is flexibility. Whether they work in-house, from home, or split their time between the two, a hybrid workplace supports them. It’s meant to bridge all gaps between different work styles, so a person can accomplish their job regardless of setting. This is especially important for companies scheduling on rolling shifts.
This seamless working experience goes all the way down to the workspace level. Hybrid work demands workspaces as flexible as the concept. Hotel desks, hot desks, breakout spaces, and the like are all essential in a supportive hybrid workplace. More than keeping the concept functional, they further promote employees to work in the fashion that best fits their needs.
From an employer standpoint, hybrid work offers powerful optimization opportunities. For example, ratio desking allows companies to operate with fewer desks than total employees, without depriving people of the space they need. Likewise, a dramatic shift to remote work and force portfolio consolidation, which can free up significant cash flow otherwise tied up in overhead.
These examples add up to some key, specific benefits that make hybrid workplaces a long-term prospect for today’s dynamic workforce:
- Offers the best of both on-site and off-site accessibility for employees
- Improves flexibility, agility, and optionality of the workplace
- More effective use and utilization of spaces and workstations
- Saved workplace and facility costs through more efficient use of space
- Improved employee experience, which can influence and improve culture
- Access to a broader talent pool when hiring or expanding
Negatives to beware of in hybrid workplaces
There are still a few kinks in the hybrid model that companies need to work through. It’s a proven, reliable solution to distributed teams and workforces, but there are some key drawbacks that can cause complications if not accounted for.
The biggest is lack of oversight. With some working remotely and those in-office employees flitting between different areas and workstations, companies give up a traditional sense of control. This is okay, so long as there’s a guiding hand to help employees develop good habits and understand new expectations. Social-emotional competency is vital for management, and good systems for communication are imperative.
Distractions are also something to be aware of. Employees used to the traditional work model of one desk and one task could find themselves both easily distracted and/or unsure of how to stay on-task. Companies can support these individuals with thoughtful workspace design and encourage employees to adapt their habits, rather than abandon them.
Finally, there need to be systems for bridging in-house to remote in all senses of the concept. Employee-to-employee communication. Access to , files, and technologies. The connection needs to be robust. Outside of employee preference, there can’t be any factors that make working in-house or remote any better than the alternative. Companies need to be mindful as they level the playing field, while simultaneously raising it.
Again, these examples add up to some clear-cut pitfalls. The good news is, many of them are avoidable with thoughtful design and management of hybrid workplaces:
- More difficult to communicate in real-time, especially between distributed teams
- Access to technology and applications may differ from office to home
- Employees may find it difficult to adapt or develop new habits
- Employees may feel alienated if not supported in their choice of work style
- Hybrid requires more processes of control to allow for freedoms in work
Why the hybrid model is here to stay
Simply put: because the benefits of the hybrid workplace outweigh the potential negatives. That and the fact that, for some employees, there’s no going back to a centralized workplace. Companies might’ve adopted a hybrid work model out of necessity due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s one that’s going to far outlast it as the new way to accommodate everyone unique work styles and preferences.
Keep Reading: Hybrid Workplaces are the Future of Work