By Gyzel Pialat, Digital Lead,

In early 2020, Covid-19 changed our lives in a way that few could ever have foreseen. In a business and work-life sense, employees around the world had to detach from their previous routines and get settled in a new rhythm. Remote work was the instruction, and whilst some found it hard to adjust, the overwhelming majority seemed to enjoy saying goodbye to the commute, to office attire, to office politics, and to sitting at a desk all day.

We’re now at the point where businesses want to welcome back their workers to the office, but that isn’t going down as well as they thought. Many remote workers have gotten used to the flexibility and comfort of working from home, and so it’s time for compromise. That compromise is known as the ‘Hybrid Working’ model.

What is the Hybrid Working model?

It’s quite simple really, it’s a working style that empowers employees to do their work from home, on the move, or from the office. They are trusted with the responsibility of fulfilling their work duties from different locations, and in return are given greater autonomy and flexibility.

Those who champion the Hybrid Working model argue that happy workers are high-performing workers, and more positive work relationships are formed when you don’t spend 40 hours a week sharing a stressful environment. Employees are encouraged to create their own effective work habits, set daily productivity targets, and do their finest work without being chained to a desk.

Who implements the hybrid working model and why?

It’s the job of senior management and business leaders to work with their Human Resources department to figure out whether the Hybrid Working system can suit the demands of the business. These HR managers also need to look at each of the individual roles and responsibilities within the organization and who fills them, and decide who is well-positioned to work from home, and who is needed in person. For example, a new employee with minimal experience may be better off working more in person, whereas an experienced employee with health issues, a long commute, or younger children, may benefit from more time working at home.

By considering business and individual needs alongside each other, organizations can retain their best talents, increase productivity, and create better engagement with their workers (who really want to work there). Staff can also engage better with each other because in general, people don’t like in-person meetings all the time. Now, thanks to video calling, messaging tools, intranet systems, project management software, and social media, employees can synergise and collaborate without having to sit around the same table.

There are other benefits to applying a Hybrid Working model, such as reducing your overheads. Think about it, fewer employees in the office means a downsize is possible and rental savings can be achieved. There are fewer office supplies and sundry expenses, cleaners and other building costs too. Employees can also live further from the office in more affordable neighbourhoods, making personal savings and enjoying more of their salary.

What about company culture?

The best company cultures are the ones that prioritize their employees and their customers over their profits. The Hybrid Work model certainly places more emphasis on employees, not only giving them more autonomy, time, and flexibility but also providing new opportunities for support. When millions were forced to work from home, many businesses invested in special hardware, desks, furniture, and entertainment for their employees.

To encourage a positive, fluid, and dynamic company culture without having employees in the same place, some companies began to approach their workers as individuals, rather than as departments or roles. This meant 1-on-1 meetings, regular scrums or huddles, and individual praise for meeting objectives.

How to start integrating the Hybrid Working model?

Now, here’s what you came here to find out – how to implement a hybrid working model in your business. We’ve tried to make this information as simple and actionable as possible.

  • Start by bringing the HR managers, senior management, and C-level individuals together to discuss the facts
  • Draft a Hybrid Workplace policy that explains who, how, why, when, and where regarding the new working style. Ask for feedback and note that the draft is a work in progress
  • Introduce ‘Hot Desking’ to your office. This is where nobody owns their desk, and they can reserve them before coming to work. This detaches people from the idea that they need their desk to work at and encourages better use of time and space
  • Ensure your business has the right tools for the job. Asana, Slack, Hubspot, a custom-built intranet – they can all help to facilitate collaboration, recognise excellence, and keep in touch
  • Consider the fairness in the treatment of those working at home or in the office. If those in the office get meal vouchers, what can those working from home get?
  • Define a system for 1-on-1 meetings, how frequent they will be and in what format

Are there any downsides to be wary of?

We might be a little biased on this subject because we love the whole Hybrid Work movement, but there are a few negatives that we should be transparent about. Ultimately, though, each of these can be creatively mitigated.

  • The client experience suffers – with no contact between accounts and employees, some clients may look elsewhere for a more personal touch with their consultations. The solution is to ask your accounts to support your transition period and give the new method a try
  • Some employees become isolated – remote work doesn’t suit everyone. Some people need coffee chats, stories, personal interactions, handshakes, smiles, and just generally being around others. You can’t bounce ideas off yourself in the same way, but if you are feeling isolated, you simply need to make more use of the Hybrid Work side of things, by going to the office more or finding others who feel the same to share with
  • Cyber attacks are more likely – when you’re changing locations, accessing different wi-fi networks, using new software and systems, and basically doing any business on your personal device, you become way more vulnerable to attack. This can be easily navigated by giving employees a separate work computer, fitting it with proper IT security solutions, and retraining staff about cyber protocols
  • Office politics continue, without the office – unfortunately, this can happen. For example, the employees who come to the office are seen as more loyal, those at home as seen as lazy, the camaraderie is gone and people fall into new cliques, and suddenly a new form of office politics is born. Clear communication on new hybrid culture is key to solving this one
  • Over-productivity or under-productivity – some people who were forced to do remote work suddenly found that they could do minimal work and watch Netflix all day. Others, without a manager or supervisor around, had no way to measure how hard they were working, so they worked too hard and got burned out. Solving this really depends on objective-setting and KPIs

So, knowing all of the above, do you think your company could take advantage of and implement a hybrid working model, or would it struggle to survive the challenges?

Partner content