A Guide to Understanding the Hybrid Office and How To Create One
As the workforce evolves, more and more businesses are considering a hybrid work model. There are many advantages to a hybrid model, and they include increased employee satisfaction, career opportunities, flexibility, productivity, and reduced stress levels.
The traditional, physical office space where employees come together to work has been the primary place of work for employees for many years. However, there are many different ways to work, and the office is no longer the only option. Employees now can work from home, from a coffee shop, or another office. These options have led to the development of the hybrid office.
The hybrid office allows employees to work from a physical space and gives them the flexibility to work from other locations.
What Is Hybrid Work?
A hybrid model is where office workers divide time between a physical office space and home. Hybrid teams can meet as a virtual team some days and in person the remaining days. This type of setup has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it allows employees more flexibility and reportedly leads to higher productivity in some cases.
Companies including Microsoft, Apple, and American Express are now pursuing a hybrid work model where remote workers will have several days of office experience each week.
How Did the Hybrid Office Come About?
Hybrid work arrangements are a response to the recent changes in the workforce and the way we work. There has been a shift towards remote work and intercultural communication in recent years. This change has led to the need for offices that can accommodate both in-office and remote employees. Covid-19 and the resulting lockdowns significantly accelerated this trend as companies adapted to many people suddenly becoming 100% remote.
This shift has had both positive and negative effects for employers and employees, and adjustments are still being made as the pandemic gradually recedes.
The hybrid environment is also a response to the preferences of employees. A study by FlexJobs found that, overall, most workers would prefer a hybrid-remote work environment. This number is higher for millennials, who make up most of the workforce.
Having set "office days" is becoming less popular, as employees would rather have the freedom to work from home sometimes and then come into the office for a few days as they need to. This hybrid workweek gives employees the best of both worlds and balances their work and personal lives more effectively.
How To Create a Productive Hybrid Workspace
There are a few things you can do to set up your hybrid office:
Evaluate Office Space:
When looking at your office space usage, it is essential to consider how employees will use it moving forward. For spaces to accommodate hybrid arrangements, you will want to accommodate both remote and in-person employees by having dedicated collaboration spaces for in-office and remote employees, quiet spaces for work, areas where teams can meet in person.
- Location: The office should be convenient, close to public transportation and other amenities.
- Size: The office should be large enough to accommodate all of your employees, with plenty of space for workstations and conference rooms.
- Facilities: The office should have a kitchen, bathrooms, and other facilities that your employees will need.
- Furniture: The office should have furniture that is comfortable and ergonomic.
- Technology: The office should have the latest technology, including a strong Wi-Fi signal, video conferencing capabilities, and ample workspace for laptops.
It is crucial to discover what your employees want in office space to create an environment that works for everyone. Employees may wish for private rooms for phone calls with remote team mates and meetings and communal areas for working with others in-person.
You may also want to consider investing in all-in-one software (instead of best-of-breed technology) to ensure that information is democratized across functions, and help remote and in-person employees collaborate effectively. The tools you use should be designed to work for both in-office and remote employees.
When creating a hybrid office, it is important to digitize your workplace. Digitization means having technology that allows remote and in-person employees to work together in the same space.
Implementing a digital check-in solution allows you to maximize the benefits of a hybrid workspace model by ensuring transparency and accountability. This fosters workplace equitability, builds unified company policies, and prevents instances of flexitime misuse and employee burnout. SwipedOn’s flexible workplace sign in system provides an innovative digital solution specifically designed to streamline office management operations.
Other examples include video conferencing software and collaboration software to share files and collaborate on projects.
Prioritize Employee Wellbeing:
Employee well-being and safety are two of the most important aspects of creating a successful hybrid office. With employees working remotely, you need to be sure that they have all the resources to be productive and safe.
These resources include a strong internet connection, adequate equipment, and a safe work environment. You also need to be sure that employees take breaks and get up from their desks regularly. Rewards and recognition programs are another way to show your employees that you care about their well-being, especially for employees who often may not meet face-to-face with other employees often.
Advantages of a Hybrid Workspace
There are several advantages to creating a hybrid office. Some of the most notable include:
Increased Employee Satisfaction and Career Opportunities:
Employees who can work from home may feel more valued and appreciated, leading to a more positive work environment and increased productivity. There is a need for the measurement of workplace satisfaction to manage a hybrid office effectively. When employees are happy with work, they are more productive and efficient. There are several ways to measure workplace satisfaction, including surveys, focus groups, and interviews. One way to measure satisfaction is to ask employees how they would prefer to work. A hybrid office allows people to work in a way that best suits them. They can choose to work from home some days or work in the office.
A hybrid office also offers career opportunities. Employees can move between the virtual and physical offices as their needs change. This flexibility allows employees to grow their careers and take on new challenges. Working from home can allow employees to take on new assignments or roles within the company that may not be available in their local office.
Greater Flexibility for Working Parents:
Parents with young children often find balancing work and family responsibilities challenging. A hybrid office can help solve this problem by allowing parents to work from home when necessary.
This flexibility can be beneficial for jobs that require a lot of travel or overnight stays.
Reduced Environmental Impact:
With more employees working from home, the need for office space decreases. This can lead to less traffic, reduced energy consumption, and fewer pollutants released into the atmosphere.
Reduced Stress Levels:
Working from home can also lead to decreased stress levels, as employees can avoid the noise and distractions of a traditional office and the stress and frustrations of a long commute every day. This change can benefit employees who suffer from anxiety or panic attacks.
A hybrid office can help reduce costs by allowing employees to work from home some of the time. This arrangement can save on things like office space and equipment.
Attracting Top Talent:
A hybrid office can help attract top talent by allowing employees to work from home. This option can be a significant draw for employees who want the flexibility to work from home sometimes.
The Challenges of a Hybrid Workspace
While there are many advantages to a hybrid office, some challenges come with setting one up. Some of these challenges include:
Managing Remote Workers:
Managing remote workers can be demanding to ensure they stay on task and are not working from home too much. It can be more difficult to track employee productivity if they are not working in a traditional office setting.
Employees may find it challenging to switch from working at home to working in a traditional office setting, which can cause increased stress that managers should address.
Creating a Cohesive Team:
Creating a cohesive team can be challenging in a hybrid office as employees may not all be in the office together. This separation can lead to communication issues and decreased productivity. There is a risk of employees becoming isolated if they work from home too often.
SwipedOn Pocket is an employee sign in app that allows staff to sign in contactlessly and also indicate whether they’re working in the office, remotely, or from an office in another location. You can keep track of the people in your building in real-time and know who is currently working off-site.
The office roaming functionality means you can manage employees working from a satellite office for the day, giving visibility and clarity of each team member's whereabouts.
In this new hybrid work era, the office’s primary function of providing a space for employees to come together and collaborate on projects is still relevant. However, how this is achieved has changed. It can be challenging to create an office culture in a hybrid office when employees are not all in the same place. Separation can lead to a lack of team spirit and decreased morale.
In the future, hybrid work arrangements will become more common as technology advances and people become more comfortable with working remotely. For now, however, it is important to be aware of the challenges that come with setting up a hybrid office. McLean & Company has valuable tools to help employees and managers navigate hybrid environments.