Nearly everything you need to know about the hybrid work model, including research-backed insights, tips, and strategies.
A hybrid work model allows some employees to work on-site while others work from different locations (home, or anywhere else).
The hybrid work model is the future of the workplace. This model involves adapting work to how teams operate best and creating experiences that are as inclusive and reach as many people as possible.
With this model, organizations act like a remote-first company. Employees are distributed across different countries and time zones and online communication is the default. Organizations keep their offices for employees to work from if they choose, and the office is generally seen as a place for collaboration. Certain employees might be expected to come to the office if necessary for their role.
With the office-occasional hybrid work model, employees go to the office a few times a week. The office is a place for both collaboration and individual work. Depending on the organization, employees might be expected to come on specific days of the week (for example, every Monday and Wednesday), or at least one day a week of their choice.
This was a common model prior to COVID-19, where working from the office is the default and some employees work remotely. With this model, remote workers often feel like second-class citizens as they miss out on conversations, opportunities, and connections that take place for the majority of employees working on-site.
A hybrid model can offer flexibility and empower employees to work to their strengths, which in turn boosts productivity. By encouraging a culture that views remote work as a positive alternative to completing deep-focus tasks in the office, teams can find a good balance of creativity and collaboration. Employees who need peace and quiet to focus or who thrive in an office setting can be given the choice to work where and when they’re most productive.
Autonomy is the key to employee satisfaction: If you provide full autonomy and decision-making on how, where, and when your team members work, employee satisfaction will skyrocket.
The beauty of the hybrid work model is that employees can choose to work whenever they please, meaning they can schedule time for learning and improvement more easily than if they were fully remote or office workers.
While work and life may rarely be in perfect balance, work-life fit is a vital aspect of any healthy working environment. And hybrid work enables each employee to fit their work and life together in a way that works for them. This reduces stress and helps prevent burnout.
Reducing the need for people to commute to work can dramatically reduce your company’s carbon footprint. When employees can spend more time at home or commute shorter distances to work from local cafés or co-working spaces, you can help ease congestion on cities’ traffic.
Companies can save about $11,000 for each employee that works in a hybrid manner, according to an EY study. And employees also appreciate saving on public transportation, gas, and lunches out when working from home.
Most companies built workforce policies around in-person employees, and now wonder how to find the right balance between on-site and off-site workers. The best way to craft a hybrid work policy that works for your organization is to make decisions together with the company. Everyone has different preferences for how and when they’d like to work—listen, understand, and accommodate those preferences. Agree on the new role of the office together.
The biggest challenge with hybrid work is not feeling connected to colleagues, according to a Howspace survey. To create meaningful connections at work, foster more spontaneous interactions, and keep the social aspect in mind in all meetings with check-in and check-out questions. Having a shared virtual space where employees can communicate with each other, share ideas, support one another, and feel part of a community is key.
The most successful companies have a strong organizational culture based on commonly shared values that are supported by strategy and structure. When it comes to planning new hybrid arrangements, make sure they accentuate your company’s values and support its culture. Work together with everyone in the company to create a new work model that’s engaging, fair, inspiring, and meaningful. Nurture constant feedback and engage employees through continual dialogue. By increasing feelings of psychological safety, trust, and of belonging to something important, you’ll strengthen the best parts of your company culture.
Many employers have underlying “proximity bias”, meaning they believe on-site employees are more productive than remote employees. Remote workers can be affected by other types of bias too, like affinity bias, attribution bias, and gender bias. We all have biases, so it’s not a failure to admit these to ourselves or our team. Don’t be afraid to challenge your own assumptions and adjust your mindset. Promote open dialogue and enable difficult conversations. One way to promote open expression is by allowing employees to share their opinions anonymously.
Virtual meetings are playing too heavy of a role as part of hybrid work. We need to learn new ways of working where not all working hours are sent in back-to-back meetings and the ‘real work’ is done on weekends and evenings. This can be done by adapting a facilitator’s mindset—understanding how human relationships work and designing the work to best suit these habits and needs. We can take an exploratory approach and ask ourselves “How can I best accomplish this goal?” rather than automatically booking a meeting, for example.
Hybrid learning is a learning method where some participants are physically present in a shared space, while others join virtually at the same time.
Very few organizations do not aspire to be “learning organizations”—i.e. organizations with an innate capability to learn and evolve in an agile way. That’s why it's crucial for every organization to also focus on learning in the hybrid era.
When planning your organizational learning and training programs, consider:
Why not take the hybrid learning approach if you can? If some participants are able and willing to join in person and you have the budget and means to make that work, then go for it.
To ensure remote participants feel heard and involved, organize everything in such a way that they are top of mind. Put away the Sharpies and post-it notes, and plan all collaborative work like brainstorming, answering questions, and submitting tasks to be done digitally—whether people are in the classroom or joining remotely. All participants can use their phones or laptops and work within the same online platform.
One facilitator can take the lead with the in-person participants, and another can focus on the remote participants. This way, both groups will receive the needed guidance and get timely answers to their questions.
For virtual and hybrid workshops, a whole new mindset is required. Don’t be afraid to let go of content that worked for exclusively in-person sessions, but that doesn’t serve learners in a hybrid environment. For example, you might have previously run three-day training programs to maximize the time of those travelling to be there. But can you rethink that model?
Since group work is key to engage people, you don’t want to drop it in the hybrid environment. For synchronous break-out sessions, having separate groups for remote and in-person participants will make things a lot easier. When doing so, make sure that all participants record their work in the same online platform. That way, neither group will miss out on each other’s learnings.
To succeed in the hybrid work model and collaborate effectively remotely, we need a mix of tools for video conferencing, whiteboarding, note-taking and productivity, file storage and sharing, and more.
It’s important to ensure that employees have all the necessary tools and equipment to get their work done remotely. In the hybrid setting, you’ll need screens and microphones so that remote participants can be heard and also properly hear what those in-person are discussing.
While several tools are needed in a hybrid work environment, Howspace is the only tool available that allows you to facilitate a dialogue. It was built specifically for digital facilitation, and you can do almost everything listed above, all on a single platform.
If you want to see how Howspace can help you work in the hybrid environment, open your trial workspace today! It's completely free and you don't need a credit card.
We put together this ebook, including our original research, to help you make a smooth transition to hybrid work and effectively engage people in different environments.