Covid-19 has forced companies across the globe to re-evaluate the way that their businesses operate and how their employee’s work is done. And now, just as employers began welcoming back their workforce to in-person work, the recent, rapid spread of the Delt and Omicron variants have taught us that flexibility in the workplace is an absolute necessity. With that said, when it comes to flexible work, it has become clear that having a hybrid working environment is the preferred option for employees and employers moving forward.
The Hybrid Office
Simply put, a hybrid modality allows employees to split their time working from home and from the traditional office. Each company must first decide how a hybrid work environment can be adopted to meet their specific needs, but the transition to a hybrid modality typically involves breaking away from the 1:1 desk ratio, and instead embracing an agile environment where hot desking and multi-use spaces are prevalent.
Technology and business writer Kevin Casey, writing for The Enterprisers Project, an online community and online publication helping CIOs and IT leaders, authored an informative piece entitled, “What is a Hybrid Work Model?” According to Casey, “Another way to look at hybrid work is as an effort to create a best-of-everything operational model. Just as there are benefits of working remotely, there is an upside for some people and teams in regularly collaborating in person. Hybrid work models, then, attempt to achieve the positives of both paradigms.”
Not One-Size Fits All
The major benefit of a hybrid model is that there is no one-size-fits-all way to do it. This allows for each company to put together a hybrid environment that works best for their individual circumstances. Some of the world’s best known companies have adopted a hybrid approach, including the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Spotify, just to name a few.
SHRM, posted an article on its site by Roy Maurer – Online Manager/Editor, Talent Acquisition – that provides a helpful explanation of how different companies use a hybrid model that fits their needs.
It reads in part, “The makeup of hybrid models differs across organizations. At Google, employees will be able to return to their desks on a rotation schedule that assigns people to come into the office on a specific day to ensure that no one is there on the same day as their immediate neighbors. They can also apply to work from anywhere up to four weeks per year with manager approval, to provide more flexibility for summer and holiday travel.”
Maurer continues on, illustrating that point with the following example, “At Prudential, the majority of employees indicated that they enjoyed working remotely but missed the collaboration that takes place in person. Prudential took that cue and has been repurposing much of its office space for meeting rooms, collaboration and open space.”
The Data is Clear
A return to workplace survey completed by professional services network Deloitte concluded that hybrid models appear to be here to stay in the “new normal.” Furthermore, the Deloitte study reports 68% of companies are implementing some kind of hybrid model. Considering the magnitude of more than two-thirds of those surveyed adopting a hybrid modality,c, Deloitte also reports, “expected changes to office space in 2022 vary. Organizations planning for a hybrid strategy are 4.5 times more likely to expect a reduction in space by more than 10%.”
Building off of that final point regarding the changing nature of corporate real estate, CBRE, a global real estate firm, reports the following: “Today, many office workers like their newfound flexibility. In CBRE’s most recent Workforce Sentiment Survey of 10,000 employees across 18 countries, 85% of respondents said they would prefer to work virtually at least two to three days a week going forward.”
According to the CBRE report, “For many companies, having some employees who work outside the office is not new. But the broad-scale recognition that organizations need to sustain virtual connectivity at scale and actively support a hybrid workforce marks a new approach for many such companies.”
Why Hybrid Work?
So why is the hybrid office so popular? To use a popular phrase, proponents of hybrid work believe this modality is “the best of both worlds.”
Now, let’s look closer at why hybrid work is viewed as the best of both worlds by reviewing some of the most commonly accepted benefits.
In a post entitled, “What are the Benefits of Hybrid Working,” Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA), a consulting and training company, breaks down the advantages of a hybrid model into 3 categories: those for the individual, for organizations and for society.
According to the AWA post, “The most immediate benefits associated with hybrid working are those experienced by individual ‘knowledge workers’. These benefits tend to vary according to the specific form of hybrid working being implemented within any given organization, department, or team. In general, though, they fall into three main categories: improved well-being, increased income, and increased mobility.”
AWA continues to list the following advantages for organizations:
- Reduced real estate costs
- Improved worker productivity
- Improved retention rates
- Bigger talent pools
- Ability to grow headcount without added space costs
- Improved visibility of senior leaders
As far as society is concerned, AWA cites environmental benefits, higher employment rates, and a healthier society.
Making the Most out of the Hybrid Environment
If you are considering implementing a hybrid modality in your company, or have already done so, we are pleased to share with you some tips that can ensure the process is smooth and outcomes are successful.
Lorne Phelps, Strategic Partner Manager at Ninex and HR Expert Contributor at HR Morning, an online resource for the HR community, compiled the following list of “5 ways to make the most of hybrid office space,” which we are sharing with you below:
- Hot desking tools
- Collaboration across environments
- Digital workspaces
- Virtual recruitment and onboarding
Tools for Success
In order to have a positive hybrid working environment, having the right “tool set” is a must.
Two major tools that can help are as follows:
At Smartway2 our workplace scheduling system works to create a flexible and collaborative workplace while reducing your desk per employee ratio and increasing employee experience.
As far as space utilization, Hubstar’s unique software can help to create an adaptive workplace enabling you to reduce your real estate portfolio and create a data driven workplace design.