Pre-pandemic, “flexible working” was slowly (but surely) taking office culture by storm. London was known as the “flex capital” of the world, and flexible workspace design and amenities—as seen with Google and WeWork—brought one of the biggest revolutions in real estate for over a century.
And then the pandemic happened. Once remote work became the norm, employees acquired a taste for the flexibility it offered—and their expectations shifted. This gave rise to the “hybrid working model”, and it’s safe to say it’s shaping the world of work as we know it.
But what exactly is hybrid working? What does a hybrid workplace look like? And how should you go about implementing a hybrid policy? Although many of the world’s most famous companies are opting for the hybrid approach, getting to the crux of “hybrid working” is still a mystery for some.
And it’s completely understandable. Solving the hybrid workplace puzzle is hard—but as the world’s first hybrid workplace platform, we’re here to make it easy. We’ve laid out everything you need to know in this comprehensive article:
First thing’s first, what does “hybrid work” mean?
Let’s start with the basics: what does “hybrid work” actually mean? Although there isn’t a clear-cut definition yet, hybrid working refers to a blend of office and remote work—with the individual and organisation being the ones who decide how to split the time.
There’s a variety of hybrid strategies that businesses can implement to reflect their best working practices and the sentiments of their employees. As always—there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to hybrid working, so businesses have plenty of options:
- Office occasional
- Designated WFH days
If a hybrid company adopts an office-first approach, they’re essentially saying that the office/HQ will remain the dominant workplace. But that’s not to say there’ll be zero flexibility around this—rather, businesses are indicating that the office is the primary place where employees get most of their work done.
A remote-first hybrid strategy typically means that remote work will be the primary option for most (if not all) employees. Of course, there’ll be a few exceptions—especially if an employee’s job role requires their physical presence. But for the most part, processes will usually be remote-first whereby the default is for everyone to dial in for team meetings, for example.
The 3-2 hybrid model refers to businesses that require their employees to spend three days in the office and two days at home (or vice versa). This option is ideal for businesses that regard team-bonding and collaboration as prominent parts of their company culture.
Hybrid companies with designated office days are “office occasional”. It’s where employers can assign days where an employee’s physical presence is needed. This could be for collaboration sessions or team-building exercises, or it could land on the day where company meetings are held—and employers must set this expectation upfront.
Designated WFH days
And finally, this hybrid strategy allows employers to allocate days where it’s fine for employees to work from home. This could be on a “Quiet Friday” where there are no team meetings or collaboration sessions.
As opposed to fully-remote or fully-office based companies, those adopting a hybrid model will need to set guidelines and expectations around how and where employees work —making each hybrid working setup bespoke to the company adopting it.
For example, while one company, like Amazon, may ask their employees to work from home two days per week (making them 3-2), others are only asking their employees to come into the office once a week—like the Bank of England (office occasional).
The beauty of blended working is that it’s up to individual companies, their culture and their employees.
What is a hybrid work environment?
A hybrid work environment is both the physical and cultural environment you cultivate for your employees.
First, let’s talk about the cultural environment. A number of factors inform a company’s hybrid work culture, including:
Within each of these, you’ll be able to align company values, belief systems and attitudes with your new hybrid working model.
Now let’s talk about the physical environment. Typically, a hybrid company will span three types of workplaces: the office, the home and on-demand workspaces. All three hybrid workplaces must enable employees to work productively and safely, where you can rest assured your employees will be in a hybrid workspace that encourages their best work.
A hybrid office may look a little different to your typical, pre-pandemic office. Many hybrid companies, like what3words, are removing rows of assigned desks. Instead, they’re viewing the office as a social anchor and are carving out areas for collaboration and team bonding.
This is a trend that’s propelling the hybrid movement, as over half of London’s new office constructions are refurbishment projects. But while these facilities will vary from company to company, the standard amenities will likely include:
- Meeting rooms
- Breakout space
- Unique event space
- Video-conferencing enabled suites
- Community spaces, like kitchens and coffee bars.
But it’s worth noting that a hybrid workplace is not a one-size-fits-all. So, you may expect to find quiet zones for employees to crack on with some deep work. After all, a hybrid office will need to represent the best of both worlds.
Now let’s move to the home office. Of course, the environment will entirely depend on the employee’s life circumstances, from furniture enabling good posture to childcare capacities—and these are things that companies can provide. After all, employers will have their own responsibilities in maximising the WFH experience. Hybrid companies must re-evaluate:
…to ensure that remote employees are valued and engaged. We strongly recommend conducting a DSE (Display Screen Equipment) Assessment for all employees so their home working environments are fit for the long term. We can make this quick and easy to do with the HubbleHQ Home Working Assessment.
We also can’t forget about perks. For hybrid companies, keeping the culture alive for remote employees can be challenging, but it’s crucial to maintain. After all, there’s a lot of employee satisfaction to be had when businesses prioritise their WFH experience.
At Hubble, we make it easy for businesses to bring the best of their culture straight to employees’ doors. We curate the best treats, virtual experiences and WFH essentials for your team—from tea boxes to tax relief.
As mentioned earlier, hybrid working companies can also offer their employees on-demand access to local coworking spaces for even more flexibility—and we’ve made this as simple as possible with the Hubble Pass.
With it, hybrid workforces can access convenient workspaces that come equipped with excellent amenities, such as:
- Lightning-fast WiFi
- Meeting rooms
- Phone booths
- Collaborative space
- Childcare facilities
What are the hybrid workplace solutions?
So, we’ve already mentioned that a hybrid workplace setup is bespoke to each company. Therefore, it’s up to each business to decide which hybrid policies will align with their core values, messaging and employees—and with that comes plenty of options you can choose from to reflect the approach you’ve opted for.
We’ve already created a definitive list of hybrid workplace solutions for businesses to explore with ease, but we’ll outline some of the most popular choices here:
Opt for a smaller HQ (or HQs) that all employees have access to
This option is ideal for companies looking to decrease their office footprint, but still want a physical HQ of some sort. It’s a pretty popular hybrid solution, as you can retain an office presence but for much better value for money—and all employees can access the workspace when they need to.
In keeping up with this growing trend, many workspace providers allow businesses to secure a smaller private office while giving them extra access cards for the wider team (sometimes at no additional cost).
Repurpose your existing office
Hybrid working companies can also adapt or diversify their existing offices to serve new purposes. While it can be a hefty task, it’s an ideal solution for businesses who have chosen to stay in their office or are locked into a lease for the foreseeable.
- Increase the amount of breakout or collaborative space available
- Add more meeting rooms
- Include more quiet spaces, such as silent pods or phone booths
What are the benefits of a hybrid workplace setup?
Increased employee productivity
The pandemic has proven that remote working doesn’t come at the expense of productivity—and for some employees, it’s even increased it. According to our Should We Ditch the Office? Survey results, 28% of respondents felt their focus and productivity had improved.
These figures are hardly surprising, as employees in a hybrid workplace can manage their time better. They can choose to commute at quieter times or avoid it altogether, which came as a significant perk for 79% of respondents.
While at home, many hybrid workers can concentrate on deep work without the noise of the traditional office, but relish in its buzz when it’s time to collaborate. It’s the choice that empowers employees to do their best work, and that’s one of the beauties of hybrid working.
Diversity and Inclusion
It’s worth noting that flexible working policies can also improve diversity and inclusion—and at Hubble, we’re all for this. We believe that businesses should treat D&I like any other business issue.
According to Hays Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 2020 report, 75% of marketing respondents value an organisation’s D&I policies when searching for a new role. Similarly, our Should We Ditch the Office Survey? also highlighted how remote working has opened up more opportunities for those routinely excluded from the workforce or denied the flexibility.
These could be working mothers, employees with disabilities and those with economic housing limitations. So, adopting a hybrid approach with flexible policies may give you a competitive edge and diversify your workforce—bringing employees with fresh perspectives the ultimate accessibility.
This hybrid advantage is pretty self-explanatory; if your employees can spend more time with their families, save more money and choose the workplace that’ll encourage their best work—they’ll be happier to work at your company.
Blended working also means that employees can structure their day so that it fits in with their schedule with ease. Whether that’s nipping to a doctor’s appointment or collecting children from school, blended working allows employees to create a healthier work/life balance—and you know what that means? Greater productivity, employee satisfaction and work results for you.
As more businesses are keen to decrease their office footprint, hybrid working can be more cost-effective. This is a considerable advantage; office rent is the second-highest fixed cost for most companies, with the average cost per employee equating to £500 per month in London.
So, if you delegate the office budget elsewhere, you can get more bang for your buck. For example, if your hybrid workforce typically spends:
- Two days in the HQ,
- Two days in on-demand workspaces, and
- One day at home
The new and improved budgeting would mean roughly £200 spent on HQ space, £200 on access to on-demand workspace, and £100 on remote work support and perks per employee. Variety is the spice of (work)life.
Safety during the pandemic
Maintaining safety during the pandemic is another advantage that hybrid workforces can reap. If a teammate tests positive for Covid-19 or has to self-isolate, the wider team can go about their day with minimal disruption—all thanks to video calls and instant messaging integrations.
It also empowers employees to make sensible decisions around how they work. For example, if they’re classified as clinically vulnerable or live with someone who is, they’re more likely to work remotely permanently.
If your team is comfortable and feeling safe in their surroundings, they’re more likely to be happy and produce their best work.
What are the disadvantages of a hybrid workplace setup?
Increased reliance on technology
While hybrid work does have its perks, it’s not all sunshine and roses. A recent survey found that 62% of respondents wanted their employers to provide them with better technology to stay connected to their employees—and our Should We Ditch the Office? Survey also reflected these sentiments.
But luckily, extra passes to high-quality coworking spaces can alleviate these frustrations with hybrid work—as most of these workspaces boast superfast WiFi connections.
Another challenge for hybrid companies to overcome is “presence bias”, leading to suboptimal outcomes for both individuals and businesses. So, how will remote workers continue to have a seat at the table?
It’s a question that’s started to brew throughout the pandemic, and the hybrid landscape has undoubtedly accelerated the need for answers. Employers must think of productive ways to combat presence bias—and luckily, one of our partners, Juggle, has unpacked all you need to know in this blog.
Hybrid working can potentially cause higher levels of burnout—especially if the employee has a difficult time maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
Our recent survey found that 31% of employees feel that remote work has had a significant impact on their mental wellbeing, which could be down to lack of social interaction or work/life boundaries becoming blurred.
This issue may also be related to “presence bias”, as remote employees may work additional hours or overcommit to show that they’re productive and their efforts don’t fly under the radar.
There are tonnes of ways that employees and employers alike can beat the burnout—from making targets more achievable to ensuring you celebrate your remote employees’ achievements. Our partners over at Spill recently wrote a blog about how you can alleviate burnout, and you can read it here.
How to implement a hybrid working policy
Luckily, there are plenty of ways for businesses to implement a hybrid working policy. But since “hybrid work” feels like a relatively new concept, it can be tricky to know where to start.
But first thing’s first: survey your team. Our simple, easy-to-use Workplace Strategy Tool allows you to gain deep, actionable insights into how and where your employees want to work in the future via a 5-minute curated questionnaire.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll also want to outline a few non-negotiables. These are essentially the rules and expectations you’ll set, as an employer, around how much flexibility your employees can have at work.
Tushar Agarwal, CEO and Co-founder at Hubble, recently spoke about how to set non-negotiables and why they’re essential for your company—and you can access the video recording here.
At Hubble, we’ve also hosted a series of webinars that can help demystify the process of implementing hybrid work policies:
- How Real Businesses are Solving the Hybrid Workplace Puzzle; featuring Bumble, Oddbox, Beamery and Koru Kids.
- Work from Anywhere: Will it Work for your Company?; featuring Hubble, Juggle, First Base, Omnipresent and Legal Edge.
- How to Figure Out your Back (to the Future) of Work Strategy; featuring what3words, Culture Trip and Primer.
How Hubble can help
As the world’s first hybrid workplace platform, we’re here to help businesses figure out the right blend of working from the HQ, on-demand workspace and home. We do this via three unique products:
- Workspace Strategy Tool: Understand how your team wants to work
- Hubble HQ: Find the perfect office for your business
- Hubble Pass: Get on-demand access to coworking spaces worldwide
We make it easy for businesses to manage all the different elements of their hybrid workplace via our platform. For more information on how you can find your perfect hybrid balance, click the link below.