Defining the Future of the Office: What is Hybrid Work?

Sabrina Dorronsoro
Sabrina Dorronsoro
Published on 

hybrid work, image of home and office

“Work from anywhere” is the new mantra for many. As employers and their teams consider how best to utilize their hybrid offices, remote work has become the new norm. Remote workers have realized the many benefits of a flexible schedule and no commute.

But many companies still need their offices to serve as valuable spaces for meetings, collaboration, and team building. Finding the right balance between at home and in person will take time, and we’re already seeing people give it a shot.

Salesforce has stated that “the 9-to-5 workday is dead,” and we know that Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and a host of other tech companies are making the shift to a new, hybrid workplace.

Getting hybrid work right is important because if you get it wrong, it’ll cost you. So let’s break it down: What is hybrid work? What does it look like? How do you know if you’re doing it right?

What is Hybrid Work? The Workplace Model Explained

Hybrid work is a flexible policy that empowers people to choose where (and when) they work, typically a balance between home and the office.

People may have set schedules where they work at home three days a week and in the office two days, or choose to do either full-time. This means teams who used to gather in the office now work as hybrid teams, connected by technology rather than shared office space.

In essence, a hybrid work scheduling policy can offer the best of both worlds. A Gallup poll revealed that 60% of remote-capable employees prefer hybrid work over other arrangements. Utilize global workplace trends to make decisions about your hybrid work strategy.

Why Convert to Hybrid Work?

People now understand that they can work well together, no matter where they are located – as long as they have the right tools to support them.

Flexibility to choose one’s own schedule allows each person to work based on when they feel most motivated or creative, even if it’s 3:00 a.m. Letting your teams choose schedules based on their working styles and preferences is not only more productive, but it boosts job satisfaction and improves employee experience.

Flexibility promotes better work-life balance, too. That’s a big plus for people who have caretaking responsibilities. What’s more, everyone spends less time commuting to and from the office with a hybrid work model – time that quickly adds up.

“Productivity” isn’t about where you are or how many hours you put in; rather, it’s about what you accomplish. A hybrid work policy should:

  • Give companies a chance to consider what practices, processes, and tools are required for effective communication and collaboration
  • Open doors to more cost-effective real estate management
  • Reduce overhead expenses like janitorial staff and office supplies
  • Boost quality and diversity in recruiting by eliminating geography as a factor
  • Give people a sense of autonomy and control over their work schedule
  • Support people’s health and well-being

Creating a Hybrid Work Schedule

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 60% of businesses that allowed increased telework because of the pandemic plan to keep those remote work arrangements permanent. If your company wants to utilize the hybrid workplace model long-term, a set schedule can help your team succeed

A chart showing office usage by day

There are three ways to set up a hybrid work schedule:

  1. Company-wide policy: Require that everyone comes into the office one, two, or three days a week. If your all-hands staff meeting takes place on Tuesday, that may be a good day to have everyone together in person.
  2. Cohorts: Divide up the workforce into cohorts that alternate in-office days. For example, one cohort comes into the office on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other group comes in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you’re concerned about having sufficient office space or keeping workers socially distanced, this solution is for you.
  3. Let your people decide: Leave it up to your people to choose when they work from home and when they come into the office.

If you aren’t sure where to start, try mapping out your organization by department and function. Some tasks can be accomplished in any setting, while other projects benefit from in-person collaboration.

Technology for Hybrid Work

There are certainly benefits to having all your teams in one location: you know where everyone is, and you can communicate with everyone at once. But workplace management software allows workers to stay connected, whether they’re onsite or at home. A workplace management platform allows you to:

  • Create digital seating charts and floor plans
  • Reserve and assign workspaces
  • Quickly locate team members
  • Track analytics to understand your space usage and plan for the future

With workplace management tools, People can quickly book a desk, saving them valuable time when they arrive at the office. And reserving conference rooms or adjoining workspaces makes in-person team collaboration seamless.

Implementing a Hybrid Work Policy

Implementing a new company-wide policy can feel overwhelming, but no worries. Here at Robin, our entire mission is helping companies and teams make the most of every aspect of work and the working environment. We’ve put together a wealth of resources to help you develop a smart, successful return-to-office plan.

Our top recommendation: phase it in.

There’s too much to consider to expect a cold-turkey transformation from the old office to a hybrid workplace. You’ll need to think about which people actually need to be in the office and the activities they’ll need to accomplish. Take the following steps:

  • Evaluate your physical space and rearrange desks or workstations as needed
  • Re-outfit meeting spaces to accommodate fewer people, and more technology to facilitate hybrid collaboration
  • Plan and communicate your health screening protocols to anyone entering the office

Now you’re ready to phase in your return:

  • Phase 1: Stick to essentials – give access to only the people who must be onsite, while everyone else works remotely. Test out your setup.
  • Phase 2: Make necessary improvements, and assign some pilot teams to work in-office, at least part-time, to test your plan.
  • Phase 3: Gradually move to greater flexibility, working with managers to set up the best working arrangements for their teams.
  • Phase 4: Welcome to your new normal! Embrace your new company culture and use the data you’ve gathered to make adjustments as needed.

Ready to get started? At Robin, we create efficient, user-friendly tools that make it easy for you to manage hybrid teams.

We offer a single platform for mapping your space, scheduling meetings, booking desks and offices, analyzing workplace data and trends, and communicating with people. To learn more about the hybrid work technology you need and how Robin can help, schedule a demo with us today.