What Does a Hybrid Workplace Look Like?

Hybrid work is here to stay. What does that mean for office culture?

Written by Sunny Betz
What Does a Hybrid Workplace Look Like?
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
UPDATED BY
Matthew Urwin | Mar 08, 2024

A hybrid workplace is where employees spend some days working in the office and other days working from home. The idea is to provide employees with greater flexibility, giving them options for where they work and how they organize their time.

What Is a Hybrid Workplace?

A hybrid workplace is a setup where employees go into the office on some days and work from home on others. Depending on the organization, companies may designate specific days all employees must work in person, grant work-from-home days to certain teams or set an in-office quota while allowing employees to choose which exact days to work in person.

Although trends in the tech industry continue to fluctuate, it looks like the hybrid workplace model is here to stay. As of February 2023, 41 percent of U.S. workers with remote-capable jobs are working hybrid, compared to 35 percent solely working from home and 12 percent working in person.

 

Free Guide: Embracing the Hybrid Future

Use this guide to overcome common hybrid work challenges and optimize your hybrid work structure to meet your talent needs.

 

What Is a Hybrid Workplace?

A hybrid workplace model allows employees to spend some days working in person and other days working from home. Companies may establish specific days where all employees must come into the office, have various personnel come in on different days or request employees come in on an as-needed basis. Some organizations even let employees select the specific days they want to work in person, as long as they come in for a certain number of days.

No matter the exact setup, hybrid workplaces shift the focus from rigid office hours and encourage employees to arrange their work schedules in ways that allow them to thrive both personally and professionally.       

 

Why a Hybrid Workplace Is the New Normal 

For some companies that were in-person prior to the pandemic, transitioning to a hybrid work model may have seemed like a good temporary solution until they could return to the way things were. But the hybrid model isn’t just a stepping stone on the path back to working in person. Treating it as such can hold companies back, even if they do plan an eventual return to the office.

“Prior to joining Leap, I was at a company that didn’t believe in remote work. Our CEO openly told us, ‘If you want to work from home, take a PTO day, because you won’t actually be working,’” said Arielle Ingber, senior employee experience manager at e-commerce company Leap. “Pivoting was really challenging, because we were planning virtual team building events knowing that our leadership didn’t believe in the model.”

Nearly 60 percent of U.S. workers with remote-capable jobs prefer hybrid work while only a third want fully remote work and less than 10 percent want in-person work. These numbers match up with trends Bianca Kaczor, senior manager of talent acquisition at software development company Simon Data, has noticed among the candidates she interviews.

“Nobody I talk to wants to be in the office five days a week anymore,” Kaczor said. “Those days are over.”

 

Benefits of a Hybrid Workplace

More employees are pushing for hybrid work, but this kind of workplace model also offers several advantages to employers as well.
 

1. Improved Employee Morale

Almost 79 percent of respondents in a 2022 Cisco survey said their work-life balance had improved, and 82 percent said they felt happier due to having flexibility in where they work. When given commuting time back, workers can spend time on more rewarding activities that bring down their stress levels and leave them feeling mentally prepared to take on the workday.      

“I remember getting just so stressed by rushing to the train station, then darting to the shuttle to get to work,” Kaczor said. “By the time I sat down at my desk I was already stressed out, and I hadn’t even started my day. Hybrid eliminates that.”

 

2. Strengthened Company Culture

The flexibility offered by a hybrid model can transform a company’s entire culture for the better. A 2022 Ergotron survey conducted by research firm Vanson Bourne found that 66 percent of workers believe work-life balance is key to boosting company culture in a post-pandemic world. By giving workers more power to set their schedules and make time for their personal lives, companies can cultivate environments that workers will want to be a part of long-term.

 

3. Increased Productivity

Around 60 percent of workers believe both their quality of work and productivity have risen since going hybrid, according to the 2022 Cisco survey. Increased productivity and schedule flexibility make employees feel more positive about the work they do and their company overall, said Taylor Graves, recruitment coordinator at Leap. These jumps in productivity and employee morale can also be attributed to workers being able to choose an environment that best caters to their work styles and preferences.    

“Everyone has different work styles. I sometimes feel more distracted in the office, and I can’t always get certain things done there,” she said. “Both in-person and work from home have pros and cons, so it’s nice to have the option.”

 

4. Reduced Operational Costs

Companies may not need big office spaces, especially if they have different teams work in person on a rotating basis. By reducing their in-person headcount, businesses can downsize their offices and save on real estate expenses. Organizations could then reallocate these savings toward employee benefits, contributing to their company brand and culture.

 

Challenges of a Hybrid Workplace

While embracing flexibility has its upsides for both companies and employees, there are some issues to consider before transitioning to a hybrid workplace model.
 

1. Fewer Social Interactions  

Employees who choose to go into the office to work can gather for snack breaks, host happy hours or grab coffee together. But employees who elect to work from home may miss out on spontaneous social encounters and other opportunities to build relationships. If leaders aren’t proactively making sure every one of their employees is a part of their team’s culture, people will slip through the cracks.

 

2. Lack of Connection   

Only a third of hybrid workers strongly agree that their company’s mission makes their jobs feel meaningful. Lunch outings and happy hours are fun, but if they’re your only culture-building activities, you could be inadvertently excluding members of your team. As a whole, leaders at hybrid companies need to be thinking about how they’re cultivating a culture where everyone feels welcome and connected to the company’s purpose. 

“You have to be more intentional about making connections,” Kaczor said. “When it comes to building a company culture, it’s not just going to naturally happen over a Zoom call. You really have to invest in it.”

 

3. Unequal Opportunities

In companies where hybrid work is optional, employees who work from home part-time may not receive the same kind of recognition as those who come into the office more often. According to a 2022 Envoy survey, about 96 percent of leaders are more likely to recognize employees’ accomplishments when they work in person as opposed to working from home. This can limit hybrid workers’ chances for promotions and career advancement opportunities.  

 

4. Heightened Security Risks

When more workforces transitioned to remote and hybrid work models in 2021, the number of ransomware attacks and social engineering risks rose by 53 percent. Companies must communicate security best practices to their employees. All it takes is for one employee to connect to public Wi-Fi or click on a suspicious link to provide an opening for hackers.

 

Best Practices for a Hybrid Workplace

To get the most out of a hybrid workplace model, follow these tips.
 

1. Develop a Hybrid Workplace Policy

Create a clear set of guidelines for hybrid employees, covering details like what days they can work from home, security tips for working from home and remote communication methods. Ask for employee input during this process as well, so the policy takes into account the needs and preferences of your workforce.

 

2. Upgrade Your Tech Stack

Be sure your tech stack is ready to support company-wide hybrid work. Video conference tools, project management platforms and communication apps are all must-haves for employees working from home. Invest in an appropriate HR platform, so your HR team can effectively keep track of hybrid employees and address any concerns.  

 

3. Maintain Regular Communication 

Hold regular company meetings, and encourage managers to establish consistent team and one-on-one meetings with employees. This makes it easier to develop and maintain relationships with employees in a hybrid setting, contributing to a tighter-knit, more transparent culture.  

“You don’t have the same sense of awareness. I think you have to be more conscious, and encourage openness more,” Ingber said. “From a manager standpoint, you can meet casually maybe every other week with each employee to chat about how things are going outside work.”

 

4. Encourage Independence and Trust

Give your employees the benefit of the doubt. Make sure managers are giving their teams the space they need to complete tasks and think through ideas on their own. Increased surveillance and micromanagement are not trade-offs for working from home.  

“We don’t try to micromanage or mistrust people,” Graves said. “People have space and autonomy to bring their own special sauce to their work. You have your freedom to operate on trust and good intentions, and you can decide what’s good for you.”

 

5. Provide Upskilling Opportunities

Offer employees training sessions, courses and other upskilling activities, so everyone feels comfortable working hybrid. Asking employees to mentor newer or less tech-savvy employees is also a good way to give workers additional support.   

 

6. Plan Accessible Social Events

Set up online happy hours, trivia nights and other virtual activities, so employees from any location can participate. For example, Kaczor’s team uses Coffee Chat, a chatbot app that integrates with Slack, to encourage one-on-one interaction and relationship-building between remote teammates.

 

7. Solicit Employee Feedback

Follow up with employees about your hybrid workplace model. Ask them what they like, what they think could be better and other ideas to include in your hybrid strategy. Employees’ needs and preferences can shift quickly, so be sure to keep a pulse on workers’ sentiments and remain open to change

Free Guide: Embracing the Hybrid Future

Use this guide to overcome common hybrid work challenges and optimize your hybrid work structure to meet your talent needs.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Hybrid work is a workplace model where employees spend some days working in the office and some days working from home. This way, workers have more control over where they work and how they arrange their schedules.

An example of a hybrid workplace is a company that designates certain days employees must come into the office. Leadership may decide that employees must work in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays while giving employees the option to work from home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Hybrid work involves a combination of working in person and working from home. Remote work refers to solely working from home or another location outside of a company’s office.

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