As companies debate going back to the office, many choose to offer hybrid jobs, which allow employees to work remotely on some days and from the office on other days.
Hybrid jobs can be an attractive perk for employees who want the flexibility of remote work and the collaboration and socialization benefits of in-person office work. In fact, according to a 2023 Gallup survey, nearly 60 percent of workers want to work hybrid. An Accenture survey put that figure even higher, at 83 percent.
What Is a Hybrid Job?
A hybrid job blends remote work and in-office work, allowing employees the flexibility to work some days from home and other days from an office.
Conversations around hybrid work are often complicated by mixed definitions. It could either refer to a job that blends remote and in-office work, or a workplace model in which a company employs a mix of fully remote employees and in-office (or hybrid) employees.
Hybrid jobs and hybrid work environments can take various forms and shapes, and each comes with their own benefits and drawbacks.
Types of Hybrid Work Schedules
A hybrid work schedule generally fits one of four different hybrid work models: flexible, fixed, remote-first or office-first.
A flexible hybrid model allows employees to work wherever they want, and the office is always available as an option. This is the most flexible hybrid work model, but it can be unpredictable to know who will be in the office or how many seats will be available on any given day.
Under this model, an employee might start their day out at home and go to the office in the afternoon. They might go to the office twice a week, once a week or once a month.
A fixed hybrid model is one where the company tells employees which days to come to the office, typically two or three days per week. This model ensures employees will be able to see each other when they go to the office, which is important to many workers. A Microsoft study from 2022 found that 73 percent of employees would go to the office more frequently if they knew their direct team members would be there. For some workers, though, the fixed hybrid model may feel too rigid, as it doesn’t give them the full flexibility of deciding which style of work best meets their needs on any given day.
In an office-first hybrid model, employees are expected to come into the office most days, but are allowed to work from home as needed. This model prioritizes in-person collaboration and socialization, but it may not be the right choice for an employee with a long commute or trouble focusing in a noisy office environment.
A remote-first hybrid model is primarily a remote work environment that defaults to online communication. Dropbox was an early adopter of the remote-first hybrid model, bringing employees together quarterly for in-person gatherings. The company maintains its offices, but they are not available outside of planned group meetings. Other companies who adopt a remote-first hybrid model may not have an office. Instead, they might bring employees together periodically for large retreats or meetings in hotels or coworking spaces.
Hybrid Job Examples
A hybrid job can mean different things to different companies. Some examples of hybrid work in practice can include the following:
Two or three in-office days each week. Some companies might require employees to come to the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for example, while others may allow employees to pick two or three days out of the week to come to the office.
A few in-office days each month or quarter. Some hybrid jobs require employees to come in once a month, while others may get together once every three months.
Several ‘core’ in-office weeks each year. The J.M. Smucker Company developed a unique hybrid arrangement that requires employees to visit its Ohio headquarters 22 “core weeks” out of the year. Employees who want to live in another area of the country are welcome to live anywhere they want, as long as they return during those core weeks. “It aligns incentives to the individual, and therefore you get the behavior you vote for,” said Denise Brouder, founder of hybrid work consultancy SWAYworkplace.
In-office days encouraged but not required. Seismic, a sales enablement software company with six U.S. offices, doesn’t mandate employees to come into its offices. Instead, it takes what chief people officer Linda Ho calls the “carrot” approach, which incentivizes employees to come in for free lunch, workshops and socialization.
“We believe that the office is a center of community, a center for collaboration, for innovation, and all of that requires intentional work,” Ho said. “So we are intentionally creating spaces that enable that or intentionally creating programming to create that environment.”
Advantages of a Hybrid Job
For many, hybrid work may strike an ideal balance between a remote role and an in-person office job.
1. Greater Work-Life Balance
Hybrid jobs allow employees to work remotely part of the time, alleviating the headache of a rush-hour commute, the cost of childcare and the time it takes to pack a lunch. Most hybrid jobs also offer workers the flexibility of taking a break to walk their dog or pick up their child from school. The time these workers save on commuting can be used to accomplish more work, or it could be used to catch up on housework, read a book and generally enjoy a greater work-life balance.
2. Flexibility to Be More Productive
The more flexible hybrid job models give employees the ability to work where they feel most productive. If they are distracted by coworkers at the office, they might work from home or a coworking space. If an employee feels isolated or distracted by home life, they can go to the office or a coffee shop — whatever works best for them.
While working from home has long been stigmatized as unproductive, those concerns were largely debunked during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a 2020 survey of 794 companies, 94 percent said employee productivity has either improved or stayed the same since employees started working remotely. Unfortunately, many managers have still not let go of their “productivity paranoia,” according to a 2022 Microsoft survey that found 85 percent of leaders lacked confidence in the productivity of hybrid employees.
3. Less Isolating Than Fully Remote Jobs
Remote workers can sometimes feel isolated, even when they’re on video calls with coworkers. Because they’re not going into an office, employees who work from home don’t have the opportunity to bond with coworkers, bump into new people and build their professional network.
Those feelings of isolation can sometimes cause remote workers to feel disconnected from their company culture. Only 28 percent of remote workers feel connected to their company’s mission and purpose, according to Gallup, but that figure increases to 35 percent for hybrid employees.
4. Attracts Talent in a Tight Labor Market
The desire for flexible working arrangements is one of the top three factors motivating workers to find a new job, according to McKinsey.
Companies that adopt a hybrid work model will not only attract workers seeking flexibility, it also removes the geographic limitations of a company’s potential talent pool.
Seismic, which employs a mix of hybrid and remote employees, has benefited from widening its scope to include remote candidates in recent years. The San Diego-based company brings remote and hybrid employees together once a year to socialize and align on strategy.
“It’s enabled us to hire diverse talent that we have not had access to previously,” Ho said. “It’s definitely our strategy for growth.”
5. Save Money on Office Expenses
Companies who lean into hybrid work models may also realize a more practical benefit of reducing their office footprint and their monthly rent expense.
Seismic reduced the size of its office and the cost of its lease while renovating its workspace for hybrid work. The office, which no longer has assigned seating, was designed so workers will pass through social and collaboration areas before they reach the desk area. There are also whiteboards, movable walls and other features that are conducive for collaboration.
Disadvantages of a Hybrid Job
While hybrid jobs can be seen as the best of both worlds, it also comes with the downsides of remote and in-person work, as well as some unique challenges of its own.
1. Time and Expense of Commuting
While a hybrid work model offers more flexibility than a co-located work environment, it often encourages or requires employees to come into a physical office location with some regularity.
Even employees who do live in the same area may not want to spend time or money commuting to a job they may have previously performed remotely. According to a 2022 Microsoft study, 73 percent of employees need a better reason to go into the office than company expectations.
If leaders are going to ask employees to take the time to commute to the office, they should be purposeful about the reasons they want employees to come back to work.
“Build that culture, create a sense of belonging and make sure people know that when they’re coming to the office, they’re doing something different than they would typically do at home,” suggested Jess Elmquist, chief human resources officer at HR software company Phenom.
2. Communication Challenges
Hybrid work poses many of the same communication challenges of remote work, but it also presents its own challenge when it comes to communicating with a blend of remote and office workers.
When working remotely, hybrid employees will most frequently communicate through text-based collaboration platforms, which may make it more difficult to communicate complex ideas or convey their emotions in delicate conversations.
Employees may also interact with team members through planned video calls, but those calls are often scheduled for specific business purposes and not conducive to banter and personal conversations.
Hybrid work models that allow employees to choose their own office days might also have to grapple with the technological logistics of arranging a videoconference or teleconference that enables remote employees to participate alongside in-office employees. Companies might also use asynchronous video and collaboration tools for projects that don’t require real-time collaboration.
3. Proximity Bias
In hybrid environments mixing co-located and remote workers, managers may be less likely to take an interest in getting to know (or promote) remote employees because they are out of sight, out of mind. This phenomenon, known as proximity bias, should be recognized and addressed in hybrid teams.
Managers can level the playing field by making sure all employees have access to the same information at the same time. In meetings, they should call on remote workers just as often as they call on workers in the office. Managers should also make an extra effort to get to know their remote employees.
“When I can’t physically see you, I have to see you another way,” Brouder said. “To understand that, I have to know you in a different way, so we can work together when we’re physically apart.”
4. May Limit Growth for Early-Career Employees
Remote work can also be a disadvantage for early-career employees who might otherwise thrive under in-person mentorship at an office. One study found that junior engineers were held back by the reduced feedback they received while working remotely. This dynamic would be most applicable to workers under a flexible hybrid model that brings employees in once a month or a quarter, as opposed to hybrid employees who come to the office on a weekly basis.
5. Might Exclude Candidates From Other Areas
A hybrid job that requires an employee to be in the office on a weekly basis will necessarily limit the pool of applicants to those who live within commuting distance of that office building. This is not true for all hybrid configurations, though. Companies that require employees to visit the office once a month or once per quarter may be able to attract candidates from other states or regions of the country.
Differences Between Hybrid and Remote Work
Hybrid Jobs Require Some Office Time
Remote work can be performed anywhere, and doesn’t require employees to come into the office. Hybrid jobs are different from remote jobs in that employees are either required to or encouraged to come into the office in some capacity — even if it might only be once a month.
Hybrid Jobs Attract More Local Candidates
Remote jobs attract job candidates from all over the country or the world. Hybrid jobs that require employees to come in on a weekly basis, however, attract candidates who live within reasonable commuting distance of one of the company’s offices.
Hybrid Jobs Allow In-Person Social Opportunities
A hybrid job may be ideal for employees who want to work remotely but miss the social aspect of the office. A Cisco study found that about half of respondents feel isolated or more fatigued with remote work, and that 95 percent would return to the office for team-building, collaboration and connection with peers.
In the office, there’s the possibility that you’ll meet new people, get a better understanding of other areas of the business or even find out about a new opportunity. For remote employees, it takes more of an effort to make those kinds of relationships.
“They can’t just bump into someone in an office,” Ho said of remote workers. “They have to put in that meeting. They have to join that Slack channel. They really have to put in that effort in order to make that new way of working work for them.”
How to Create a Good Hybrid Work Environment
1. Establish Hybrid Working Guidelines
Create clear guidelines for how often employees should work in the office and online, and what that schedule will look like during a typical work week. These guidelines will differ depending on the company, and can be tailored to a company’s needs and wants. Some hybrid companies may require their employees to spend a specific amount of hours in-office during the week, while others may present the office as a working location option.
2. Make Work Events Accessible For All Employees
Set up meetings and important events in a way so that they can be accessed by any employee regardless of their working location. This can look like holding exclusively online meetings and company-wide gatherings. This may also include scheduling meetings with various time zones in mind and setting up an office space with enough open meeting rooms.
3. Encourage Transparency on Working Locations
Encourage employees to signify on their calendar, work chat or email when they are working in-office or at home. This practice provides transparency for other employees, and can help with working around differing schedules and tracking attendance in meetings.
4. Set Employees Up to Succeed in the Office and at Home
Create an office space that is organized, comfortable and will incentivize employees to come in during the work week. At the same time, provide online tools and technologies that will make employees feel equipped to complete their jobs at home. No matter what physical location an employee is working from, they should be provided the proper resources to accomplish their work at full efficiency.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a hybrid job?
A hybrid job is a role that is performed remotely some days and in an office on other days.
What is an example of a hybrid job?
A hybrid job might ask an employee to come into an office twice a week, once a month or once per quarter. The schedule of a hybrid job will vary depending on the company.
What is the difference between hybrid and remote work?
A hybrid job will ask an employee to come into an office, while a remote job will not. The office requirements will vary depending on the company you work for.