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Hybrid Workplace Model: The Future of Work?

Hybrid workplaces have become the new normal. Use this guide for tips and suggestions of how to adapt your office for the hybrid workforce.

Let's face it: The hybrid workplace model is officially part of the new normal. It’s a big change to the modern working environment, with a fusion of in-office and remote work. And if you haven’t heard, it's pretty popular with today's employees. In fact, many job seekers now prefer the hybrid work model, so it’s worth looking into.
The hybrid workplace might just be the future of work, but don’t worry if your head is spinning we're here to help you navigate it. In this guide, we'll cover what a hybrid workplace is, what benefits it offers, and the best office designs for different hybrid workplace models.

What Is a Hybrid Workplace?

The hybrid workplace model combines aspects of remote work and in-office work. Most hybrid work environments allow employees to split their time between working in a central office and their home office. And many companies give employees the freedom to choose their work arrangement and adjust as needed.
However, there is no standard way a hybrid workplace needs to function. This type of work environment operates differently from company to company, so you have some wiggle room. The hybrid workplace model that works best for you could be completely different from your competitors, and that’s OK.

Finding Your Hybrid Workplace Model

The best hybrid workplace model for your business depends on how your employees work. Some employees may work remotely full time, while others may be permanently on-site. Different employees or teams may operate on staggered schedules, swapping in and out each week.
The answer of how your hybrid model should work will depend on how your business operates and what your employees need to get their jobs done. Check out these hybrid models to get an idea of what’ll work best for you:
  • At-will model: At-will models allow employees to choose whether they want to work remotely, in-office, or any combination of the two. It’s often best to ask employees to set their remote and in-office schedules in advance to avoid operational unpredictability (i.e., too many people coming in on the same day).
  • Flex model: The flex model usually allows one "flex day" every week or every other week. Employees get to work from home on their flex days (if they want) and you get to offer freedom without changing the work environment too much. You can let employees choose their flex day or designate it to a specific day of the week for everyone.
  • Split-week model: Split-week models schedule both remote time and on-site time for team members. One set of teams may work in-office in the first half of the week while the other work remotely, switching halfway through. This avoids overcrowding, but you might have to shoulder remote-working costs for employees if you mandate that they work from home.
  • Weekly model: The weekly model schedules specific weeks for employee groups to work in the office and for remote work, usually based on real-time or face-to-face project requirements. It can be helpful for companies with large numbers of employees and makes gradual implementation easier.
  • Designated teams model: With a designated teams model, you'll choose which teams can work remotely and which ones need to be on-site. And you can pick between physical attendance and video conferencing for meetings for your designated remote teams.
The best hybrid workplace model for your business is a decision that must be made from the inside. There's no perfect model that works for every business. If you're not sure what to choose, we recommend asking your employees about which hybrid work model and workplace strategies would be best for them.

Why Choose a Hybrid Workplace Model?

The hybrid workplace model can do some great things for your business, such as offering significant cost savings and creating a happier workforce. Here are some of the many reasons to make it a part of your company culture.

1. Cost Savings

One of the best things about a hybrid workforce is that it can save your business money by improving space efficiency. Think about it, when part of your workforce is remote, you won't need as much square footage for your physical office.
For example, if a percentage of your employees are remote workers who only come into the office for meetings, the only physical spaces you'll need to accommodate them are meeting rooms. And video conferencing can reduce the need for meeting rooms, too.
It’s no secret that real estate costs are usually the second-highest expense for businesses (behind employee salaries and benefits). In the United States, the average cost to rent office space ranges from $8-$25 per square foot. And depending on your office size standards, you could need anywhere from 80 to 500 square feet per employee.
By embracing a hybrid workplace model and reducing how much physical space your business requires, you can save thousands (or even millions) in rent. And if that’s not enough, a hybrid workforce needs fewer office supplies, which just adds to the sweet, sweet savings.

2. Happier Employees

According to a 2021 study, 90% of employees prefer to have the option to work remotely in some capacity. And around half would consider seeking employment elsewhere if their preferred workplace model isn’t available. Most employees see the sweet spot as working in-office around two to three days per week, with the rest done remotely.
This should come as no surprise, given that many employees were required to work from home for a long period due to the pandemic lockdowns and social distancing rules. They adjusted their lives and schedules to accommodate, so removing the option all together could lower morale and cause disruptions for many employees.
Having the option to work remotely also allows employees to maintain a better work-life balance without shortening their workdays. This can be crucial for those with children and family members who rely on them or those who suffer from disabilities. Plus, people work differently, and not everyone does their best work in a central office environment. In fact, many remote employees demonstrate improved productivity at home.
Finally, remote workers save on commuting costs, which means more money in the bank at the end of the month. Helping your employees save money might not be the same as a raise, but it’ll certainly contribute to job satisfaction and maybe even employee retention.

3. Attract Top Talent

With the popularity of the hybrid workplace model, many employees are actively seeking work options that provide more freedom. Flexible work environments are part of the new normal, so top talent can (and often will) hold out for a business with a hybrid workplace. Offering the ability to choose between remote work and in-office work can expand and improve your talent pool.
Of course, candidates who choose where to apply based on employee experience aren’t new. In the past, though, employees sought out perks within the physical workplace. But now, many are after flexible work schedules within a successful hybrid workplace.
With the top talent on your side, you're securing motivated, productive team members that can improve your business from all angles. Like it or not, many employees and job-seekers find a lot of benefit from the hybrid workplace model, and they're supporting businesses that share this vision.

Best Office Layout for a Hybrid Workplace

A hybrid workplace might require something different from the traditional office. Cubicles and physical offices might not be as practical. With a new work model and a distributed workforce, you'll want an office layout that supports your office employees, remote teams, and workers who alternate between the two.
While the best layout will depend on your model, here are a couple that work well with hybrid workplaces:
  • Hybrid office: A hybrid office layout combines elements like cubicles and private offices with open coworking spaces and clustered workspaces. It allows you to change your office as needed for in-office, remote, and at-will employees. For example, offer open workstations to employees who split their time and designated offices or cubicles to permanent on-site workers. Hybrid designs work well for split-week and weekly models.
  • Open plan: An open-plan office emphasizes open space with large tables shared by several employees. This helps enhance employee engagement and person-to-person collaboration while keeping things flexible. Open plans work well for at-will hybrid workplace models.
If you go with a flex model or a designated teams model, you might not need to change anything but the size of your office building (yay!). Or, if this is your first time designing an office, you can simply look for a building that will accommodate your anticipated on-site workforce.

Hybrid Workplace Tips

Moving to a hybrid workplace model might cut costs and boost employee happiness, but it's also a big change. While the best approach will vary from company to company, these tips can help make the hybrid workplace model work for you.

1. Think About Conference Rooms

If your hybrid workplace model brings remote employees into the office for meetings, check-ins, or training, you’ll need conference rooms. Of course, if you'd like to avoid the extra square footage requirements, you can go with video conferencing instead. It’s up to you!

2. Use Collaboration Tools

Collaboration tools allow your employees to communicate regardless of where they are, and they're a must for a successful hybrid workplace. You'll have a range of tools to choose from based on how your teams communicate, and you might end up needing more than one.
For example, quick messaging and brainstorming are often necessary for employees to maintain their workflow.

3. Don't Skip Team Building and Training

Saving money with a hybrid workplace doesn't mean that you can skip team building and training. Whether you choose to focus on online or in-person activities will depend on what works best for your hybrid workforce. For example, you could use any combination of video conferencing, in-person meetups, and continuing education stipends.

4. Be inclusive to fully remote individuals

It's possible that some members on your direct team are based in the same city or location that you are in, while others are not. This could mean that on days when you have a team collaboration session in the office, the folks that are not there in-person could feel left out. You want to avoid this at all costs, for obvious reasons, by ensuring you are looping those fully remote employees in on every in-person team meeting so that they are kept up-to-speed with what's hapening.

Embracing Hybrid Work

Are you ready to embrace a hybrid workplace model? Your employees will thank you for the freedom to focus on a better work-life balance, and your CFO will appreciate the cost savings. So whether you're getting ready to open your first physical location or you're transitioning an established business to a new workplace model, we're here to help.
If your head is spinning, our "Design My Office" feature can help you find the best office furniture for home and corporate office locations. It'll take the planning and guesswork out of the equation by offering personalized recommendations for efficient workstations. Our top-rated desks and office chairs are ergonomically designed and made to last, no matter where your employees are working tomorrow.

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