What is a hybrid workplace model and how to create a hybrid office?

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in many ways. For a long time, some of us didn’t go to work at all. Some of us worked from home, and some of us carried on as normal (normal-ish!). Now that some sense of normality is returning, and people are starting to go back to work, a lot of businesses are having to rethink their office setups. The hybrid work model is being employed across the nation by many businesses, both small and large, to prioritise the health of their employees whilst still being able to offer optimal standards for their clients and customers. 

The Hybrid Workplace Explained

Put simply, a hybrid workplace model is an office or workspace where not all employees are required to physically come into work. The ‘hybrid’ element is due to the mixing of in-house staff and remote workers. That’s it, really, that’s the ‘what,’ the ‘how’ can be a bit more complex.

There are many different variations on the setup, but a hybrid office will generally consist of a small team of regular office-based staff, usually those who need access to certain software/equipment, and the majority of employees working from home. These remote workers are often given the flexibility to come into the office if and when they need to, but that depends largely on the physical limitations of the building, the number of employees, and the manager’s decisions. 

How to Implement a Hybrid Model

  • Whatever works for you

This can be difficult. It’s already established that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so in order to create a hybrid work model for your own business, it’s important to carefully assess your team, your needs, and the ongoing situation. 

You may decide that it’s preferable to split office time and home time by splitting your staff into ‘remote’ and ‘office-based’ teams, and this can work. Make sure you have your employees needs factored into account, as childcare, disabled access and health issues are all still subject to rapid changes with the ongoing pandemic. 

Of course, if you do choose to do this, everyone must be comfortable and able to come to the office if they are part of the in-house team. It also has to make sense for the business. There’s no point forcing the complaints department to come in, for example, if they only need a phone and a laptop to do their job. 

Marketing, however, may need access to company records, product information, client information, and specialised software, that you only have at the office. So it would be wise to get marketing set-up in-house. 

  • Remote First

There is an endless list of all the possible variations of who’s in, who’s out. One of the simplest ways of creating an effective hybrid workplace is to leave the office mostly empty. Instruct all of your staff to work from home (where possible) and leave the office free for any important meetings or one-to-ones that can’t be carried out anywhere else. There will of course be some employees that are unable to work from home, due to their living situation or the needs of their role; they should be prioritised when it comes to handing out desks – though there shouldn’t be any problems there; studies have found that across the board, people much prefer working from home. This model also caters to those feelings.

  • Office First

The other obvious option is the reverse of what’s been happening. Keep as many people in the office as possible, (while maintaining safety standards) but allow remote working where it is beneficial or necessary. Again, this is largely situation-dependent, but if your business seems to function better with a more communal work atmosphere, then you’ll be unwilling to sacrifice that, and your employees may feel the same. Make exceptions for those who need to be isolated, or who are having difficulties with the other knock-on effects of the pandemic (childcare etc.). 

Implementing the hybrid model may seem overwhelming at first, but once you’ve broken down your business’s unique needs and objectives, you’ll be able to figure out the best method for you. Good luck!

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