Hybrid working is a flexible working model not dissimilar to teleworking or remote working. The practice allows employees to combine working from home with working in an office or other workplace. Hybrid working is a location-flexible work schedule where employees combine working from one with working in an office or other place of employment.
Understanding hybrid working
Hybrid working became more popular in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as companies scrambled to limit exposure to the virus. However, this form of working will continue and become more diverse even after the worst effects of the pandemic have subsided.
Corporations such as Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft are rewriting the rule book on the future of work. Hybrid working, they contend, allows for versatile working styles, configurations, and needs. What’s more, fixed workspaces will be substituted with mobile, more collaborative spaces as pandemic protocols remain in place. Density limits and physical distancing, for example, are making traditional workplaces untenable for businesses as twice the amount of space is now required for the same number of employees.
Hybrid working models
As the hybrid working model diversifies, four general models have emerged:
Where the employee chooses on or off-site working according to whatever suits them at the time. For instance, an employee may choose to come into the office to meet an important client or to find a spot to work in peace away from the demands of home.
Shift work model
In the shift work model, employees work in shifts where they alternate between working from home and working morning or evening shifts in the traditional place of work. The shift work model tends to be less popular among employees for obvious reasons.
Perhaps the most common hybrid work model is the split-week approach. Here, an employee spends two or three days of the workweek at home and two or three days onsite. Which days the employee spends where usually depends on the department they work in. For example, the sales team may use the office on Monday and Thursday with marketing taking Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. This is not a perfect solution, but it does allow all employees to touch base or meet with their teams and have face-to-face interaction with colleagues and superiors.
This model is similar to the split-week model except employees from various departments alternate between onsite and offsite work every week. This approach is used by companies with larger teams who all need to be in one space at the same time.
Limitations of hybrid working
Despite the obvious practicalities of the hybrid working model, inevitably it will be unsuitable for a percentage of employees.
Some report that having to maintain two workplaces is problematic. The practice is tedious and time-consuming and there is potential for employees to leave important items at one workplace while they transition to the other.
The constant change of workplace setting is also emotionally draining for some workers. They report not ever feeling settled, which causes an increase in stress levels and a decrease in productivity.
According to the employee engagement platform TINYpulse, over 80% of leaders reported that their employees were exhausted from hybrid work. This view was echoed by the workers themselves, who noted rather alarmingly that hybrid work was more emotionally draining than full-time work in an office.
- Hybrid working is a location-flexible work schedule where employees combine working from one with working in an office or other place of employment.
- Hybrid working models include the at-will model, shift work model, split-week model, and week-by-week model.
- Hybrid working is a practical approach, but like many broad initiatives, will not be suitable for every employee. Having to maintain two workspaces and be forced to constantly shift between them, some reported, was more emotionally draining than working full time in an office.
Key Points about Hybrid Working:
- Definition and Flexibility:
- Hybrid working is a flexible work model that combines remote work (usually from home) with on-site work in an office or other workplace.
- Allows employees to balance their work location based on their needs and tasks.
- Rise and Diversity:
- Gained prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic as a response to health and safety concerns.
- Will continue evolving even after the pandemic, with companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft endorsing its benefits.
- Hybrid Working Models:
- At-will Model: Employees choose remote or on-site work based on their preferences or tasks, offering flexibility and variety.
- Shift Work Model: Employees alternate between remote and on-site shifts, less popular due to potential drawbacks.
- Split-Week Model: Common approach with 2-3 days at home and 2-3 days on-site, allowing team interactions and flexibility.
- Week-by-Week Model: Employees alternate between remote and on-site weeks, useful for larger teams needing simultaneous collaboration.
- Limitations and Challenges:
- Dual Workspace Maintenance: Maintaining two workspaces can be cumbersome and time-consuming.
- Emotional Impact: Frequent changes in work settings can lead to stress and reduced productivity for some employees.
- Exhaustion: Reports suggest that hybrid work can be emotionally draining, impacting well-being and engagement.
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