Hybrid Workplace: Creating a Modern Workspace
In the span of 18 months, the pandemic has created a seismic shift in our work environments and with it, the concept of the hybrid workplace. Before the pandemic, only 6% of employed Americans worked primarily from home, according to a briefing by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). According to Global Workplace Analytics, “69% of U.S. employees worked remotely at the peak of the pandemic.” This shift is an impressive display of employer agility. It also gave an indication as to what many employees want for their future office environment.
According to SHRM, “over half (52 percent) of 1,000 U.S. workers would choose to permanently work from home on a full-time basis if given the option.” Again, employers are responding. With the development of the Delta and Omicron variants complicating many initial return-to-office plans, the hybrid work environment is becoming a clear path to helping many employees achieve an optimum work-life balance. Is a hybrid workplace right for your business? This article will explain what is a hybrid workspace, some of the potential pros and cons of a hybrid workplace, and how to incorporate one for a workspace that is prepared for the future.
What Is a Hybrid Workspace?
The hybrid workspace is a combination of remote work with a physical, office-based presence. Businesses vary in how they structure their hybrid models, with each designing their specific hybrid workspace to their own preferences and needs. There can be a core group of full-time workers who maintain a presence in the physical office while other employees may work remotely full-time or move freely between their remote and physical office. Other businesses may require employees to be in the office for designated days each week with the remaining days spent working remotely.
Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Workplace
As with any business model, there can be both benefits and drawbacks to having a hybrid office. Employers should familiarize themselves with each, as detailed in the following sections.
Benefits of Hybrid Workplaces
In general, employees want to be productive and do their best work for their employer. Many are finding the hybrid office model is helping them achieve this. At the same time, employers are discovering that hybrid office layout benefits are translating into tangible gains across many key business indicators. Some of these can include:
- A stronger work-life balance, which can help employees feel less stressed and a greater sense of overall happiness with their lives.
- A reduced level of employee anxiety about returning to a public workplace while the pandemic oscillates between surges and declines.
- Higher levels of productivity and creativity from employees who no longer have to navigate stressful commutes and who can create an entirely customized office environment.
- Advantages for the company's bottom line, due to financial savings on real estate and office maintenance expenses.
- Access to a larger talent pool as more job seekers are looking for such flexible working environments.
- A reduction in the spread of contagious viruses, which can translate into fewer sick days, improved productivity and employee health, as well as a drop in health insurance claims.
- Lower travel-related costs by using more technology for employees across locations to collaborate remotely instead of requiring frequent and costly on-site meetings.
Drawbacks of Hybrid Workplaces
Just like conventional in-office workplaces, a hybrid office environment can come with some flaws, depending on the business. Some of the drawbacks of hybrid workplaces may not be applicable to your business; however, it's important to take them all into consideration. Some of these can include:
- Remote work may not be an option for all workers, especially frontline workers in places like hospitals, factories, law enforcement, schools, or construction.
- Some employees may prefer coming into a workplace each day and struggle with remote work.
- Not everyone has high-quality internet access and space for a designated home office.
- A business may have to invest in some training and equipment to ensure employees have what they need to perform their duties and collaborate with one another remotely.
- There are increased chances, real and/or perceived, that employees will be less "visible" to executives and miss out on opportunities that in-office employees may have.
- Managers may be unfamiliar with strategies for managing a remote workforce and require some training.
How To Incorporate a Hybrid Workplace As Your Future Working Environment
As the business landscape incorporates more remote workers, employers have had to figure out how to adopt and implement a consistent work environment that keeps workers connected, engaged, and productive. Thriving, future office environments will need consistency across both remote and in-office spaces. The following tactics can help your digital operations support a successful, hybrid office design:
- Create a schedule for employees to share onsite workspaces.
- Ensure that your collaborative technology works for everyone, everywhere.
- Take advantage of on-demand HR technology and services, such as benefit services, time and attendance, payroll, and HR support for your employees.
- Create feedback channels to help improve your hybrid workplace.
- Set key performance indicators to assess whether your workplace is operating effectively.
- Provide technological support so employees have the resources they need to troubleshoot IT issues that can interfere with getting work done.
- Set clear expectations around hours of availability.
- Consider providing a stipend to help employees set up a remote work environment that can help them stay productive.
Take Advantage of the Modern Workspace
Hybrid workplaces as part of the future of work are already here. As employees want to provide their optimum performance while balancing their home life, chances are high they will gravitate to those businesses that are operating or implementing a hybrid office workspace option. Consider working with an HR professional to help you determine whether your business would benefit from a hybrid workplace.