Today, 63% of high-revenue growth companies embrace a hybrid workforce model, with 83% of workers preferring a hybrid model. As the demand grows for a more flexible work situation, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and see if this work model might be right for your company.
If it is, consider revamping your office design and implementing some best practices to help all your employees thrive. I’ve found that taking a thoughtful approach to whether a hybrid model would work for you is a great way to feel confident that you are making the best strategic decision for your company, whatever you and your team choose.
Know the pros and cons
A hybrid office isn’t for everyone – or for every company. Your work culture and business model may not be the right fit. But let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of hybrid offices to see if this work model might be what your company needs.
- Better space efficiency: With fewer people on site, you don’t need as much office space, which cuts down on your overhead costs.
- Better morale: Giving your employees the flexibility to choose where they work helps them have a better work-life balance, making them more likely to want to participate in employee activities.
- Improved company culture: “Hybrid work lets employees switch between different environments according to their needs and objectives,” said tiffany fowell at Envoy, a company that provides tools for remote work. “As a result, when they go into the workplace, they’ll feel more purpose-driven about doing so.”
- Harder to engage remote employees: Communicating in person can be faster and clearer, making work more effective. Without those in-person connections, employees may feel disconnected from their teams, although chatting apps and video conferencing can help!
- On-site workers may feel less motivated: “While employees may enjoy flexibility, people on-site may feel a certain dullness if there aren’t a lot of people there,” Fowell said. “A bustling workplace can be energizing, but if half of your people are working off-site on any given day then it may feel lifeless instead.”
- Additional cybersecurity costs: “Hybrid working as been described as ‘a hacker’s dream.’ Many workers with many devices constantly coming and going through company networks,” said Bryan Lufkin at Hello Hybrid.
Design your hybrid office
With the pros and cons above in mind, let’s talk about three office design ideas that will set your hybrid office up for success. These come from Jim Keane and Todd Heiser at Harvard Business Review:
First, invest in multiple monitors and rolling carts. This helps avoid a disconnect between in-person and remote coworkers during meetings. Instead of in-person employees looking up at one screen with tiny boxes containing their coworkers’ faces and remote employees looking down over a full conference room, multiple monitors simulate the experience of sitting next to someone. This helps foster connections and a greater feeling of engagement for both types of employees.
Second, ensure in-person employees have a private place to hunker down and focus. While working from home, people have become used to the privacy and quiet of their home offices. While the open office concept is great for collaboration, it might be time to bring cubicles back — at least for certain times of the day when employees need to focus.
Third, consider making the physical design of your building more flexible. Business needs change quickly, and it might be more economical to have a space that can transform for multiple purposes than to have a dedicated spot for each of those purposes in a larger building. For example, “We’ve optimized our own space by designing an open area that supports hybrid meetings in the morning, becomes the café at lunch, hosts a town hall in the afternoon, and can be rented for an evening event,” said Keane and Heiser.
Help your hybrid employees thrive
My employees have been incredible throughout the pandemic, showing remarkable flexibility and perseverance as scenarios changed and then changed again. My goal has been to help them thrive, whether they’re working at home or in the office or both. Julie Everitt, head of human resources at Standard Chartered Americas, gave seven tips for transitioning to a successful hybrid work model; I’ll share just a couple of them here:
- Build trust through transparent communication and feedback tools. You might consider sending out an employee survey or hosting a Q&A to answer employees’ questions about the new hybrid model.
- Set up people leaders as stewards of the new normal. Hold regular one-to-one check-ins throughout the transition to ensure that potential issues are identified quickly.
- Continue to support those wanting to work from home. Make sure remote employees know the resources available to them to help enable a successful work-from-home experience.
Weigh the pros and cons of hybrid work, design a great hybrid workspace and take steps to help all your employees thrive. By following these tips, your employees can have a work experience they love.
Peter Ord is the founder of GuideCX, a client implementation and onboarding project platform based in Draper, Utah.