If you’re wondering how to create and implement a hybrid workplace environment in your company, this is the guide for you! We will go through all the important questions, pros and cons, the process of transferring to a hybrid working model and some useful advice on how to communicate your idea to your employees.
But first, let’s start with the essentials…
What is a hybrid work method?
A hybrid office is a business model used by many companies that combines office and remote work. It’s neither one nor the other – it’s always a combination of the two. Some schools also offer the same hybrid learning environment where students have some classes online and others at the university or school.
A hybrid workplace puts the employees’ personal lives at the centre of their time management plans since they have the chance to organise their work in a way that fits them and not fit their life to some fixed office hours. It’s no wonder why this technique is seen as an ideal way of creating a balanced and structured life.
It’s an entirely customisable strategy that can be fitted to the company’s individual needs that uses it. Some of them have the so-called skeletal staff, which is always in the office, while the other part only comes when they need to. Other businesses give all of their employees the freedom to choose where they want to work, and oftentimes, they only make them go in for important meetings and training sessions.
Benefits of implementing a hybrid working method in your business
For the modern workforce, a hybrid workplace is just as critical as ever. This environment allows employees to enjoy a work-life balance, and it can also ease anxiety for those who fear public transit or returning to a normal office space. It gives employees time to spend with their families, allocate the work tasks in a way that will best suit their schedule.
This freedom will lead to significantly less stressed employees who can concentrate all of their energy on the job, which leads to increased productivity. Different studies also show that remote workers use shorter breaks and are never late to work.
Hybrid office space is an economical office space. With less reliance on huge offices, companies will save thousands of dollars in real estate and maintenance. Organisations offering remote employment will also have a larger talent pool to choose from, as they no longer have to hire people local to the area.
Additionally, a remote work model can help build a crisis-resilient culture. With many employees already working remotely, your workplace can easily adapt back to a fully remote environment if necessary.
Disadvantages of hybrid offices
Even with all of those benefits in mind, a hybrid work model is not without its merits. People with poor internet access, no designated workspace at home, or serious distractions won’t benefit from this type of working arrangement. It’s also not suitable for frontline workers who need to be physically present, such as doctors, factory workers, and law enforcement officers. We should also mention that not everyone has the physical equipment to perform their work at home, such as a laptop or a powerful PC, a drawing tablet, etc.
A hybrid environment may put employees who cannot work in-office at a disadvantage to those that are there. Office employees have constant access to their managing staff (unless they are also working from home, which is rare) and can attend important meetings in person. Sure, people can join meetings through an online platform, but they are very likely to miss out on all the side conversations taking place before and after the meeting itself. The company’s support structures need to be altered in a way that doesn’t allow for the WFH employees to be lacking behind their peers for things that are out of their control.
Another major concern is that employees who are present in the office will be viewed as more valuable than those who work remotely since they can provide immediate feedback and input. Their work is more visible than the one of a remote employee. If a company decides to implement a hybrid work model, these concerns need to be addressed head-on, and the managing staff has to make sure that no one feels left out.
From the employers perspective, a big problem is the management of the different teams and maintaining productivity. It’s a legit concern, but the truth is that many useful tools exist nowadays that do all of these things. And to be honest, if an employee doesn’t want to work or report what they’ve been doing, they can do it from the office, as well.
Then there are the other potential problems as a weak cybersecurity system. Many businesses work with very sensitive information that includes personal data that needs to be protected. If an employee works with this data on his personal computer, there is a greater chance that this sensitive information is compromised, putting the whole company at risk.
Those scenarios and more underline the importance of a good action plan when implementing a hybrid workplace method. There needs to be a balance between the things which are important to the company and those that are important to the employees. At the end of the day, everyone is there to make money, and the mutual benefit and overall success of the business is something every single person there should strive to achieve.
How to use the hybrid work policy if you no longer have a physical office?
A lot of businesses have closed off their office spaces and moved completely remote in order to save money and keep their employees safe. Still, as we already mentioned, some things need to be done face to face, such as essential company meetings, training sessions, conferences, etc.
Of course, they can be organised online, but their impact and productivity will be a lot smaller. It’s one thing for a person to be able to concentrate on a certain task during his working hours, where he doesn’t need to communicate with anyone and not getting distracted is the main priority. Whereas a quarterly team meeting, where you discuss strategies and brainstorm ideas, everyone’s work is evaluated, is very different. To be efficient and productive, they need to be done in a physical space.
So what can a business do when they no longer have their office but still have a need for those types of company events? Very simple – hire a conference room or a meeting space. On our website, you can find many different types of meeting and conference rooms, private office spaces and co-working environments.
Whenever there is a need for an important meeting, a catch-up or simply a brainstorming session – hire a venue that will accommodate all of your needs. You won’t need to sign any long term contracts, you get to choose the exact space you need for your event, and if you have multiple things that you need to organise, you can do it all in one place!
If you’re still wondering whether a hybrid office model is the one for your business, take a look at our article that dives a bit deeper into the problem.
How to implement a hybrid workplace in 2021
So you’ve decided that hybrid work is the way to go. Great! But where do you start? What is in the middle? When is the end?? So many questions and so much scattered information.
Fret not, as we have gathered all the answers in our useful guide. You will learn about the best practices in order to achieve this type of flexibility, how to keep your employees motivated and productive, as well as the most important tools and programs you will need.
So let’s dive in!
Set a hybrid office policy
When the recent events forced many companies to switch to either remote or hybrid work, the hardest challenge many said was to guide the employees and implement this model of working. It was especially difficult for companies with staff that have never worked online since they didn’t know how to organise their time, be productive, report their work online, etc. This also led to the conclusion that many positions are simply not suitable for remote work, as we already mentioned.
The best way to ease your employees into a hybrid work policy is to set the right Guidelines that are always accessible and easy to understand
- Define the groups which are affected by the policy – Make sure that it is completely clear which roles are suitable for this way of work and which are not. Most of the time, for example, newly hired employees need to be present during their training period and cannot immediately jump into remote work. Create a list of the positions that are expected to be in the office.
- Set a defined schedule and communicate your expectations – These guidelines should also clarify how much freedom your staff have. Can they choose which days to go to the office, or there is a strict schedule that makes them come to work at least 2 times a week? If there are any fully remote employees, can they still go to the office if they need it? Are the WFH employees obligated to be at all the meetings, training sessions, and other office events? Make sure you have all the answers, and they are communicated clearly with all of the company, not only the ones who will be a part of the hybrid workplace.
- Guide your employees through the technological transition of the process – Are they expected to use their personal computers and connect remotely, or can they just bring the ones provided by the office? What tools and apps are needed for them to do their job without any disruption? You will probably use a lot of technology in order to complete the process, so make sure everyone is aware of what they are expected to do and how to use the apps chosen by the company properly.
- Choose a strong security system and make sure everyone follows it – It’s important to ensure that every single employee is aware of how important cybersecurity is. One of the best ways to ensure that there will be no problems with sensitive information is to make everyone sign a document where they consent to the security guidelines and agree to follow and keep up with them at all times.
Of course, some decisions need to be made by the higher staff, but our advice is to include your employees as much as you can in the whole transition process. It can be very helpful to put out surveys before you engage in any actions so that you know where your workers stand, what are their expectations and maybe even get some ideas that you can implement at a later stage. In summary, there needs to be an open discussion about all the decisions that affect the company on a global scale.
The managing staff also needs to ensure that there is an even playing field for all the employees – both remote and office. Many people will not have the choice to return to the office because of health or personal reasons. There can be no discrimination against them, and equal opportunities should be offered to everyone involved.
This includes regular communication with all the people working for the company, no matter if they are online or present at the office. Oftentimes, when there is a gap between the staff at the office and those working from home, the remote workers might feel a bit distant from the rest of their colleagues and the shared company goals and values. It’s the job of the managing staff to ensure that doesn’t happen through regular communication, meetings and collaboration platforms. All employees should receive equal attention, no matter their location.
Revise and configure your office space to meet the needs of the hybrid work policy
If half of your employees are constantly working at home, you’re probably left with some extra space in your office that you’re not really sure what to do with. When looking at how to make the best of it, go back to the initial reasons why you switched to hybrid work. Was it purely for the mental and physical benefit of your staff, to enhance productivity, reduce costs or something else?
Depending on your answer, you can choose the best way to use what it’s left. You can convert it into a collaborative space that boosts productivity, for example, an open space plan with rotating or stand-up desks that will motivate the employees to communicate with each other and brainstorm ideas. It can be a purely technical interactive space or a coffee lounge area.
These are all employee-oriented solutions, but what if you need to pay more attention to your customers and partners? Convert the space into an innovative meeting space, like a conference room. Or if the situation is the opposite and you’re left with too many meeting rooms, think about what you can do with them. If you have a partner company with a significantly smaller office, you can convert yours into a coworking space that can be used by other people.
As you can see, the main idea is the same – define your goals and set up the remaining space according to them.
Invest in the right technology
There are many tools on the market, some free, some very expensive, that ease the whole process of working remotely. But which ones should you go for? Do you need to buy more office computers, give them the ones already available or make your workers use their personal laptops and PCs?
In this guide, we’ve gathered all the proven remote work methods that are both efficient and secure. Take a look.
For Remote Access
One of the most popular ways of remote working is through a company VPN network. However, in recent years, more and more businesses sway from it since it’s not optimal, costly to scale to a hybrid or remote work office, and the overall performance is not very reliable.
The most viable and secure option is BYOD (Bring your own device) combined with remote access. This allows workers to connect to their office desktops through their Mac and Windows computers, sometimes even their mobile devices. Most software nowadays is either cloud-based or connected to a certain account name, so it can be used on any device.
So what are the important qualities of remote access software? The answer is easy – Cost, Reliability, Security and Ease of Use. Make sure to do proper research before you engage with a specific solution since many options on the market are very overpriced, bulky, hard to use and not nearly secure enough for remote working.
- Easy and fast scalability for hundreds of users, depending on how many people you’re working with;
- Multi-factor and device authentication;
- Single sign-on option, to ensure the security and compliance of your employees’ passwords;
- Support for non-office computers so that workers can use their own device and the software will not require continuing authentication from the company desktops;
- Easy setup and connection – just with a single click, to save time;
- The infrastructure and basic software updates need to be fully automated in order to avoid compatibility issues, security issues and losing time in manual updates;
- A high-performance solution that will support streaming HD video for meetings and other needs;
- No need to set up gateway hardware on each device and the ability for the IT specialists to control any occurring file transfers and print options;
- Software that comes with a simple report and monitor system, the ability to record sessions, and easy access to logs whenever they are needed.
In summary, these are the basic requirements that every company needs to ask for when they sign with a remote access software solution. For any other remote technology needs, it really depends on the individual company, its expectations and capabilities.
We strongly suggest that you look into the different options available, try out as many as you can (most of them come with a free trial), and then decide what is best for your business and employees.
Still, to make things easier, we have gathered the most popular tools of remote work right now so that we can jumpstart your research.
- Team management and monitoring – JotForm, Officevibe, Hubstaff.
- Real-time collaboration – Confluence, Microsoft Office 365 apps, Google Drive.
- Real-time communication – Slack, Discord, Skype, Zoom.
- Project management and reports – Trello, Workfront, ProofHub, Monday.
Setting up a hybrid workplace is no easy task, but in most cases, it’s definitely worth all the efforts. Just follow our guide, connect with your employees, research the best options for your business, and you should have an efficient working environment that values its workers as much as the clients. After all, a company is nothing without the people that work for it.