What is a hybrid office?
A hybrid office is a company format in which some employees work permanently in the office, some work remotely, and there are those who combine office and working from home.
The idea of a hybrid office is not new; some companies have been practicing this format for the past few years, even before it became mainstream due to quarantine restrictions. This approach was especially popular at IT companies, where some employees could work out of the office for extended periods of time.
The coronavirus pandemic demonstrated that many more employees can work remotely. People learned and got used to working from home, felt the benefits, and not all are ready to return to the offices for a full workweek. Employers have already been able to assess all the pros and cons of working remotely and are ready to consider the hybrid work format as the most effective solution.
Most companies are not going to give up the office completely. A November 2020 PwC survey of U.S. CEOs of major companies found that the office will still be needed because:
- It improves employee productivity.
- It is a place to meet with clients
- It allows employees to interact effectively within the company
- It preserves the corporate culture.
It’s a mistake to think that the transition to a hybrid office can be accomplished simply by moving some employees to work remotely. The new format will require more profound and serious changes – actualization of planning decisions in the office, the introduction of new tools in the process of personnel management, bringing the corporate education system in line with the latest trends of the industry, the use of new technical solutions that allow effective interaction both with people in the office and with colleagues, clients, and partners who are located remotely.
The first step to transition to a hybrid format of work should be a qualitative audit of the office space.
There is no universal hybrid office model; the ratio of groups of employees working remotely, working from home, and visiting the office on a schedule or at any time will be different in each company. One of the most common models is the ratio of those working in the office to those working remotely – 70% to 30%. But it doesn’t mean that this ratio is guaranteed to be the most effective for your company – it’s worth experimenting to find the optimal percentage of office and remote employees.
The role of communication areas in a hybrid office
A hybrid office has special requirements for the organization of areas for meetings and the teamwork of employees. While working remotely, many have become accustomed to communicating through a variety of video communication services, conducting quick meetings in online format. When they return to the office, they will still need to use video communication. Classic meetings will become hybrid meetings – meetings held in the offices will be connected to the remote users – whether colleagues, customers, clients, or partners.
The need for new meeting areas will grow – many employees will come to the office to participate in meetings, work in groups, brainstorm, and develop collaborative ideas. Conference rooms and meeting rooms should be equipped with all the necessary equipment for events of different formats. It is very important that the connection of the equipment does not take much time and does not require the participation of IT specialists. Besides the banal “time is money”, imagine the impression the client will make about your “serious company”, if out of an hour meeting you will spend 15 minutes figuring out how to connect everything. At worst, you might even become a meme – like the lawyer who had to prove he wasn’t a cat.
Users will be able to use their mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops) to negotiate, share content with both present and remote users, use familiar video services (Zoom, Teams, etc.).
How do you start the transition to a hybrid office?
The transition to a hybrid office is a multi-stage process that should involve the management and different departments of the company – HR, IT. It should begin with the following steps:
- Audit of the office space, including the existing architectural and planning solutions, the engineering and IT technologies used, the number of working places and meeting areas, the types of workplaces depending on the equipment and software used, the features of furniture solutions, the possibility of transforming the office space and infrastructure.
- Examination of the peculiarities of the company’s business processes. Structure of the company, functional responsibilities of employees, the necessity of their presence in the office, work in groups/teams, nature of the interaction between departments and individual employees.
- Determination of the number of employees who will work in the office permanently and those who will visit the office several days a week.
- Conducting surveys of managers and employees and analyzing the results – how many working days they would like/need to work in the office, whether all conditions are in place for working remotely, and identifying personal preferences. Drawing up a schedule of days in the office or introducing a system of flexible workplaces booking.
The results of these three steps will be the basis for the implementation of the entire project to build an effective hybrid office.
About the Author
Taylor Brouwer is an experienced writer majoring in the spheres of education, e-education, and business education. Used to work as a learning programs creator in a couple of companies across Virginia, USA. At this time, Taylor works as a content writer at the paper writing service Writemypaperbro.com.