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How to Set Up a Hybrid Office (+ Whether You Should)

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Read Time: 10 mins

Many companies are asking "what is hybrid working, and is it right for us?" There's no denying that the way we work is rapidly shifting. You might be wondering how to adapt and what ways of working you should offer.

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What is hybrid working? It embraces a hybrid of remote and in-person work. (Graphic source: Envato Elements.)

If you don't offer flexibility, you run many risks. Your employees might leave for other companies. You might be unable to recruit employees that want flexible ways to do their work. Still, there are challenges to solve as we shift to new models.

In this article, we'll tackle the question of "what is a hybrid work environment?" We'll also help you decide if this setup is right for your company. You'll explore how to set up remote workers (and hybrid workers) and get tips for success.

What Is A Hybrid Office? (And Why Are So Many Companies Offering It?)

What is a hybrid workplace? When you hear this term, think "flexible." You might have come across a job posting labeled as "hybrid" and asked, "what is a hybrid job?" Hybrid indicates an option (or requirement) to split time between working remotely and in an office.

It's important to differentiate how companies set up for hybrid and remote work. The answer to "what is hybrid working?" depends on the company. Since each company defines "hybrid" differently, let's keep these ideas in mind.

  • At some companies, a hybrid office means that employees have a choice of how often to work in an office. They configure a hybrid workspace so that employees that wish to work in an office can.
  • At other companies, if an employee asks "what is a hybrid job?", they would learn that hybrid work requires being in the office a set number of days. This varies by company, but it's typically two to three days in-office per week.
  • Hybrid offices are physical workspaces built with hybrid work in mind. They're mindfully built to accommodate fluctuating numbers of in-office workers. 
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What is a hybrid work environment? It often includes flexible workspaces that are shared by team members. (Image source: Envato Elements.)

Keep in mind that these models are up to you to decide. You've got the choice to make in-office time mandatory or optional. You can also choose how often you expect your team members to come onsite. Your choice depends on many factors - including employee satisfaction.

Companies Embracing Hybrid Work

Many companies have used hybrid work as a way to ease workers back into the office post-pandemic.  Here are a few examples of companies who have implemented hybrid work arrangements:

  • Many tech companies have gone full remote, but Apple is bucking the trend. They've announced a hybrid requirement, with flexibility for four remote weeks per year. (It's worth noting that Apple has postponed this plan, citing a rise in COVID cases.)
  • Banking institution Citigroup's hybrid requirement calls workers into the office at least two days per week.
  • Nike's hybrid policy is a 3/2 approach, with three days in the office and two days remotely each week.

Keep in mind that these companies were all traditionally in-office cultures. It's left many of their employees asking "what is a hybrid job, anyway?" While companies search for the right arrangement, employees wonder how they fit into the vision.

As Apple CEO Tim Cook said,

"it's still very important to physically be in touch with one another because collaboration isn't always a planned activity."

Many CEOs cite collaboration and group work as a reason for the return to in-person work.

Still, many employees settled into comfortable remote-only arrangements during the pandemic. This has led to much frustration as their employees have called them back into the office. You need a calculated implementation plan to go from remote to hybrid.

Should You Set Up a Hybrid Office?

As companies answer the question, "what is a hybrid work environment, and is it right for us?they're sure to find a range of opinions. Consider these data points:

These statistics make it clear: the way we work is evolving. What's hybrid work's role? Employees are asking for it, and senior leaders are recognizing it. You can't simply sit still or else you'll lose the race for talent.

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What is a hybrid workplace? It means that conference calls include remote and office workers. (Image source: Envato Elements.)

Now that you know the difference in hybrid setups, we've arrived at a key decision: should you offer a hybrid workplace to your employees? Here are situations that I think a hybrid option makes the most sense:

  • Your company is in rapid growth mode. In these scenarios, processes and organizations are evolving so quickly that it's hard to keep everyone connected.
  • Your employees are asking for an office space. It's important to listen to employee feedback as you plan the future of your workspace. If your team identifies a need to have a dedicated collaborative space, it's crucial to consider that feedback.
  • Your company has always been an in-office culture. In this case, you can see a hybrid environment as a transitional period. It's difficult to go from totally in-office to remote-only. In this case, a hybrid office acts as a helpful bridge to the future.

Before you set up a hybrid office, ponder this question: why doesn't fully remote work for your company? When you bypass a remote-first option, you're sure to miss out on a significant portion of job seekers. Plus, you'll take on extra expense.

What's hybrid work's biggest weakness? It keeps your hiring base restricted to a specific area. After all, employees have to show up each week.

Don't forget: hybrid working is so much more than the physical space. You've got to adjust how the work gets done. Any type of transition requires change management. Read on to learn more about how to implement a hybrid workplace successfully.

3 Tips for How to Successfully Set Up a Hybrid Work Model at Your Company

You're an expert now on "what is a hybrid workplace?" If you've decided to embrace this as a workplace for your company, you need tips to succeed. Let's look at three principles to consider as you create a hybrid workplace for your company:

1. Understand the Demand

If you've explored the question of "what is hybrid remote work?" you're on the path to creating a space for your employees. Here's the challenge: how big should your office be, and how many employees will occupy it?

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Balance your hybrid space carefully, or you might end up with an overly crowded space. (Image source: Envato Elements.)

If you adopt a hybrid office plan, start off with some simple math. This will depend on if you require hybrid work, or simply make it an option. If it's a requirement, demand is simple to forecast. If it's an option, reach out to your employees to understand their level of use. Then, plan your office accordingly.

There are two risks you run while you build your hybrid office:

  1. You overestimate the need for workspace. This leaves you with too many open seats, and means you spend more on rent than necessary.
  2. You underestimate the need for workspace. You quickly outgrow the hybrid office you chose. Employees feel crowded or conflicted in fighting for workspaces. Frustrations grow, and they'll ask "what is hybrid work good for?"

Both of these risks illustrate the importance of demand plans. You can't simply build a hybrid office that assumes all of your employees are on-site 100% of the time. If you do, your company will overbuild for the needed workspace.

Many companies offer what's known as an area with "flexible workspaces" in their office. Typically, these are desk stations designed for sharing. Often, the office operates in a "first come, first serve" type mindset. Other times, employees book time with a calendar tool.

Remember that your office doesn't have to be large enough for your entire company at a single time.  You can always rent a flexible workspace or host an "offsite meeting." You can still bring everyone together regardless of the size of your office.

2. Invest in Hybrid Work Tools

Change requires adaptation. The shift to hybrid or remote work can't happen mindlessly. Instead, it needs tools and a new plan that acknowledges the differences. Tools and systems help you do just that.

Here are tools that you need to keep a hybrid office operating smoothly:

  • Office space scheduling. Remember, your office isn't designed to be full at all times. Based on our prior tip, the challenge is to know how many office spaces you need. It requires a tool to balance space reservations, particularly those coveted meeting rooms! Check out a tool like Skedda to give your team easy scheduling.
  • Employee survey tools. If you pass someone in the hall, it's easy to get their opinion. But if your in-office roster is always changing or you've got a large part of the team working remote, you'll miss out. Use a polling or survey tool to solicit every employee's feedback.
  • Video conferencing tools. It's a given, but its importance warrants inclusion in this list. Video calls can bridge the divide between remote workers and their counterparts in the office.
Remember: to embrace hybrid work, you need more than an office space. It takes a mindful approach to how to balance your hybrid workspace. Without these tools, work is sure to have more friction.

3. Talk To Your Employees - and Include Their feedback

As you've seen in this article, there are many decisions to consider when you adopt a new way of working. You might feel overwhelmed and uncertain as you answer "what is a hybrid workplace, and should we have one?"

There's one thing that can help you cut through this uncertainty: talk to your employees. It's important to consider their feedback about what works best for them. A great way to solicit feedback is to ask, "what is a hybrid workplace that works for you?" Or, "what does remote work mean to you?"

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What is a hybrid work environment that succeeds? One that includes employee feedback. (Image source: Envato Elements.)

Your employees are also willing to give you tough answers. Employees will point out the risks of going remote that you might not consider, based on customer or business needs.

Above all, survey and include your employees to build a sense of involvement. No matter what type of setup you land on, they'll know that you cared enough to ask.

More Resources For How to Set Up Remote Workers For Success

We're navigating a rapidly changing world of work. You might have come to this article to learn "what is a hybrid work environment?" Now, you know more about this way of working and if it's right for your company. 

Still, this has only scratched the surface of what it takes to succeed with a remote or hybrid office. It takes planning, particularly if your company has been entirely in-office historically. Check out these articles to learn more about how to setup remote workers for success:

Create The Office You (And Your Employees) Want to Work In

The world of work is changing. You're sure to hear "what is a hybrid work environment?" from those who count on you. Whether you go hybrid, remote, or remain in-office, it requires careful thought.

Now you know what is a hybrid office and if it's right for your company. Plus, you've got tips to make the most of your work setup. 

If there's one key takeaway from this article, make it this: talk to your employees. You'll learn their preference and the type of work environment that they'll thrive in. That leads to happy and productive employees, and that leads to growth.

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