It’s important to focus on what is best for your company and the employees who work for you. Many times, the easiest way to get what you want is to move to a hybrid office layout. When you choose to create a hybrid workplace, you’re empowering everyone around you.
However, most people don’t know if they want a hybrid office model or why a hybrid workforce is a great thing for them. Are you wondering: what is a hybrid office? If so, now is your chance to learn about it and find out why most employees like the hybrid work model.
What Is a Hybrid Office?
The first thing on most people’s minds is: what is a hybrid office? It’s become more common than ever. In a sense, the hybrid office model consists of some employees who work at the office while others stay at home to work. It allows everyone the freedom they crave to decide where and when their work is completed.
A hybrid office layout ensures that there’s a flexible workspace, and people aren’t necessarily assigned desks to sit at each day. That means, when it’s their time to work at the office, they can stop at any workstation and start their day. It also means you can set up specific desks that are designed for singular purposes.
For example, you can save money by only having one or two printers at specific desks. When someone needs to print things out, they can request time using those spaces. Typically, this means you should focus on hoteling office space software, which helps people see when certain offices are open. With that, this software can be used for other purposes, too.
The goal here is to have a flexible place where some people stay at the office to work. In fact, some employees prefer to work in the office. They might not have the space or quietness to work from home. Others may primarily focus on remote hybrid work but go to the office occasionally.
Some companies offer different combinations of hybrid office space. You might choose office sharing, where workers have a specific amount of time reserved for a particular area. Likewise, schedules can be set up to where each employee works at home one to four days a week. Alternatively, they might have flex time where they can take off to be with their kids or work outside normal business hours.
The Impact of the Pandemic to This Model and Employees
Since the start of the pandemic, most companies have had to make changes to stay in business. A majority of the adjustment required remote working. Because of lockdown orders by state, most organizations shifted to a work-from-home model or had a partial WFH setup. However, restrictions are loosening up in most states, so most employees have returned to the office.
With regional restrictions and capacity limits (only having 25 to 50 percent of the employees allowed in the space), some staff still work remotely.
Though the concept isn’t new and has been used by a few companies before COVID-19, the hybrid office model has quickly become the new normal. However, that means setting up the work-from-home policy now and creating a hybrid office layout that meets your needs.
On top of that, some employees enjoy working from home and find that they are still as productive (or more so) than before. They don’t want to go back to working in the office full-time and like the idea of a hybrid office space.
While the technology to create a work-from-home model has been available for years, most companies didn’t adopt the flexible work approach. One of the biggest concerns was productivity. However, with the pandemic forcing it, most organizations came to realize that it actually boosted productivity levels while lowering stress and cutting down on overhead and other daily business costs.
While there is still some uncertainty about adopting a hybrid office layout, the office landscape is permanently altered. There’s never going to be a densely packed office space again. While the office is sure to be the hub, most organizations are sure to allow flexibility when working.
In fact, the future might see satellite offices opening in smaller areas. That way, small groups can work at that office on occasion to help with building good work relationships and preserving the company culture.
Setup Hybrid Office Model
One of the most challenging parts of setting up the hybrid office model is implementation, but employee training is a close second. If you never before offered flexible work options, it’s new territory. As companies prepare their long-term plans, it’s ideal to include your hybrid office model policy.
Here’s how to set up the hybrid office layout:
1. Write a Policy
It’s important to put in place a hybrid office policy immediately. That way, employees can easily follow the guidelines and meet your expectations.
To do that, you must:
- Define your policy and who needs to use it - Be clear on which employees can work from home. Some jobs might not allow it. Outline the criteria they need to have and focus on positions that can’t be completed remotely. That way, people have this information when they start working for you; if they don’t like the idea of always going to the office, they might want to consider another position or company to work with.
- Create guidelines for in-office and remote work - Can remote workers be forced to go to the office a few days a week? Should they be allowed to always work from home? Do you have a customized policy for every employee? Are the managers primarily in charge of the remote work schedule for the staff? Could you have meetings and events where everyone must be present at the office? List all the possible scenarios and focus on the guidelines for each one.
- Establish expectations about work - Are you providing a company laptop or must employees access the work computer remotely? Can they use their personal laptops and connect to the organization’s network? What apps and tools must the team download or use to complete their tasks and communicate efficiently? Make sure that the employees know which platforms are used and the tools necessary to work from home. If there are separate costs for those, let the team know beforehand.
- Boost security - While security should be your top priority, it’s even more important now. Make sure you set up strict protocols and regulations regarding security. Each employee needs to understand the risks of working from home and what they can do to prevent them.
2. Reconfigure the Office Space
Consider the hybrid office space you have available. With fewer employees at the office all the time, you might be able to downsize to another office setting. However, most organizations choose to rework that space to fit your current needs and keep updated with the latest safety guidelines.
Therefore, you might choose to space desks 6 feet apart or turn some cubicle space into a larger break room.
Some companies focus more on remote working with employees coming in for special events or meetings. Therefore, you should focus more on collaboration to boost productivity. Alternatively, you might only see clients in the office now, so set it up appropriately.
Please remember that the headquarters should be a hub and embody your company’s brand. It might not see as much traffic as before, but it should still reflect your values and mission.
3. Choose the Right Technology and Tools
The hybrid office model isn’t the same as a traditional setup. Therefore, you need to know which hardware/software options are necessary. Are you providing the webcams, computers, headsets, and office furniture? Is the team responsible for having all of that at their homes? What software licenses do you need?
Here are a few elements to consider for your hybrid office space:
- Remote Access – Typically, remote work happens from the company’s VPN, but this might not be feasible for large companies because it’s harder to scale and expensive. Another option could be the BYOD for remote access. Staff can set up their own devices for remote working. Just remember that you have to focus on reliability, security, usability, and cost.
- Project Management – There are plenty of project management tools out there to help with your needs. Find one that meets your budget and offer it to everyone, making sure that they download and use it efficiently.
- Real-time Communication – Many companies prefer communication apps like Skype, Zoom, or Slack. However, Autonomous offers many great hybrid working solutions, such as JAM, its messaging system. You can easily send quick text-like messages to specific people or the whole group. When video conferencing is necessary, there are plenty of choices.
- Collaboration – Remote teams require a single place to collaborate so that everyone can access the same information.
- Management and Monitoring – The hybrid office layout must still focus on managing the team effectively. It’s easier to do it with the right software.
Though the hybrid office model must focus primarily on remote work, you should also think about the hybrid office space.
Autonomous offers many products to help you create the perfect working environment. The SmartDesk Hybrid can be put in each workstation. It easily lets people stand up while working and comes with different presets. On top of that, it already has space management or office hoteling software included.
With the Hybrid Office OS, you can quickly set everything up to show the hybrid office layout. People can request certain workstations or desks when they need to collaborate or use specific tools. That way, you keep costs down and keep more people at home where they are safe and comfortable.
Employees can also pick where they sit for the day. For example, if one office has a window, they might prefer the brightness and ability to see outside. Others might want to use a specific office chair or be closer to the break room. Regardless, they can find the space that helps them work more productively.
Benefits of This Model
There are many benefits of the hybrid office model, though there are a few challenges, too.
The advantages of a hybrid office layout include:
- More productivity – Telecommuters don’t have as many social distractions. They can also take more breaks to stay motivated and refreshed for the rest of the workday.
- Lowered Stress Levels – Statistics have shown that those who work remotely are happier and feel less stress. Even if they’re only working at home once a month, the benefit is there.
- Cost Savings – Employees can save money when they work remotely because they’re not eating out all the time for lunch or driving to work. With that, employers also save money because they’re buying fewer supplies and might lower their overhead needs.
- Less Employee Turnover – When your employees are happy with their jobs, they don’t quit as often. With that, you may be firing fewer people because they’re satisfied and more productive.
Along with the benefits, there could be a few drawbacks.
There’s often less face-to-face time, and that could lead to less collaboration or mental health strains. Therefore, it’s best to encourage collaboration through online means.
With that, some employees in a hybrid office layout have inclusion problems. Those working from home that day aren’t in the loop. Make sure to schedule some time to send important updates that everyone should know.
What is a hybrid office? It’s what’s on most people’s minds because of the COVID pandemic. Typically, people are now switching from working remotely full-time to working in the office and at home during the week.
While adopting a hybrid office layout is exciting and can bring with it many benefits, you must know how to set it up effectively. While most employees prefer the hybrid office model, it has to be done right to see the perks.
With Autonomous by your side, you can easily create the setup that meets your needs. Office hoteling is easier with the Hybrid Office OS, you can communicate efficiently with JAM, and you can buy and set up SmartDesk Hybrid desks for those working at the office!
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