What is hybrid work? Everything you need to know

Woman attends video conference on laptop
(Image credit: Future)

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that the pandemic has changed the way we work, but it may not necessarily be a bad thing. Many office jobs have transitioned to a hybrid working model, but what exactly does this mean?

The trend has accelerated over the past two years, largely due to the pandemic, and it looks to be here to stay. Challenging the dated 9-5 office routine, the most common scenario is one in which a worker will be asked to travel to the office some days, and work from home on others. 

This can be implemented in a variety of ways: some employers prefer to dedicate days to office work, while others give the choice entirely to their workforce.

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Benefits of working from home 

Flexibility is one of the key aspects that attracts a person to a job, and hybrid working is high on that list. It brings together the best aspects of working from home without losing the benefits of an office environment.

When at home, a worker can typically work when they’re most productive. Some may want to start early, while others may want to finish late. This normally isn’t possible in an office setup where employers will typically work standard hours every day.

An employer may even be so flexible as to allow workers to choose their working hours, so picking up a child from nursery, for example, needn’t be an issue. This can be hugely beneficial to people in this situation who are now able to fork out less for childcare, which has the same effect as a pay rise.

Working from home also opens up the option to continue to work when an employee is sick. While they may have previously stayed at home to prevent spreading any infections, workers well enough to keep working can do so without losing a day of work.

The benefits extend far beyond workers, too. An employer that is open to a working from home routine will be able to hire talent from further afield, sometimes even across the globe. People previously unable to make the commute are now viable contenders for new opportunities.

Having fewer people in the office at any given time also means that companies can explore the option of downsizing. Occupying a smaller office space means fewer overheads, helping to generate a larger profit. It’s important to note that some of the money saved should be redirected to improving the working from home environment. This could include investing in more portable technology, or even paying your employees more in order to cover the extra household bills they are likely to incur working from home.

Benefits of office work 

While home working can be hugely beneficial to both a workforce and an enterprise, there are positive things to be said about working from an office, too. Because hybrid working combines both working styles, these often forgotten perks are available to employers considering a hybrid working routine.

For a member of staff, this could mean better time management. It can be hard to work set hours from home with distractions like deliveries and children blurring the boundaries, however being in a dedicated workspace for a determined number of hours can combat this.

There are also the huge benefits that come from working with other people. As human beings, we crave social interaction and being in the company of our colleagues helps our brains to continue developing social cues and interpersonal skills that we would otherwise miss out on if we were to only work from home. Regular video conference calls go part of the way to combat this, but these can prove tiresome.

Starting a new job from home can seem daunting, and knowing how to interact with your colleagues can be tricky for months. It’s easier to build a relationship with somebody in person; an office environment opens up the possibilities to spontaneous conversations that working from home would never allow.

Working in an office also allows you to gain access to your organization's culture. This broad spectrum ranges from personal development to support, and even includes out-of-work culture like social events and days out.

Finally, an employer has a responsibility to make sure that the workspace it provides is adequate. This ranges from things like temperature and lighting to the right materials and layout. Working in an office will usually guarantee a certain level of quality is maintained, while this can easily slip at home with a lack of definition between what’s work and what’s home.

Things to consider 

It seems like a hybrid working model could be the way to go, but there are some things to clear up before you embark on your journey. Trusting your employees to maintain a positive working attitude when they are out of your reach can be a huge concern to overcome, so there are a few things that any boss should do to prepare a workforce for those home-working days.

Above all else, clear expectations about an employee’s working hours is crucial. Reiterating the number of hours that they should work - and the ideal range in which they should sit - is a simple step that can eliminate a lot of confusion.

You should define other things, too, like what exactly working from home means to your company, and what any member of staff can expect in both their home and office environments. 

Clear expectations surrounding communications is also another one worth touching on. Do you expect your team to be in touch regularly to update you on their progress? Maybe you want to encourage conversations not related to work, too, to help maintain relationships. A good company will invest in the best communication tools: an email is great for outlining a piece of work, but an instant messenger is better suited to friendly chats.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!