How To Create a Hybrid Workplace for a Hybrid Workforce

How To Create a Hybrid Workplace for a Hybrid Workforce

The dynamics of today’s workforce have changed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, people expect choice—in the way they work and the devices they use to get their jobs done. 

Modern workplaces must be able to adapt, develop new ways of working, and harness new technologies to increase productivity and unleash innovation. This article will discuss how a hybrid workplace can support a hybrid workforce. 

With COVID-19 cases continuing to decline, the world has started to live in the “new normal.” Businesses, in particular, have begun to fully embrace a hybrid setup.  As employees return to the office, many companies are thinking about what a future without a strict divide between remote and in-person work will look like. 

To imagine your hybrid workplace, you’ll need to consider which things are better accomplished in person and which can be left fully or partially remote. 

Think “remote-first” 

It’s time for companies to embrace hybrid workplaces that embrace the new nature of work—incorporating open and collaborative environments, technology enabling mobile workstyles, and modernized workspaces that support wellness and productivity. 

When considering your employee experience in the context of a hybrid workplace model, it’s important that you keep the remote experience top of mind. As Microsoft Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan says, this is “your opportunity to truly redefine how you create an environment where people feel a sense of belonging, no matter where or how they work.” 

The “remote-first” model is a paradigm shift from the traditional office workplace. It’s about knowing who is in the office and who is remote, and ensuring that both groups have equal access to information, decisions, and support to be successful. 

The experience of working remotely over the past two years has allowed companies to refine their policies and design more inclusive workplaces that work well for everyone. Whether you currently have a hybrid team or anticipate going back to fully remote working — it’s time to step up your remote-first game. 

What are hybrid workplaces?

In the ever-changing world of work that has been drastically affected by the pandemic, one thing remains constant: The traditional workplace continues to evolve. 

As advances in technology and employee expectations reshape the way we work, companies are increasingly opting for a mix of onsite workspaces and flexible options designed to improve well-being, productivity, and collaboration. 

A hybrid workplace is a combination of working at home and working in an office. Such a place does not need to have all of your staff in the same location to achieve a common goal or complete a task. Just as important, it does not need to have all the employees at different locations with no idea when and where someone is working. A hybrid workplace is one in which you have some people who are mobile and some people who are stationary and remote. 

Hybrid workplaces allow both in-office and remote workers to interact virtually as if they’re all in the same place. It comprises a physical office location connected with remote employees who are either working from home or another location. 

The hybrid workplace is the workspace of the future. Whether employees are at home or in the office, they need flexible and adaptable furniture that makes their space suitable for a productive day. 

Thus, companies need to provide them with sit-stand desks, monitor arms, and height-adjustable chairs that allow them to move freely and work with comfort and ease. Some may balk at this “additional cost” but if these employees were working in the office, they would be provided with the right furniture and tools to make them more productive.  

A work-from-home setup for these remote employees is an extension of the office. 

Why do employees prefer hybrid workplaces?

As remote work becomes the norm, it can become isolating. Many employees prefer a hybrid work model because they can work remotely and still enjoy office perks like collaboration space and other fun in-house activities. It’s best if they can work in a safe space, meet with coworkers and collaborate with teams in person, and take breaks with colleagues. All of these can be had with a hybrid setup. 

Balance is important in all aspects of life. The same can be said for an employee’s workplace. Hybrid workplace environments that encourage some amount of working remotely have become the norm for many industries in recent years (even before the pandemic upended the world), as employees seek to gain a greater sense of independence and flexibility

From freelance writers to clerical workers, employees are increasingly choosing jobs that offer the ability to work outside a traditional office setting. 

A study of 500 employees in the United States and Canada indicated that, on average, 74% of people prefer a hybrid workplace model (four to five days in the office, one to two days working from home) for their primary workplace. Additionally, 59% of respondents said a hybrid model would significantly improve their work-life balance. 

Remote workers also reported lower stress levels and better health overall than those who work purely in the office. Removing the hassle of commuting to and from the office every day is the main contributor to that lower stress level. 

Hybrid workers say they feel more productive and satisfied with their jobs when they can have the flexibility to work from home or the office. This in turn gives employers access to a wider workforce. 

In the workplace, hybrid environments are ideal for fostering creative thinking and remote collaboration. Employees find that hybrid workspaces help build stronger relationships with colleagues and leaders, increase associates’ well-being and job satisfaction, and generally make for happier, more productive employees. 

Workers who want to maintain remote work but don’t have the choice to do so full-time are some of the most highly valued employees of an organization. Pew Research shows that 33% of American workers fit within this bucket, while a further 34% would like to continue with their current level of remote work (or more). With both groups accounting for 67% total, it’s no surprise that the hybrid workplace is emerging as the new standard in business. 

Why are more companies turning to hybrid workplace models?

We’re facing a new reality: The way we work has changed. Some employees have returned to their offices, while others have chosen to remain working remotely full-time. And they will likely continue to do so even after the pandemic ends. 

As companies consider creative new ways to keep employees closer and better connected, they are turning to hybrid workplace models as a solution. 

In order to adapt to the changing needs of their workforce, companies are starting to turn to hybrid workplace strategies. By offering their employees both remote and office options, companies can create a workplace that works for everyone. 

Employees want flexibility and employers want to save money. Far from being a compromise, hybrid work models can help attract talent, build community, and increase productivity. 

A hybrid workplace model, in which employees work both remotely and in a physical office or coworking space, can boost engagement by keeping off-site staff connected to the company and their colleagues. It also optimizes business costs by reducing real estate expenses and attracting tech talents that are based in rural areas. Employees save time commuting, have more flexibility, and enjoy the sociability of coworking spaces. 

How you can successfully implement a hybrid workplace

Believe it or not, there’s no special alchemy behind creating a successful hybrid workplace. At the core of this approach is remote work flexibility, just like you’re optimizing at home right now—with a few tips and tools to top it off. 

Time to stop winging it

The worst thing a company can do is to assume that their employees are okay with their present situation because they are not complaining. It is for this reason that it comes as a total surprise when resignation letters are received. 

Avoiding this is simple: Start really connecting with your employees, asking for their feedback on the workplace setup you are designing. Will they prefer to continue working from home? If so, what can the company do to make them more comfortable doing their job? If they want to go back to the office (because, hey, there’s air conditioning), what assistance do they need? Transport, packed meals, 

By knowing exactly what needs to be done and not thinking that the status quo is best, a hybrid workplace setup should benefit everyone. 

Technology is key

If you haven’t invested in newer technology in the past two years because of the economic slowdown due to the pandemic, now should be the right time to do so when everyone’s getting back on their feet. Newer laptops, more capable mobile devices, and a fast and consistent internet connection should be regarded as equally important investments as the workforce of any company. 

With the hybrid setup, you will have to make sure that those working at home will be effectively connected with those working at the office and with the company as a whole every workday. This is the only way to keep everyone on the same page and maintain an orderly working relationship. Much more important, it will ensure that communication channels with clients and other stakeholders remain clear and open. 

Don’t overlook who you can’t see

This of course refers more to those employees who would be working from home full-time. It’s easy to take them for granted or to assume that they have no issues or concerns about their tasks because they are working from the comfort of their homes. But they too will have their unique problems that would prevent them from doing their job to the utmost of their abilities. 

First and foremost would be technological challenges if they are made to work with (almost) obsolete devices and a crappy internet connection. It is the responsibility of the company to make sure that employees will not have an excuse for slacking or being unproductive for most of the working day. 

Offer options, but not too many 

Ever heard of the fable about a cat bragging to the dog that she had a lot of ways on how to escape from a predator? So the story goes that when a hungry animal did appear, the cat couldn’t make up her mind on what option to take and so, the predator was able to pounce on her. 

This might be an extreme example for an office setting, but the point is, when employees are given more than two options on what work setup they can take, it might cause confusion and hesitation or they end up choosing the most inappropriate option for their situation. To successfully set up a hybrid workplace, just offer work-from-home or back-to-the-office options. Then work with the employee to make their choice the best one for them. 

Ask employees what they actually want

Related to item #4, it is best to let the employees decide on what they think will be best for them. Would they want to work from home full-time or can they report to the office once or twice a week? And even if everyone decides to go for just one of the options, it is best to abide by their choice. It should be a given that the employees thought long and hard before making the decision because it is the one they think will be the most appropriate for their situation. 

Create a socially distanced office layout

Do remember that health and science experts think that COVID-19 won’t go away for the foreseeable future despite the shrinking number of cases reported in many parts of the world. So it would be most prudent to make sure that those employees who have chosen to go back to the office will be kept safe by providing some distance from one another while they work. 

This will minimize the chance of infection, should one or two turn out to be positive for the virus. Making sure also that every one of them has been vaccinated, and preferably with a booster, is another way of keeping the whole company safe and healthy. Following health and safety protocols at all times cannot be overemphasized. 

Help remote employees experience a bit of office life

As they say, variety is the spice of life. Remote employees will surely appreciate having a taste of office life from time to time. You can probably ask them to go to the office at least once a month, preferably on a Friday. Aside from being able to experience working at an office, they can also join their peers for some after-office-hours merrymaking or adventure. 

Equip the team

This doesn’t just mean providing the employees with the ideal devices and a great internet connection, but also mental and moral support that can help them endure and overcome whatever negative condition that the pandemic and two-year lockdowns have wrought over them. And this should be a recurring effort, not just a one-time-big-time thing. Psychological consultations and counseling should be a part of an employer’s responsibility to their workforce. 

Policies must support hybrid work

Company policies need to be updated with the hybrid work setup. Lunch breaks and coffee breaks, for example, should not be strictly enforced especially for remote workers. Even work hours need to be flexible. As long as it does not disrupt the overall productivity of the company and its deliverables to customers and clients, remote workers can be allowed to do their job at irregular times (possibly in the evening or early morning). 

Maintain your company’s culture

A company’s culture defines its character, which in turn creates its reputation with clients and customers, so making sure that employees embrace it no matter where they are should also be a priority. The best way to do this is to make regular touchpoints with everyone, either individually or as a group. 

When it’s the whole company that needs to meet, those at home can use apps designed for such a task such as Zoom or Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. It is important to give each employee the feeling that they are an important part of the organization even if they are mostly away from the office and that the company’s mission and vision become a part of their daily lives. 

Startup companies, most especially, can benefit from a hybrid working setup, even those that are yet to find a physical office to begin with. Today, it’s easy to set up an office, thanks to coworking spaces that have mushroomed precisely for the needs of startups. 

How Weremote can help you transition to a hybrid workplace

Coworking spaces cater to a hybrid workplace, offering members the opportunity to do their best work while still feeling the social connection of working in an office. They encourage face-to-face connections, which can lead to increased collaboration, inspiration, and productivity. 

Startups can rent a space within the area for a limited time and still enjoy all the basic functionality of a traditional office, such as meeting rooms, desks, electrical outlets, internet connection, and sometimes, even a pantry stocked with food and other goodies and unlimited tea and coffee. 

But not all coworking spaces are created equal. Some offer just the basic services, while others have additional amenities that can make a company’s transition to a hybrid workplace not just smooth but also fun. 

Weremote, for instance, provides not just office necessities, but also a myriad of features and amenities that should satisfy every company’s need. For a full list of Weremote’s awesome offerings for your hybrid workplace, you can click here

Final thoughts

Hybrid workplaces are a new phenomenon that can bring about a lot of change for employees. It allows people to have more freedom in their schedules and can improve their overall well-being, as well as decrease their commute time and costs.  

Hybrid working allows you to integrate flexible remote patterns while maintaining the environment, culture, and collaboration that make the office special. The office or remote option empowers your employees with choice, productivity tools, and security. 

To sum it all up, a hybrid workplace offers all the benefits of a large company but with the flexibility and freedom of working remotely. 

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