The hybrid work model is gaining popularity more now than ever! So what is it exactly and how can it best work for growing success? Read on now.
You’ve heard of remote work, and you’ve (probably) heard of offices. Hybrid work models try to make the best of both by giving employees (and employers) the opportunity to either work-from-home, work-from-anywhere, or work in the office.
Yet there’s more to a hybrid work model than simply giving select employees the chance to work from the comfort of their home office or a nearby café due to extraneous circumstances.
Companies that adopt a hybrid work model put serious investment into improving their remote work infrastructure, treating remote and office workers equally, and changing the structure of their company to make it easier to work from anywhere.
Types of Hybrid Work Models
Hybrid work models are usually differentiated based on how heavily a company leans towards office-based work or remote-based work. In general, hybrid work models are either:
- Remote first: These companies prioritize the shift towards remote work and place a heavy emphasis on allowing employees to work from anywhere. Remote first hybrid work models still leave space for an office as a central location to host clients, schedule annual meetups, help with onboarding, or to be used exclusively for teambuilding activities and brainstorming sessions.
- Office-occasional: Companies that adopt an office-occasional hybrid work model are more heavily invested in their office spaces yet are still largely operating remotely. In these cases, employees may be encouraged or prescribed to come to the office at least once a week, rather than reusing office space for purely physical interactions between departments and clients or for community-related events.
- Office first: These are businesses that are hybrid in name only, requiring most employees to come work in the office (as soon as it’s allowed) while providing the option of working from home, or anywhere else. This option isn’t as attractive as it might be in other businesses, though, because there isn’t as much of an investment in making sure that remote work is both efficiently organized and made effective via better internal digital infrastructure.
Hybrid vs. Remote Work
The main difference between hybrid work models as adopted by companies like Quora and Dropbox, and purely remote companies like WordPress, is that the former still has real estate for employees to interact occasionally, while a company like WordPress is entirely, utterly, and completely remote.
A true remote-only business may have a virtual address, which acts as a placeholder corporate office to provide a place for packages to be sent and relayed to an employee or manager’s private address, or to receive and redirect communications and correspondence. But most if not all of their workforce will be working from a place of their choosing.
Making Hybrid Workspaces Work
To make the most of the hybrid work model, we need to address their weaknesses.
The strengths of a hybrid work model are obvious:
- Greater flexibility.
- Lower costs.
- Pulling talent from all over the globe.
- Working across the clock, in multiple time zones.
- Work focused on deliverables and task-oriented progress, rather than hours.
But there are a few weaknesses to address, as well. These include:
- Struggling to build cohesion.
- Harder time developing work culture.
- It’s not easy to be recognized.
- Harder to pinpoint the overachievers.
- Asynchronous cooperation can slow certain projects.
- Office-based workers may be more heavily rewarded.
- Bias towards showing up physically.
Focusing on Remote-First
While internal factors and certain circumstances might ultimately dictate which model best suits your company and your needs, remote-first hybrid work models have far fewer issues to deal with, and by focusing on remote work first, you eliminate a lot of the issues that come with hybrid work models – such as turning remote workers into second-class workers, and introducing a loaded option with the ability to work-from-home, albeit with fewer perks and a less consistent company experience than office work.
It’s also significantly cheaper for smaller companies and start-ups to adopt a remote-first hybrid work model. This type of work model also easily scales with fast growth and allows start-ups to rapidly adopt and absorb new talent while relatively keeping down their costs.
Meanwhile, established businesses do have an easier time making a real choice between remote-first and office-first hybrid work models. But even for them, the choice to go remote-first may still prove more beneficial as it would allow them to expand even faster, develop better perks for their remote workers, take much better advantage of the flexibility afforded by switching to a hybrid work model, and still leverage the benefits of their existing office space for important meetings, introducing and talking to clients, onboarding new team members, and much more.
Adopting the Hybrid Work Model Without Office Space
Start-ups and small-to-medium enterprises can emulate many of the benefits of a larger office or adopt a hybrid work model without having an office of their own via coworking spaces.
This way, you can introduce a true work-from-anywhere policy, giving team members all over the world the option to work for you from their nearby coworking space on the company’s expenses, and collaborate with nearby talent by scheduling brainstorming and meetup sessions every few weeks via coworking spaces, which in turn serve as a sort of satellite office for the company.
Flexible leases also mean that companies can reduce their commitments even further, leasing space only when needed, and otherwise saving themselves the costs of having an empty or near-empty office in any given city or global region.
The hybrid work model is the most likely work model for the future of workspaces. Companies are unlikely to want to abandon the benefits of having a physical office to go to, whether for the sake of professionalism, group meetings, coordination, or to host clients.
But regardless of extraordinary factors such as a pandemic, remote work has been on a rapid rise for years, and start-ups, in particular, would benefit heavily from the financial and organizational flexibility afforded by a partially or fully remote work model.