In light of the ongoing global pandemic, more and more organizations have shifted to hybrid work models. Like me, you may be a business owner switching from on-site to remote work models or looking to combine the two.
So, what are the different types of hybrid work models? There are primarily three categories of hybrid work models to consider: work environment, scheduling, and division of employees. Depending on where your company is coming from, you can consider one of those categories as a starting point.
5 Types of Hybrid Work Models
- At-Will and Remote-First Models
- Office-First Model
- Split-Week Model
- Week-By-Week Model
- Designated Teams Hybrid Work Model
Each hybrid model has its strengths and weaknesses. What works for big corporations may not work for smaller organizations. Furthermore, the same model may not be beneficial to businesses in the same industry due to their different workplace cultures.
The type of hybrid work model your organization will follow is up to you and your employees. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages, and consider how you can work around them. Whatever it is you choose, keep in mind the tips I’ve left for you. These can help you triumph over the difficulties of hybrid work models.
As Microsoft Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella, says in his LinkedIn post, “Our aim is to maintain consistent person, reference, and task spaces for all employees, whether they are on-site or remote.” Improve the consistency of your workflow and scheduling, and reap the rewards of the hybrid work model.
Choosing the best hybrid work model to fit your organization is no easy task. Luckily, this article will help you learn about the types of hybrid work models and their respective advantages and disadvantages. Later in this article, you’ll also find some tips on making the hybrid model work to your benefit. So, make sure to keep on reading ‘till the end!
Hybrid Work Models
LinkedIn surveys have shown that over 56% of workers prefer a mix of in-person and remote work. But before you make your transition, it’s crucial to consider the different types of hybrid work models. They can be differentiated depending on the:
- Work environment
- Remote-first / At-will
- Split-week model
- Week-by-week model
- Division of employees
- Remote team vs. on-site team
Hybrid Work Models According to Work Environment
First, let’s differentiate hybrid work models according to an organization’s preferred work environment.
At-Will and Remote-First Models
The at-will model and remote-first model are synonymous. They both allow employees to prioritize working remotely. However, with this work setup, employees can still perform on-site work. Physical coworking spaces and offices will remain available to the company’s workers.
This type of work model offers numerous advantages.
Employees can visit the office or stay at home according to their preferences. Those who work best at home can choose to do so, while those who prefer an office setting can freely visit your office building. This hybrid work model thus allows each worker to utilize the most efficient work practices for them, hypothetically optimizing your workforce.
Offices are also the perfect option for meetings and face-to-face discussions. Thus, maintaining one can be beneficial for businesses that regularly meet clients. Employees can utilize your office for meetings with clients, making the company more accessible to people.
Both hybrid work models require leaders to trust their employees’ judgment. After all, it will be up to them to decide when it’s necessary to show up at work physically. Employing these work models shows that you trust your employees and can bolster their morale. Cultivating this trust can also improve your relationship with your workers.
As Ajay Serohi, the current Staff Product Manager at Tesla, says in his Remote Working and Trust Issues article: “A true leader emerges from his ability to foster trust among his subordinates through reliability, honesty, and empathy.”
These hybrid work models also have their drawbacks.
While the at-will and remote-first models can boost productivity, they can also be unpredictable in an operational sense. Workers may visit the office together at a time, compromising physical distancing protocols. Additionally, unexpected visits can lead to overcrowding. If your organization has downsized your physical offices, you’ll experience difficulties managing the number of people.
Just remember to invest in an office because shared spaces are still relevant. We’ve written a more detailed article about the use of offices in the future, titled The Future of the Workplace – Do we still need a physical office?
- Improves efficiency
- Streamlines meetings
- Provides convenient spaces for collaboration and meetups
- Instills trust in employees
- Can be unpredictable
- Can lead to overcrowding
- Underutilized office spaces
Similar to the at-will and remote-first models, all employees can either work from home or work at the office in an office-first model. However, the office-first model requires employees to be more present in the office.
As such, the office-first model is much easier to implement. You won’t have to change protocols or set up too many digital adjustments. You’ll only need to tweak some parts of your policies, such as office attendance.
The office-first model works best for organizations whose productivity is dependent on collaboration. It allows teams to get their jobs done while also allowing some room for flexibility and individual work.
However, for some industries such as construction or manufacturing, the office-first model is the only viable choice for hybrid work.
This model may be counterproductive for companies that rely on individual and digital outputs. Additionally, the office-first model may reduce productivity for employees who live far away from the office.
- Encourages teamwork and collaboration
- Doesn’t require many new adjustments
- Allows flexibility
- Not applicable for a dispersed set of employees
- Not the most practical for companies mostly needing individual outputs
Hybrid Work Models According to Scheduling
There are also different types of hybrid work models according to schedule. The split-week and week-by-week models involve assigning team members to show up to the office at varying times. Let’s take a closer look at each of them:
The first of two schedule-based hybrid work options is the split-week model. This setup works by assigning days specifically for on-site work and remote work.
For example, one department can work at the office during the first half of the week. Then, you can assign other teams to physically report for the remaining days of the week. This way, your office won’t be overcrowded, and teams still get the chance to regroup and collaborate regularly.
If you’re up for an experiment, you can also try reducing your employees’ working hours per week. Unilever is only one of the many corporate giants that have had successful trials for the 4-day workweek. Microsoft also reports boosted productivity thanks to the new work schedule.
However, the split-week model can increase expenses for your company. However, you may need to shoulder your employees’ remote working expenses like increased electricity bills on top of the utilities and other maintenance costs for your office.
- Allows efficient face-to-face meetings
- Avoids overcrowding
- Maintains team dynamics
- Gives room for experimentation
- Increases operational costs
- Lacks inter-team interactions
If you don’t think the split-week model is right for your company, you can try the week-by-week model. In this work setup, you’ll be assigning work weeks when specific employee groups need to be physically present at the office. Then, they can spend the following weeks working at home.
For the scheduling, you can have select team members working fully at the office for a week. Then, for the next week, other team members can switch with them to physically report for work.
This type of hybrid work model is most advantageous for companies with a large number of employees. With this setup, you can drastically reduce the office space necessary for your operations and cut down on overhead costs.
The problem with the implementation of the week-by-week model lies in its lack of flexibility. Unprecedented problems may fall on weeks assigned for remote work. Also, urgent meetings can disrupt the weekly schedules.
- Good for large companies
- Implementation can be gradual
- Not useful for unprecedented events or meetings
Hybrid Work Models Depending on Employee Division
You can also follow hybrid work models according to employee assignments. So, we’ll simply call it the designated teams hybrid work model.
Designated Teams Hybrid Work Model
Another way to carry out the hybrid work model is to assign which teams should work at the office or home. This setup is best for organizations that require specific employees to work on-site.
For example, companies in need of safety checks like power plants and factories need on-site workers. However, administrative staff, IT experts, and sales representatives don’t necessarily have to be physically present to do their jobs.
This hybrid work model improves efficiency for employees who don’t report in-office. It can also save your company costs, as you’d be paying less for electricity and other utilities with half of your workers based at home.
But these benefits also come with some disadvantages. For one, it may create a rift between the assigned on-site employees and remote workers.
Those stuck at home may feel like their colleagues at the office are getting more opportunities and improving relationships with higher-ups. On the other hand, on-site workers may feel like the management does not tend to their needs.
However, these anxieties are not necessarily true, according to Tsedal Neeley, author of the Remote Work Revolution and the Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Research Strategy at the Harvard Business School. In one of her LinkedIn posts, she even goes so far as to say, “Considering remote workers as less engaged than their office counterparts is a dangerous and completely inaccurate perspective.”
While untrue, these anxieties can still be a problem. So, make sure to check on your employees. Monitor if you are maximizing their capabilities while promoting their growth. You can gain some insights on this topic from our list of the 7 Ways To Support Your Employees’ Personal Advancement.
With whole teams working at home, communications will rely largely on available technologies and internet connectivity. So, you’ll also have to account for those changes.
- Improves efficiency
- Reduces operational costs
- Applicable even for industries with labor-reliant output
- Can create a disconnect between on-site and remote workers
- Increases reliance on digital communications and technologies
You can also integrate other types of hybrid work models in the designated teams model. For example, you can give some employees the option to be remote-first, while others can be office-first.
Implementing Hybrid Work Models
Now that you know of all the options you have for a hybrid work structure, it’s time you learn how to implement it properly. Each hybrid model has its share of pros and cons. Some of these cons require solutions specific to that type of work model.
But whatever type of hybrid work model you choose, you’ll still encounter challenges due to the inherent difficulties of having a new work structure.
This section can help you prepare enough to make your chosen hybrid work model as manageable as possible. Some of these ideas may be highly suitable for some but not for other types of organizations. So, take these tips as they apply and don’t treat them as rules.
Invest in Cybersecurity
According to a report published by HP, there has been a 238% increase in cyberattacks since the pandemic began.
So, first, you should consider investing in cybersecurity. Hybrid structures constantly require digital communication. You’ll also be sending and receiving important documents online. So, make sure your networks are all secure and proactive against attacks.
Also, capacitate your IT department to strengthen your company’s cybersecurity. Investing in their training also allows you to solve security problems with ease once they do arise. While you will have to spend more upfront, reinforcing your security can help you save money in the future.
Ensure that your employees are aware of and can implement good cybersecurity practices on their own. All the best security software can be rendered useless by human error.
Improve Tech Support for Employees
Next to consider is employee tech support.
Equipping your office computers and networks with firewalls and other security measures may not be enough. As such, you should also improve individual cybersecurity practices. Check out our article, 9 Cyber Security Tips for Remote Workers, for more information. You can also send this link to your employees to help them read up on the topic!
Another way to support your employees is by providing them with the necessary gadgets and software. If you haven’t already, you can consider providing work laptops and business phones to hybrid and remote workers. Using company-provided laptops at home makes your files and information more secure.
Also, make sure all the software your team needs to function effectively is available to them. These provisions will not only improve security but also boost productivity.
Offer Wellness Breaks
Hybrid work models can also result in burnout for some employees. Remote workers may feel the need to compensate for their distance from the office by working longer hours.
So, make sure you schedule well-deserved wellness breaks for your team. These breaks can be in the form of informative seminars or quiet days off. If you plan on having wellness talks, here are some areas you can focus on:
- Stress management
- Exercise and fitness
- Proper nutrition
- Time management
- Work-life balance
Supporting your employees professionally also means you should help them realize their growth in the organization. You can do this through mentoring programs for improving your employees’ skills for their and the company’s benefit.
The more your employees feel empowered and cared for, the more likely they’ll stay and work efficiently.
In Why the Future of Work is Hybrid, and How You Can Lead In It, executive coach and speaker John Eades says: “I don’t see the ‘great resignation’ happening because of hybrid work policies, if it happens it will be because people are being overworked.”
Engage Your Employees as a Team
Hybrid work models can create a rift among teams. On-site and remote workers may also develop a disconnect from each other.
To prevent these from happening, you need to provide avenues where employees can engage each other outside of work. If face-to-face team-building activities are impossible or unsafe, you can conduct these online. Or you can also consider having a few mixer-type activities.
We’ve written another article regarding this topic, titled Top Team-Building Exercises to Foster Camaraderie and Collaboration. You can check it out to gain some insights on how to improve your team dynamic.
Update Company Benefits
Taking care of your employees also means giving them proper compensation and benefits. But what was sufficient before may no longer be appealing now. With more hours spent at home, workers are also facing an increase in utility bills. You can consider adding salary increases or utility compensations to your company benefits.
Additionally, remote work usually clashes with quality family and personal time. To prevent your team from getting burnt out, consider giving them more paid time off to tend to their personal needs and pursuits.
If you want more details on how to improve your hybrid work model, you can browse our other articles. We’re sure one of our favorites, titled Managing a Hybrid Workplace – Managing Expectations and Keys to Victory, can help you in one way or another.
- What does a hybrid workplace look like? Hybrid workplaces feel less densely populated than fully in-person offices. Most of these workplaces are simplistic but high-tech. The one requirement for a hybrid workplace is functional collaboration rooms.
- What are the benefits of a hybrid workplace? Hybrid workplaces allow flexibility for individual work preferences. It can redefine collaborative practices and reshape team dynamics for the better. Most importantly, when managed well, a hybrid workplace allows employees to be more efficient and productive.