What is hybrid working?

Hybrid workers have the best of both worlds. They spend less time commuting, yet don’t miss out on being part of the office. Before the pandemic, 65% of organisations didn’t offer any form of hybrid working.1 But industry experts have predicted this figure will fall to just 37% as businesses compete to attract candidates.

This dramatic shift towards hybrid working over the past 2 years has no doubt instigated a massive cultural change in most companies. With some transitioning better than others. Nevertheless, this new way of working is here to stay, so those that have been left behind will need to adapt if they want to remain competitive.

Hybrid worker checking her laptop from her sofa at home.

Advantages & challenges of flexible working

Hybrid arrangements have the following advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of hybrid working

A hybrid team experiences the following benefits:

  • Greater flexibility: Employees usually prefer working on a flexible versus fixed schedule. That can mean during hours that are better suited to their needs or starting at a time that’s aligned with their productivity levels.
  • Better work-life balance: Having the opportunity to work from home, reduces the daily stresses of being in the office and having to juggle professional and personal responsibilities.
  • Improvements in wellbeing: Commuting can take its toll on your employees’ energy levels, especially if they’re catching a train or driving to the office 5 days a week. Reducing this is one of the key benefits of hybrid working.
  • Everybody saves money: By allowing employees to work from home they save on the costs associated with lunch and transport — and you could potentially spend less on office space. It’s not uncommon for companies to downsize their office space, knowing it’s unlikely they’ll be at full capacity.

Challenges of hybrid working

The challenges of a hybrid work schedule are:

  • A change in communication styles: With more people working from home, informal corridor or water cooler chats will dwindle. However, you can still retain the benefits of spontaneous conversation with instant messaging tools.
  • Extra work to sync schedules: Scheduling when employees come into the office may require additional resources — depending on the size of your company.
  • It doesn’t work for some businesses: Unfortunately, a hybrid model of working just isn’t suitable for everyone. Some industries need their staff to work on-site at all times.
  • A hybrid working arrangement may contribute to stress: Everybody is different and working from home can be very stressful for some people. For this reason, you should create a separate HR policy that focuses solely on remote employee wellbeing.

Hybrid worker enjoying music during a productive work session


How can a hybrid working model impact on the employee lifecycle?

Obviously remote and flexible working arrangements were already in place long before the pandemic, for example, in knowledge-based industries, such as health and biotech.

But more recently remote working has become more mainstream. Consequently, shouting about your flexible working policies will give you a competitive edge over companies who don’t. So, keep this in mind when you’re posting job adverts to LinkedIn or Indeed.

The onboarding stage can be slightly more challenging if you’ve recently switched to a hybrid work model. At a minimum, you’ll need digital onboarding tools to ensure new joiners receive the support they need.

Finally, depending on your company culture, some employees may thrive being at home, whereas others may grow disengaged and disconnected. For this reason, it’s important to virtually check in with your teams. Making a habit of this keeps remote employee engagement high and extends the amount of time people spend in the retention stage.

Learn how to keep your company culture alive with our remote culture checklist

Tips to create an effective hybrid working policy

Creating a hybrid working model that allows employees to work remotely a few days a week has prerequisites, including specialist policies, processes, and technology.

Before you begin to implement any hybrid working policy, we recommend:

Surveying your employees

To introduce an effective hybrid working model, you need to know what your teams need. This is why we always recommend involving employees from the very beginning of the planning process.

Questions you should consider asking are:

  • Would you work in the office to gain more focus, or to collaborate with your teams?
  • How many days a week do you feel you need to work in the office?
  • If the office is a considerable commute away would you prefer working in a satellite office closer to your home?

Employees meeting before conducting a hybrid work survey

Investing in technology that supports hybrid working

Hybrid teams need to reach each other regardless of where they’re working. So, it’s crucial you have the right infrastructure in place before adopting a hybrid work model.

Management HR tools to facilitate hybrid work

Video conferencing for meetings: You’ll need to think about how many employees will be on a video conference call at a time, as well as the length of your longest meetings. Ease of use is another important factor.

Instant messaging tools: All remote workers use some form of instant messaging to stay in touch with each other, Slack is an example of this.

Digital performance reviews: There are several Human Capital Management (HCM) systems that support a digital performance review process, one example is Workday.

Employee data management: From payroll to personal employee data, you’ll need a system that can easily access and retrieve this information.

Employee experience tools

The nature of hybrid work can come at a cost to culture. We’re social beings after all and secluding ourselves away from our colleagues has an impact on the relationships we form with them. But fortunately, there is something managers can do to stay in touch with their teams.

A digital platform that helps with the employee experience, for example, gives your organisation the cultural benefits of having a full office, despite most people working from home. What’s more, as this tool can facilitate communication between all employees who are working remotely, it’s easier to stay in touch with international colleagues too.

With Perkbox, employees can send each other customised recognition anytime, anywhere. Managers can also send points, which makes rewarding star performers efficient and easy.

These points can be exchanged for a range of exciting rewards from global brands, which makes Perkbox ideal for international organisations.

Another issue companies face is creating a sense of togetherness with so many employees working from different locations. From changes in benefits to reminders of international public holidays, keeping a global workforce in the loop has a range of challenges.

This is why we developed a smart centralised platform to contain everything from company news to quick updates — be it an upcoming social event or a recent town hall meeting. The visual cards can support a variety of attachments, plus a range of templates — with the option of starting a unique card from scratch.

Hybrid employee waving at her computer screen while working from home

Understand potential legal implications

Before you make any changes to where and when employees work, you may need to update your flexible working policy. This could mean creating a specific category that includes hybrid working — or, introducing hybrid working as a separate policy altogether.

Don’t forget, it’s also possible to arrange a hybrid working schedule more informally without making any changes to employment contracts.

When drafting a policy for hybrid work, you need to think about:1

  • How employees can request remote work
  • The contractual location of the office — this may not always be necessary
  • Advising your employees on any tax implications if they choose to work for a period of time outside of the UK

4 types of hybrid work models

Your actions will differ depending on the hybrid work model you’ll introduce. Examples of hybrid working include:

1. Hybrid-flexible

Employees have full autonomy over the days they come into the office. This means if they need more focus time at home they’ll work remotely. There are no fixed days when they’re needed in the office.

Pros of the hybrid-flexible approach

  • Gives employees the most amount of freedom and flexibility
  • Demonstrates trust, which is a great employee experience
  • Reduces the need for office space as employees will likely work from home more

Cons of the hybrid-flexible approach

  • Could impact on team meetings if not properly managed
  • HR can’t easily find out who is in the office
  • Culture could be put at risk if employees forget to stay in touch with each other

HR professionals meeting to discuss a new hybrid work strategy

2. Hybrid-fixed schedule

When an organisation closes their office on specific days of the week they are operating a hybrid-fixed schedule. Friday tends to be the most popular day organisations choose for employees to work from home.

Pros of the hybrid-fixed approach

  • Makes collaboration easier as everyone knows when the office is closed
  • Employees may find it easier to schedule personal appointments around a fixed working schedule
  • HR can accurately calculate and predict office capacity

Cons of the hybrid-fixed approach

  • Not individualised and some employees may find little value in working from home on a day that doesn’t suit them
  • Potential losses in productivity, particularly if employees are forced to work from home when they don’t want to
  • An inability to reduce existing office space

Hybrid worker standing in front of a busy office.

3. Hybrid-office-first

Generally, with a hybrid-office-first approach employees are expected to be in the office. However, they can choose to work from home a few days a week. A manager will usually have a conversation with their teams to organise who works from home and when.

Pros of the hybrid-office-first approach

  • Has a high degree of flexibility
  • Colleagues still see each other due to remote work being coordinated
  • A distinct boundary between work and home schedules

Cons of the hybrid-office-first approach

  • Employees may need to compromise on the days they work from home when schedules conflict
  • HR will find it difficult to forecast who is in the office and when, as managers set the schedules according to team need
  • Culture could be affected because employees see each other less

Blurry people moving around a busy office.

4. Hybrid-remote-first

This hybrid-remote-first approach is very similar to a fully remote working schedule. Employees only visit the office for infrequent team or client meetings. In fact, a business may not need a permanent office and rent a temporary space for colleagues to meet.

Pros of the hybrid-remote-first approach

  • Great for employees who want to work on their own schedule, but would feel disconnected if they were fully remote working
  • Completely eliminates the need for an existing office space
  • Businesses can save additional money on overheads, such as energy bills and office equipment

Cons of the hybrid-remote-first approach

  • Employees may grow isolated if they’re not used to working on their own
  • Managers will have to think of innovative ways to keep culture alive
  • Mentoring junior employees could be challenging due to a lack of contact time

A hybrid worker on her laptop while sitting at home on the couch


Is the workplace of the future hybrid?

Yes, and we’re beyond the point of turning back. According to a recent hybrid working report by Cisco, many organisations will need to completely overhaul how senior managers communicate with their teams.2 Especially managers of large departments who can easily become disconnected from more junior employees.

Generally, most companies will need to invest in better comms technology while also re-evaluating their hybrid work model where necessary. Moreover, taking steps to ensure their version of hybrid work is accessible to everyone, will require rethinking current definitions of wellbeing and work-life balance.

Find out how Perkbox can help you develop an engaging hybrid work model

Hybrid working: your FAQs answered

How does hybrid working work?

A hybrid working model supports people who gain value from working at home and in the office. Hybrid working takes many forms and the key difference between each one is the level of agency employees have over the days they choose to work from home. At one extreme, a more flexible hybrid model gives employees full autonomy over their schedules. Whereas a hybrid-office-first schedule is usually drawn up by a manager who works with their teams to decide which days everyone works in the office.

What are the advantages of hybrid working?

Are hybrid workers happier?

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