What the hybrid workplace really means and why it matters
What do we mean by hybrid workplace? Bigger than any single work environment, it’s a holistic, people-first workplace strategy that enhances work-life balance, inspires greater productivity, and helps businesses increase efficiency and lower costs.
The future of work has arrived. Here’s how to make it work for you.
A profound shift in work has occurred. Traditional notions of the workplace, work hours, and employee engagement have all undergone a significant transformation – bending towards greater flexibility. The arrival of remote work, the rise of technology, and the changing expectations of employees have played a role, ushering in a new era of hybrid work.
For LiquidSpace, hybrid workplace is the very life blood of our brand. We are, afterall, in the Happy People business because we believe in empowering employees to work from where it works for them. Whether that’s in the corporate office, at home, at a casual space like a cafe, or in a coworking space.
The hybrid work model blends elements of remote work and in-office work, providing employees with newfound and unprecedented flexibility. Increasingly viewed as a powerful business strategy, the hybrid workplace achieves something any organization would aspire to – it creates a productive, loyal and happy workforce.
But not everyone is bullish on the term hybrid. A number of industry influencers have suggested hybrid isn’t the right word for the current world of work at all, that we should instead be focusing on terms like ‘distributed’ and ‘remote’. And while we don’t mean to be inflexible, we’re fully prepared to push back at this argument, and to encourage workplace leaders to embrace both the concept of hybrid and the word itself. Hybrid isn’t just distributed. It isn’t just remote. It’s both of these things and it’s more than these things. The hybrid workplace is the full continuum of places where people get work done, the complete work arrangement. It’s a mindset that is both people-centric and future-forward.
And, properly delivered, the hybrid workplace is proving to be boon for businesses of all sizes.
A whole new world of work
Employees today are interested in more than just what pay and benefits prospective employers offer. They want to work for companies that share their values.
Embracing “work from anywhere” is one such value. A hybrid workplace model delivers on that value. Tailor made for the way we work in the post-covid era, it effectively brings the workplace to the employee, offering a thoughtfully calibrated mix of traditional office-based work and remote work. Employees have the autonomy to divide their work time between the office and other locations, such as their homes, co-working, or other so-called third spaces. This approach relies on technology to ensure seamless communication, collaboration and inclusion among employees, regardless of their physical location.
The primary objective of hybrid work is to untether the workplace experience, fostering an ecosystem of work environments that meet the diverse needs and preferences of employees. It acknowledges that individuals have varying work styles and responsibilities outside of work, and provides them with the flexibility to choose when and where they need to work in order to optimize both their productivity and wellbeing.
At LiquidSpace, our mission is to help organizations reconceive their workplaces to be more economic, more equitable, and more conducive to work, and to give their employees the freedom and choice to work from anywhere.
Don’t call it remote work
Remote work is a term often used to describe the new workplace normal. But remote work represents only one subset of a fully realized hybrid work model. Hybrid workplace strategically combines remote work with in-office work. It can be compromised of home, on-demand workplaces, third spaces and traditional corporate campuses. Face-to-face meetings are highly valued. Employees are encouraged and incentivized to get together to collaborate, team build and celebrate shared achievements.
Components of a hybrid workplace
- Flexibility in work arrangements: Employees have the freedom to choose when and where they work, whether from the office, home, or other remote locations. This flexibility allows them to align their work and their personal circumstances, leading to increased job satisfaction and improved work-life balance.
- Integrated technology: Seamless integration of digital tools and platforms is crucial for the success of any hybrid workplace. These technologies facilitate collaboration, communication, project management and information sharing among remote and in-office teams, enabling smooth workflow regardless of location.
- Hybrid schedules: The hybrid model involves establishing a structured schedule for in-office days and remote work days. Teams may have set days to come into the office, fostering a sense of routine and predictability while still allowing for flexibility.
- Office redesign: The physical office space is reimagined to accommodate a fluctuating number of employees. The focus is often on creating collaborative spaces, meeting rooms, and areas conducive to teamwork, while providing options for private, focused work.
The Hybrid Workplace Dividend
In a previous Hybrid Workplace Index, we discussed the Hybrid Workplace Dividend, referring to the benefits companies and their employees experience when implementing hybrid work models, utilizing flexible coworking spaces, and decreasing dependence on long-term leased offices. It encompasses the advantages gained from increased employee productivity and wellness, cost savings, agility, and the ability to adapt to changing work dynamics and preferences.
The hybrid workplace dividend is not just a concept; it is a tangible reality for a growing number of companies and their employees. By strategically blending traditional office spaces with on-demand coworking options, companies can unlock unprecedented cost efficiencies while empowering their employees to thrive in a dynamic and collaborative work environment.
A recent Gallup workplace study also identified several advantages to hybrid work from both the employee experience and performance perspectives.
1) Enhanced productivity
A hybrid workplace promotes productivity by allowing employees to match their work environment to their preferences and needs. Some individuals thrive in the collaborative atmosphere of an office, while others excel or simply need the relative quietude of their homes. Supporting choice enables workers to customize and optimize their work settings, leading to increased efficiency and higher output.
A reduction in commuting time on remote work days also contributes directly to productivity. Employees are able to reallocate commute time to work-related tasks, personal development, or even simply recharging, resulting in a less stressed, more energized and focused workforce.
2) Improved work-life balance and alignment
Balancing work and personal life is a paramount concern for employees. The hybrid workplace addresses this by offering individuals the freedom to structure their workday around personal commitments and non-work related responsibilities. They can attend to family needs, pursue hobbies, or engage in self-care without compromising their professional responsibilities or putting their jobs at risk.
This improved work-life balance not only enhances job satisfaction and overall happiness but also translates into greater dedication and loyalty towards the organization.
3) Cost savings
For any business, a hybrid workplace offers substantial cost savings. With a portion of the workforce working remotely, companies are able to decrease their expenditure on office space, reduce their real estate footprint and otherwise curb infrastructure costs such as utilities and maintenance. This can be particularly significant in expensive urban areas where real estate costs are high.
4) Attracting and retaining talent
The flexibility and autonomy associated with a well-executed hybrid model make an organization more attractive to potential hires. Many professionals prioritize flexible work arrangements and view them as a significant factor when considering a job opportunity. By offering a hybrid workplace, companies widen their pool of prospective candidates and improve their chances of attracting top talent.
Furthermore, existing employees are more likely to stay with a company that accommodates their lifestyle and preferences, contributing to higher employee retention rates and savings on recruitment and onboarding costs
5) Increased employee engagement
Employee engagement is a critical factor in organizational success, and the hybrid workplace model can significantly boost it. By granting employees the freedom to choose their work settings, the organization demonstrates trust and respect for their autonomy. The trust is reciprocated with increased commitment, engagement, and a strong sense of ownership towards their work and the company’s goals.
Additionally, the flexibility allows employees to align their work with their peak productivity hours and personal circumstances, resulting in a more engaged and motivated workforce.
6) Environmental benefits
A less talked-about advantage of the hybrid workplace is its positive impact on the environment. Fewer working commuting daily results in a substantial reduction in carbon emissions and overall pollution. This aligns with company ESG goals, positioning organizations as socially responsible and appealing to environmentally conscious employees and clients. Providing true workplace choice makes employees and the planet smile!
Embracing hybrid challenges
Hybrid work may offer organizations a powerful USP when it comes to team productivity, employee recruitment and operational efficiency, but it is no panacea. The same Gallup study identified a range of challenges connected to hybrid arrangements, from ensuring employees have the right tools to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, to helping remote-based workers feel connected to the organization’s culture. Disrupted processes and impaired collaboration were also cited as hybrid-related challenges.
And yet, every challenge is an opportunity in disguise.
A successful hybrid workplace implementation can renew an organization’s focus on employee needs, providing better coordination of resources, both at home and on-site. Home offices can be viewed (and resourced) as fully functional, permanent work-stations that maximize personal productivity. On-site offices and conference rooms can be equipped to be both remote-capable collaboration-friendly, so that remote participants are fully included in team interactions.
More importantly, hybrid leaders must strive to find ways to connect distributed team members to foster sense of belonging and connection. This may involve spending meaningful time together in the office collaborating and building relationships. It will invariably require more extensive coordination of meetings and schedules, from determining when others are available and in the office to figuring out how to lead hybrid meetings with part of the audience online.
Productivity, collaboration and culture can all happen in different formats and forums, but getting their requires forethought and planning.
What is the hybrid workplace? It’s not about the office versus remote or the office versus home. It’s about understanding workplace as the sum of all of these workplaces. And as we’ve argued above - the greatest advantages of hybrid work far outweigh the biggest challenges. As organizations continue to navigate the changing landscape of work, embracing both the term “hybrid workplace” and the concept is a strategic, people-first choice that can boost productivity, foster employee well-being, enhance recruitment and retention, and drive sustainable business growth.
The role of workplace isn’t what we thought it was. Turns out, it can be infinitely better.
At LiquidSpace, we are in the happy people business. Our purpose is to change the environment of work for good, because we believe that when empowered to work from where it works for them, people are able to thrive. That could be at the office, it could be at home, or it could be in a local coworking space, hotel lobby, or cafe. We refer to the continuum of places people work as ‘hybrid workplace’.