15 September 2021/ rent_office_guide

Different types of hybrid working

After offices were forced to send workers home in spring 2020, businesses have had a chance to revaluate their workspaces. Are employees more productive at home? Is it more cost-effective to reduce office space? Can we offer home working as a perk?

Many businesses have decided to make home working a permanent option. In fact, UK businesses expect regular home workers to double from 18% during pre-Covid times to 37% post-Covid. And for many, home working won’t be the only option. Instead, businesses will create a hybrid solution to offer the best of both worlds – they can cut down on office space (and spend) whilst giving their teams a dedicated workplace when they need it.

Hybrid working is a relatively new term, and it has a few meanings attached to it. So, which kind of hybrid model is best suited to your business? Here’s a run through of the pros and cons of each.

Set office days

Some businesses with a hybrid model specify which days their employees need to be in the office. These set days could enable the whole team to come together for meetings and collaborative sessions. They could ensure the workspace stays within maximum capacity, or they could enable different teams to access the space on fixed days.

A study found that people who work from home one day a week see productivity increase by 13%. It is believed that being able to skip the commute means employees can dedicate more time to work. And with a set day, employees can plan ahead to make the most of their time working from home.

Pros

  • Regular office days mean employees have a strong sense of belonging to the company
  • Employees can benefit from a clear routine
  • Businesses can rent smaller office space to reduce overheads

Cons

  • Teams may feel disconnected if they don’t meet up
  • This doesn’t enable flexibility
  • Some employees may feel their schedule doesn’t match to the set days

Flexible hybrid

Some businesses choose to offer a flexible hybrid model, meaning employees can choose when they work in the office and when they work remotely.

Employees may select their own ‘office’ days based on their working pattern or their other commitments, like childcare and social occasions. Alternatively, businesses may set a minimum number of days that employees need to be at home or in the office. If they specify more days in the office (more than three out of five), this is called an ‘office-first’ approach, whereas if they specific fewer days in the office (one or two out of five), this is known as ‘remote-first’.

Many employees feel they should be able to make the decision for themselves. A recent Census found that 68% of people in the UK believe that businesses should give their workers the choice to work from home or in the office.

Pros

  • Enables employees to work in the way that suits them best
  • By empowering employees, businesses may be able to attract more talent
  • Businesses may be able to rent smaller spaces

Cons

  • It is more difficult to judge how much office space is needed
  • Managers can find it hard to know who is in the office and when
  • Businesses need to ensure the office is an appealing place to work

Role-based hybrid

An alternative way to create a hybrid model is to specify which employees work in the office and which ones work from home. This set up tends to suit larger companies that have people in a broad range of roles. For example, those in customer services could remain in the office to be able to answer calls, whereas those in IT could work from home and deal with issues remotely.

Pros

  • Businesses can confidently reduce office space knowing exactly how much they need
  • Everyone knows where everyone will be
  • Businesses can invest in the optimum equipment for each team

Cons

  • Teams can feel disconnected to others if they do not regularly meet
  • No flexibility for employees
  • Some employees have a commute whereas others don’t, which can feel unfair

How to decide whether a hybrid model works for your business

Hybrid models are attractive because they offer a level of flexibility and can help to reduce costs. Employees can look forward to lower commuting times and costs, and businesses can keep their office costs to a minimum, while using their hybrid set up to entice new talent. Having said that, there are some broader considerations that businesses need to make before moving to a hybrid model.

Company culture

One reported downside of a hybrid model is that it can hamper company culture. Without face-to-face interaction and the social side of work, employees can feel disconnected and quickly become frustrated by colleagues. This side-effect of hybrid and remote working can impact people’s motivation and engagement.

A Gallup survey found that those who work in a different location to their manager are 10 percentage points less likely to say someone cares them at work and five percentage points less likely to feel that their opinions are considered.

Connections between employees, including those in other teams, should be a priority for businesses considering a hybrid model. It is important to choose a model that will enable everyone to work well together, even if they are in different teams.

Inclusion and fairness

Research suggests that higher-paid roles are typically better suited to remote work than lower-paid roles. There are concerns that enabling some roles to work from home and others to stay in the workplace could further highlight this divide. As a result, people in lower salaried positions could feel discouraged.

Not only that, but some people’s homes are not as well suited to work. For example, they may have slower internet, children at home or a lack of space. As a result, some employees struggle much more when working remotely than others, meaning they may not perform as well.

Businesses should speak to their employees before switching to a hybrid model to ensure that everyone feels comfortable with remote work. It may be that offering a flexible solution helps you to better support all employees.

Managing performance

One challenge of hybrid working is ensuring that everyone is productive and progressing, no matter where they work. It is proven that employees can find it more difficult get the promotions they deserve when working remotely. Studies found that people who mainly work from home were 38% less likely to receive a bonus than those on-site full time.

This setback is likely because it is more difficult for managers to tell how well their colleagues are performing when they are not able to see and judge their engagement and commitment. Many businesses will overcome this by using surveillance tools. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 80% of employers use software to “track employee performance and/or online activity”. The consequence of such processes is that employees can feel that their managers do not trust them, which can lead to a feeling of disengagement.

Businesses should assess how well they trust their employees. If there are concerns, a hybrid model may not suit the business well.

Finding office space for hybrid businesses

Lots of businesses that transition to hybrid working will need more flexible workspace to support their chosen model. Serviced offices can work well. Often, you are able to rent fixed desks alongside hot desks for remote employees to use when they need to. Not only that, but a serviced office can carry flexible contracts that let you scale the space you need up and down more frequently that traditional leases.

Keen to see the kind of serviced offices in your location? Browse Realla now.