Conversations in the hallway, greetings with handshakes and joint coffee breaks in the cafeteria have – since and for a while – been a thing of the past. The corona pandemic is forcing all companies to rethink the way work is done. The world has been thrust into a home office experiment and clearly, the workplace left behind will not be the same when it returns.
The ideas of work-life balance have been fundamentally shaped and changed by COVID-19. Some are happy to work in the office again, others prefer a mix of home office and office presence, or even rely on working from home altogether. This new work landscape is known as the hybrid workplace. As demand for it from employees is particularly strong, many companies are currently looking at introducing the hybrid working model.
But what are the opportunities and challenges of this new way of working?
More coworker satisfaction
Employees are given the freedom to decide for themselves how, when and – especially – where they work best. The hybrid model thus combines mobile, semi-mobile and office-based working and thus the advantages of all three ways.
The home office offers the opportunity to dress casually, cook healthier meals, spend more time with loved ones and structure your own daily schedule. However, working purely from home can also be isolating or distracting for many. Hybrid working counters this by giving employees the choice to come into the office. Flexible office spaces provide the desired atmosphere – for example, a quiet place without distractions or a coworking space to share ideas with others over a coffee.
Lower fixed costs
A hybrid office is versatile, offering spaces and areas designed to support and inspire employees as they perform a variety of tasks – including stand-up desks, inspiring lounges, soundproof phone booths and casual coffee areas.
If the number of employees who come to the office on certain days or at certain times is known, new capacities can be planned and thereby costs can be adjusted and reduced.
Safety in the workplace
In times of corona pandemic, the hybrid work model provides much-needed security by reducing the number of people in the office at the same time and creating physical distance. In addition, this work model allows flexible employees to commute outside of rush hours or stay in the home office if they wish.
Lack of separation between work and private life
Working outside the office entails different structures and processes and inevitably less active, personal exchange. Overcompensation for breaks taken or constant availability are increasingly evident among remote employees, blurring the boundaries between official working hours and the lunch break and after-work hours. When introducing a hybrid working model, companies should therefore focus on the company culture in practice – lived trust, open communication and productivity instead of registered working hours should form the basis.
Reorganization of office space and IT infrastructure
The decision to introduce the hybrid form of working also means restructuring the office space and IT infrastructure due to changes in capacity and employee requirements. They must have the same resources available and access guaranteed at all times and everywhere. Particularly due to the spatial and temporal distribution of employees, the security of corporate data must be additionally secured.
We are a team – at a distance
Active, physical and personal exchange inevitably takes place less frequently in the hybrid work model. Teams work together less often or never as a whole. This makes it harder to maintain relationships and a sense of belonging. The task of managers is therefore to organize regular team-building activities in which everyone – regardless of geographic location – can participate and have fun.
Switching to the hybrid way of working means setting the course for the future. The focus is thereby placed on satisfaction, trust and flexibility in order to achieve the best entrepreneurial results at the same time.