Around the world, businesses are rethinking the way we work. The pandemic has upended established routines, abruptly enrolling us in a global experiment in remote working. The results were unexpected. Many employees have said that working from home has made them happier and more productive, and that when we return to the workplace, things can’t be the same as they were before.
What many companies are converging on is a mixture of remote working and traditional office working, known as the hybrid workplace. A hybrid workplace exists when a business allows their employees to work either remotely or from the office. In a typical hybrid workplace, employees have the choice of working in a central office, working from home or splitting their time between the two.
A hybrid workplace can also have some of the physical characteristics of a flexible office
space. Workers in a hybrid office can choose the area of the office that best suitsthe type
of work they need to do at that moment, whether it’s focusing on a task in a quiet zone or
getting up to speed with colleagues over a coffee.
More importantly, the hybrid office gives workers the complete freedom to choose where and
when they do their best work. Let’s take a look at how this trend took off and consider some
of its advantages and disadvantages.
In October 2020, Reddit announced a major change in how the company operates. Months into
the COVID-19 pandemic, and with most of the social media giant’s workforce already forced to
work from home, Reddit decided to permanently shift to a hybrid workplace model. The
company’s employees now have the flexibility to work wherever they want – they can choose to
do their job at the office, from home or a mix of the two.
Historically, some managers viewed hybrid working with a degree of suspicion, believing that
if employees could pick and choose the hours they worked, they would simply choose to do
less work. This turns out to be unfounded. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. In a
research paper by Microsoft on the impact of the
pandemic on the performance of companies
across Europe, 82 per cent of leaders said their companies were at least as productive as
they were before the pandemic.
Being free to work when and where they please has a significant positive impact on employee
satisfaction. In a 2020 SurveyMonkey study, employees who worked remotely reported feeling
happier than their colleagues who remained working in the office. There are lots of reasons
for this, from the psychological benefits of taking full control of their schedules to
simply having a dog by their side as they work. Being able to dress casually, cook more and
spend time with loved ones all contribute to this boost in mood.