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3 types of hybrid work models (and the pros and cons of each)

Ah, hybrid work. The most talked-about work model of the past year. For many companies, the jury is still out on whether to adopt a hybrid work environment or keep the traditional five-day on-site workweek. A recent Envoy + Wakefield return to the workplace survey suggests that employers can’t afford to stick with the status quo.

The survey revealed that 47% of employees want more flexibility in where and how they work. If employers don’t adapt, they risk losing about half of their workforce to companies that do. The good news is, employers and employees can both win with the right hybrid work model. In this post, we’ll cover the three most common models of hybrid work. We’ll go over what they are and the pros and cons of each.

Option A – Some employees work on-site and others work remotely

In this hybrid work model, part of your workforce would work fully on-site and the other part would be fully remote. This may be the most straightforward of the hybrid options, but to demonstrate what this could look like, let’s go over an example.

A pharmaceutical company recently adopted this work model to broaden its talent pool. 30% of its employees work on-site full-time to access the equipment and facilities they need to be productive. The remaining 70% of employees work remotely full-time since they’re able to do their work from their computers. Since switching to this model, the company has been able to downsize its real estate footprint and save on overhead costs.

Pros

  • Knowing who will be on-site during the week 
  • Employees who value a consistent work environment may prefer this setup
  • Employers can hire remote talent located anywhere in the world

Cons

  • This model doesn’t offer employees the flexibility of some hybrid work models 
  • Employees who work on-site don’t have the same remote work benefits as their colleagues (e.g., on-site employees have to spend time and money commuting to work)
  • Remote employees may feel out of the loop when it comes to workplace and overall company culture

Tip: Empower your workforce with technology that will enable team productivity no matter where people are located. Be strategic about how you introduce new workplace technology to your people. Ask for feedback on how you can improve your hybrid work tech stack and iterate over time.   

Option B – All employees work on-site for part of the week and remotely part of the week

This may be the most talked-about hybrid work model. In this model, your workforce has the flexibility to work on-site part of the week and remotely the rest of the week.

Let’s use an example to show you how this might look. A retail company has offices in New York, San Francisco, and Denver. After the pandemic, during which all employees worked from a remote location, the company adopted this hybrid work model. Employees in all three offices have the flexibility to work remotely on certain days of the week. On other days, they’re expected to work on-site.

Pros

  • All employees have flexibility in where they work
  • Investments in technologies that support hybrid work have broader ROI because everyone benefits
  • Fewer people on-site at any one time means lower overhead costs

Cons

  • It may be hard for employees and leaders to know who’s on-site and when 
  • Workplace teams need to take extra measures to keep employees connected and productive

Tip: Create employee schedules to give your workforce structure while still enabling flexibility.

Option C – Some combo of the two

In this model, some of your workforce has the flexibility to work on-site on some days and remotely on others. The remaining employees work fully remote or fully on-site.

Here’s an example of how that might look. A manufacturing company has its headquarters in Los Angeles and a manufacturing plant in Paris. In LA, employees come into the workplace on assigned days. When they’re not working on-site, they’re working from a remote location, such as a cafe or their home office. In Paris, employees work on-site full-time. A portion of the company’s workforce is remote full-time and works from regions all around the world. 

Pros

  • Companies with employees who can’t work remotely are able to offer flexible working options to the parts of their workforce that can

Cons

  • It’s harder to scale workplace strategies when workplaces have unique setups
  • It can be difficult to create a sense of community, culture, and connection with employees scattered across regions and working under different models

Tip: Establish clear policies around your company’s work model. If different workplaces follow different working models, make sure to detail those differences so employees know what work environments are available to them based on their assigned workplace.

Hybrid work is still a pretty new model of work to many companies. Workplace leaders should work closely with employees to determine the best way forward. It could be a matter of testing out a model with a select few teams or locations to start, then scaling up when the kinks have been worked out.

Ready to learn more about how employees want to work in the new normal? We surveyed 1,000 employees to find out what they think about hybrid work after the pandemic. Find out what we learned in our ebook, Employees have a vision for the future of work and it’s hybrid.