Hybrid workers are driving the return to the office. Hybrid employees both demand and help to create a working arrangement that is more flexible and provides better work-life balance.
Giving hybrid teams the tools they need to do their best work is therefore one of the most important workplace strategies an organization can adopt.
That said, hybrid work isn’t a magic bullet. It only works when organizations create a hybrid work environment that is employee-centric and accommodates the needs of every team member.
In this article, we explore how hybrid workers can advocate for themselves to create a better hybrid workplace experience and more empowerment in the workplace.
Free Guide: 6 tactics to improve the employee experience for a hybrid workforce
Thanks to the pandemic, the hybrid office is quickly becoming the norm in today’s office landscape.
That said, even before COVID, the hybrid workplace model was becoming increasingly popular. This is thanks to both demands from workers and the rapidly improving hybrid workplace technology that makes this type of working attractive.
The future of work is now undoubtedly hybrid, which means hybrid employees are here to stay.
This also means that post-pandemic, the majority of companies will use a hybrid workforce. The hybrid workforce is is sometimes in-office and sometimes remote. Hybrid employees will toggle between at least two locations (one often being their home office). The use hybrid working tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack to stay connected when they’re not face-to-face.
Ultimately, there are as many work arrangements for hybrid workers as there are hybrid companies. This presents a variety of work options for anyone on the job market.
Some hybrid companies will maintain permanent desks for every employee. Others might use any number of flexible seating models, often with an eye towards reducing their real estate portfolio.
For example, at OfficeSpace, we have physical office spaces in our three locations (Canada, Costa Rica, and Altanta, GA), with both permanent and desk booking options available depending on the location.
Each location has created their own solution based on what works best for their region and circumstances.
We also employ remote workers, whom we’re careful to ensure have the tools they need to do their jobs well.
Following this flexible and employee-driven model helps us improve both the hybrid workplace and the employee experience for our hybrid and remote employees on a granular basis. Everyone gets the support they need, from day one of the onboarding process.
Meanwhile, some companies may introduce different work environment types. This can include department-related areas like office neighborhoods or activity-based working environments that center around the type of work being done at any given time.
As a result, the employee’s type of task or their department’s goals may set the tone for how often to come into the office.
Regardless, more often than not, the companies that get hybrid right are the ones that develop strategies that are in line with how their employees can and want to use the office.
The terms ‘hybrid worker’ and ‘remote worker’ are often mistakenly conflated.
Remote workers are just that—people who work remotely full-time.
Meanwhile, hybrid employees are those who work any combination of remote work and office work.
It’s an important distinction, given the impact each working style has on both company culture and work experience.
Specifically, up to 86% of full time remote workers report burnout.
At the same time, a growing number of surveys, including the latest from OfficeSpace, all point to one reality: most employees want to enjoy the benefits of working from home, while still coming into the office for collaboration and connection.
In other words, most workers want to be hybrid workers.
And since employees looking to improve their workday is one of the main causes of the Great Resignation, looking for more ways to adopt a hybrid schedule may help improve employee attraction and retention.
Given the varying nature of hybrid work, there is no universal hybrid work schedule.
Hybrid will mean different things to different companies and different employees.
Common hybrid workweeks are to have employees work 3 days in the office, and 2 days remotely.
That said, when hybrid employees struggle, it’s often because of the lack of routine and stress that comes with too much back and forth. So in this scenario, it would be better for employees to work three days in the office in a row.
Hybrid workers that figure out what their best routine is will be more successful.Angie Earlywine
Hybrid workers that figure out what their best routine is will be more successful.
The benefits of the hybrid work schedule very much depends on how well they meet employee needs and create a collaborative office environment.
In essence, hybrid work model pros and cons can vary greatly between different locations. It depends on how much autonomy workers are given over their schedules. Companies that embrace true flexibility in hybrid work are those that make the happiest and most productive employees.
Specifically, we know from Cushman and Wakefield’s industry-leading Experience per Square Foot™ workplace survey that experience scores jump dramatically from 45% to 74% when employees have complete control over their schedules, as well as how often they come into the office.
“Business leaders need to acknowledge how critical this data is,” says workplace strategist Angie Earlywine, Senior Director in the Total Workplace division of Global Occupier Services at Cushman & Wakefield.
Not everyone is most productive in a traditional 9 AM to 5 PM timeframeKerry Wekelo, COO of Actualize Consulting, Here’s What You Need to Know (and Ask) if Your Company’s Considering a Hybrid Work Setup
Not everyone is most productive in a traditional 9 AM to 5 PM timeframe
And employees should recognize the importance of flexibility, too. If you are looking for a job and know you want a flexible schedule, then narrow your job search to the growing number of companies that will give you one.
Or, if you’re in a position that you wish offered more flexibility, speak to management and human resources about your concerns. Smart companies want to help employees do their best work, and should welcome this type of feedback.
There are many perks to hybrid working—less time commuting, less time dealing with office politics, the ability to put in a load of laundry or take your dog for a walk while you wait for those files to download—all while still getting in some of that fabled water cooler time we all missed during the pandemic.
But there can still be drawbacks to hybrid work. This means hybrid employees should be proactive in creating a better solution for themselves.
If you’re a hybrid employee, you’re likely used to hearing the same advice. Make a separate workspace in your home, stick to a regular schedule, check in regularly with your coworkers and bosses.
This advice is certainly helpful. But it’s not enough to create the ideal work life if your company isn’t also holding up their end of the bargain and following hybrid workplace best practices.
So don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for the right digital workplace solutions and tools to make hybrid actually work for you, in real-time.
And if you’re interviewing for a new position or being asked to switch to hybrid work, be sure to ask the following questions in the following areas (and, of course, make sure you like the answers).
Your health and safety—and that of your team members—should always come first. That’s why you may want to advocate for simple software solutions like Distancing Planner or Safeguard. These can make it much easier for your employer to keep everyone safe, socially distant, and compliant with local rules and regulations—greatly adding to both your security, and your peace of mind.
Note that badge systems can also dramatically improve security in the workplace, so you may want to advocate for one as well.
Ultimately, it’s easy to pay lip service to hybrid work. But unless companies set up a work environment with everything hybrid employees need, hybrid work can be more of a headache than a blessing. Make sure you’re only agreeing to a work environment that will let you do your best work.
Remember the experience boost that comes from giving hybrid employees more autonomy. It’s in your employer’s best interest to give you as much control over your schedule as possible. And it’s in your best interest to seek out an employer who will give this to you.
The reality is that your hybrid work experience is only as good as your company’s technology. So be sure to advocate for cloud-based desk booking software and request management options that make it incredibly easy to use the office.
Ultimately, the right software and policies can create a digital workspace that allows for just as much collaboration and productivity—if not more so—than traditional offices of the past.
Make sure your employer knows that providing the right remote technology is important. For example, many companies now offer a stipend to make home offices more functional. Your home workspace should be just as user-friendly, ergonomically correct, and connected as the office space.
Integrated workplace management software (IWMS), such as desk booking and room booking tools, are an incredibly important piece of this puzzle.
Similarly, make sure you have good communication and collaboration tools, such as email, of course, but also project collaboration tools, video conferencing software, and other cloud-based apps designed for sharing both files and ideas.
At the end of the day, if you’re a hybrid employee, the digital workspace is your new personal office. You want to ensure your company is making it as foolproof, adaptable, and easy to use as possible.
There’s no doubt that hybrid working is the future for many industries.
That said, there’s also no doubt that not everyone thrives in this environment. Or that it can take a lot of work to get hybrid right. That’s why hybrid employees need to advocate for themselves. They must ensure they have the right schedule, the right tools, and the right amount of freedom to do their jobs well.
Discover the four models companies are using to adapt to hybrid work—and how to make them work for you.
Photos: Andrea Piacquadio, Kindel Media, fauxels, Julia M Cameron,