The Four Hybrid Workplace Models for the Future of Work
A guide on adapting to the new hybrid workplace
The future of work is hybrid
Hybrid work is not office-first or remote-first it’s a blend of both worlds. Based on conversations with thousands of workplace leadership teams, we have identified four hybrid work models that global organizations are using to streamline the transition to hybrid work.
We’re sharing a framework for these models that organizations can use to create a hybrid workplace that best supports their needs, and return remote employees to a work environment that suits everyone.
Understanding the hybrid work model
Two primary drivers shape a company’s approach to hybrid work:
- Real estate. Will the company grow, maintain, or shrink its portfolio? Growth or finance considerations are factored into this decision.
- Employee experience. Will the company decide where people work during the week, or is that decision in the hands of each employee? Acquiring and retaining talent, along with any special equipment needs influence this choice.
A company’s stance on these areas of hybrid workplace management leads to one of the following four paths for creating a hybrid workplace model that balances co-workers needs with organizational objectives.
The four emerging hybrid work models
Traditionalists are onsite office work focused. Although they will introduce limited flexibility for hybrid work, a Traditionalist’s workplace won’t look much different from the way it was before the pandemic.
With employees being almost full-time in the office, Traditionalists won’t be downsizing their real estate portfolios. On the contrary, space planning tools and virtual scenarios will be used to manage existing space, test out new floor plans, and return everyone to the workplace in phases. Desk booking and conference room software and COVID-19 wellness checks will be in place to monitor attendance and ensure a safer workplace experience for office employees.
This hybrid work model is a natural fit for companies whose culture or type of work isn’t compatible with remote work but rather face-to-face office first teams—law firms that rely on in-person communication, pharmaceutical companies where employees can’t complete laboratory focused tasks while working from home, etc.
Architects are sticking with mostly remote workers for now, but they’ll keep some of their locations open for in-person work and collaboration. Employees will spend most of the week working remotely and bookable desks will be available on request at select office locations.
The upside of this hybrid work model is that the need for real estate is reduced—Architects can potentially downsize their real estate portfolio and reduce overhead costs. To effectively manage a distributed workforce and flexible seating at scale, space planning tools, fully integrated desk booking tools, and real-time office maps are required.
The Architect model is a good fit for companies whose team members are able to stay productive while remote working. For example, consulting firms and startups often find it easier to adopt this model because of the nature of their industries.
Nomads are balancing in-office attendance with remote-work flexibility. Office workspaces are primarily used for flexible work and collaboration. This hybrid workforce is expected to be commuting into the office a few days of their workweek, but they’ll also be free to remote work from wherever they like for the remainder of the week.
Due to hugely varied employee needs, schedules, and work-life balance, advanced workplace tools like neighborhoods, automated permissions, and real-time workplace maps are required to help Nomads manage flexibility at scale. Advanced workplace reports and analytics are also required, as Nomads will postpone real estate decisions until they’ve collected enough data to confirm that this work arrangement reflects the employee demand for the physical workplace.
This hybrid team model is helpful for companies that need to meet key organizational objectives (e.g. space utilization, real estate) while giving employees the work options they need to avoid Zoom burnout. Technology companies are some of the most likely candidates to adopt this model.
Pioneers are giving teams the freedom to choose where, when, and how they work. Employees can spend five days a week at the office, split their week between home and HQ, or go remote first and join meetings via Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or other video calls. Physical workplaces are transformed to support a variety of employee needs, work styles, and in-office schedules.
Pioneers offer the greatest level of autonomy to employees, which can go a long way to driving employee engagement and ease of attracting and retaining top talent. And because organizational policies, workflows, and available technology are geared to support hybrid work, it’s easier for decentralized multi-time zone teams to stay productive.
A combination of flexible desks, assigned seating, neighborhoods, and collaborative workspaces are required to support this hybrid work model. Cutting-edge technology like workplace sensors, free addressing, collaboration and communication tools, and employee badge integration are also commonly used to facilitate an enhanced hybrid workplace experience.
This model is ideal for organizations that want to give employees the autonomy and flexibility to work independently. Advertising agencies, PR agencies, and companies that employ knowledge workers commonly adopt this approach.
What’s driving the transition to a hybrid working model?
- Varied workplace restrictions. Employees in some regions are still dividing time between the office and remote working as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
- A change in attitude. Having experienced remote work during the pandemic, companies are more open to changing their work policies and company culture to support a hybrid work environment.
- Employee experience. Companies that offer hybrid work are better at attracting and retaining talent.
- Employee demand. Most employees now expect employers to support hybrid work.
“Our CEO was adamant, if we’re going to change the workplace, let’s do it now so that when we come back we come back to something new. Rather than have people coming back to old habits, we want to try and create new habits.”
Vice President of Real Estate and Workplace Experience, Rapid7