The Four Hybrid Models for the Future Workplace
A guide on adapting to the new hybrid workplace
Based on conversations with thousands of workplace leaders, 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.
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 that balances employee needs with organizational objectives.
Traditionalists are office-focused. Although they will introduce limited flexibility for hybrid work, a Traditionalist’s workplace won’t look much different to the way it was before the pandemic.
With employees spending most (if not all) of the week at 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 software and COVID-19 wellness checks will be in place to monitor attendance and ensure a safer workplace experience for employees.
This hybrid work model is a natural fit for companies whose culture or type of work isn’t compatible with remote work—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 a mostly-WFH approach for now, and 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 employees are able to stay productive while working from home. 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. The workplace is primarily used for flexible work and collaboration. And while employees are expected to spend a few days at the office each week, they’re free to work from wherever they like for the rest of the week.
Due to hugely varied employee needs and schedules, 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 hybrid model reflects the employee demand for the physical workplace.
The Nomad model is helpful for companies that need to meet key organizational objectives (e.g. space utilization, real estate) while giving more flexibility to employees. 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 fully remote and beam into every meeting via Zoom. Physical workplaces are transformed to support a variety of employee needs, workstyles, 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 teams to stay productive.
A combination of flexible desks, assigned seating, neighborhoods, and collaborative spaces are required to support this hybrid work model. Cutting-edge technology like workplace sensors, free addressing, 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.
- Varied workplace restrictions. Employees in some regions are still dividing time between the office and WFH as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
- A change in attitude. Having experienced remote work during the pandemic, companies are more open to changing their policies and company culture to support hybrid work.
- 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