Is all the terminology of new, flexible working models making your head spin?
Welcome to our comprehensive guide to the concept of Hybrid Remote, where we'll walk you through the primary differences between various forms of remote working and why the hybrid remote approach is gaining momentum in the modern workforce.
In today's fast-paced world, people-centric managers like you are increasingly focused on providing a more positive experience for your teams while boosting productivity and engagement.
As organizations adapt to the changing work landscape, the hybrid-remote model has emerged as an effective solution that bridges the gap between remote work and traditional office setups.
As you’ll read in the article, hybrid remote can’t just be about offering flexibility in work location. Instead, it's a thoughtful and strategic approach to creating a dynamic and inclusive work culture.
Throughout this article, we will provide an in-depth overview of how hybrid remote working functions and why it could be a game-changer for your team or company. We'll explore the tangible benefits, best practices for implementation, and insights into how other organizations have successfully embraced this model.
Whether you're thinking about adopting hybrid remote work for your team or looking to optimize your existing approach, this guide will give you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions. Let's dive in and discover how hybrid remote can lead to a happier, more productive, and future-focused workplace. We’ll look into the following:
- What is hybrid remote work?
- Why do employees want hybrid-remote work?
- Variations of the hybrid remote work model
- What is the difference between remote and hybrid working?
- What is the meaning of a hybrid remote job?
- What to consider when going hybrid remote
- Place and Time
- Offering a network of spaces
- Creating inclusivity
- How other companies are handling the transition to hybrid remote
- What are the benefits of hybrid remote work?
- What are the challenges of hybrid remote working?
- Tips for managing a hybrid remote team
- How to get started with hybrid remote work
What is hybrid remote work?
In a world where work-life balance, productivity, and employee satisfaction are more important than ever as the war for talent rages on, hybrid remote stands out as a compelling solution. Let's begin by understanding what hybrid remote is and what sets it apart from other work styles.
So what is hybrid remote work? Hybrid remote work is a model that blends in-office days with remote working days. Companies that practice this model maintain one or more physical offices where a subset of the team commutes to work while another subset works remotely.
Depending on the hybrid remote model you or your company choose, you’ll either have your team join on specific days, on specific days plus additional days they can choose, or on days they can choose.
Why do employees want hybrid-remote work?
Hybrid remote work offers employees a balanced and flexible approach, combining in-person and remote experiences.
It appeals to people who value face time with leadership, look for enhanced collaboration with teammates, and appreciate variety in their routines, avoiding work-from-home loneliness.
Recent FlexOS hybrid work research found that people also like hybrid remote because they feel more productive, reduce commuting-related stress and improve their work-life balance. Managers also positively highlight the ability to attract and retain top talent and access an expanded talent pool with diverse skills.
Variations of the hybrid remote work model
Hybrid remote is one of the working models in the hybrid remote spectrum, which ranges from fully remote to mostly office-bound.
In the full hybrid remote spectrum, we find a number of hybrid work schedules:
- Fully Remote: means without an office, and each team member is free to live and work anywhere they choose. Everyone, including executives, is remote, as there are no offices to visit."
- Remote-First: in remote-first working models, people primarily work at home or elsewhere, but offices are available. The company or team doesn’t have a minimum number of days to come to the office. Some companies like Spotify also call this Work from Anywhere.
- Hybrid Remote: is a balanced mix of in-office and remote work options, catering to the needs of diverse employees, often called weekly split and that comes in three schedule most common variants:
- Hybrid Choice: people choose which day to go to the office within a minimum number of days required, set by your or the company.
- Partial Choice: besides on or more fixed days, people choose which day to go to the office within a minimum number of days required.
- Fixed Days or Organized Hybrid: you or the company decide which days employees must work in the office.
- Mostly Office-bound: means that you will be mostly in the office but have allowance to work from other places every now and then. This reflects the pre-pandemic way of working.
As you can see, compared to other options within the hybrid remote spectrum, hybrid remote work is way better than being back in an office full-time while also offering a people-first approach that addresses the challenges of remote work, such as isolation and lack of community, and driving increased productivity and job satisfaction.
Additional hybrid work schedules besides the Weekly Split include:
- Alternating Week Schedule. In this model, the varying teams are one week remote, and one week in the office.
- Shift Hybrid Schedule. This means that beyond deciding on which days to work, you or your team also chooses timeslots to work.
- 50:50 Schedule. In this schedule, we leave workweeks behind and look at office vs. remote over the course of a month.
- Cyclical Schedule. In this schedule, which can include Hybrid + Events, there’s a set cadence in which you work remotely and then in person.
In this inclusive work model, team members can toggle between locations based on the nature of their tasks, enabling them to work in environments that optimize their productivity.
As organizations embrace hybrid remote, they embrace the future of work—one that is agile, adaptable, and empowers employees to reach their full potential.
The hybrid work environment offers a balanced mix of in-office and remote work options, catering to the needs of diverse employees.
This approach significantly benefits various vulnerable groups, including women, people with disabilities, parents of young children, millennials, and Generation Z employees.
What is the difference between remote and hybrid working?
Remote work has gained popularity recently, letting people work away from the traditional office environment. This work arrangement offers many benefits, such as greater flexibility and no commuting time.
On the other hand, hybrid work combines both remote and office work, with employees having the option to work from home or attend the physical office, depending on the day or task.
The main difference between these two work arrangements lies in the level of obligation to attend the physical office.
Companies and employees must choose the best work arrangement that fits them while ensuring a smooth transition and avoiding miscommunication for everyone involved.
What is the meaning of a hybrid remote job?
Did you get offered a hybrid remote job, or are you (considering) interviewing for one? Then be ready to commute again!
A hybrid remote job means that you will work partially in the office and partially remotely.
This setup offers the flexibility of working from home for some days and being physically present at the office for others. It can balance the convenience of remote work and the collaborative benefits of in-person interaction.
What to consider when going hybrid remote
Place and Time
Lynda Gratton, a management professor at London Business School, shared in Harvard Business Review about “How to Do Hybrid Right.” Lynda poses that companies focus too much on the place alone. And flexible work models aren’t just about ‘where’ you work.
Place is the axis getting the most attention. Millions of workers around the world this year have made a sudden shift. A shift from being place-constrained (working in the office) to being place-unconstrained. Less noticed is the shift many have also made along the time axis. Meaning from being time-constrained (working synchronously with others) to being time-unconstrained.
To help managers conceptualize both dimensions of the hybrid problem, Gratton created a 2×2 matrix. If you’re like most companies, you don’t or didn’t offer flexibility in when and where people work. This means you’d fall in the bottom-left quadrant. If you’re considering more flexibility, you must consider where you want to move.
Do you only want to provide flexibility in place? Then you’re in the “anywhere, 9 to 5” bucket. Are you looking to only give flexibility in when to work? Then you’re in the “in the office, anytime” quadrant. And if you’re going “fully flexible,” then you’re in the top-right quadrant: “anywhere, anytime.”
A new dimension is the rise of asynchronous work, which allows people to choose WHEN to work beyond WHERE they work.
Creating An Office That Supports Hybrid Work
Hybrid work also changes the requirements for an office. After all, if work can happen at home, why would people still come to the office? According to our research, socializing, collaborating, and focused work is key.
The answer is to design a hybrid office with spaces accommodating social, meeting, and focused work activities. The best companies also include spaces for balance & well-being, totaling four types of spaces for a successful hybrid office design.
It’s also important to activate the space as more than just an empty box. Companies that successfully return to office efforts often actively build community in the workplace.
Offering a network of spaces
You can also offer a network of spaces. Fujitsu wanted to support their team in Japan to get into a flow state to be at peak productivity. To accomplish this, they created an ecosystem of spaces that formed the “borderless office.” It includes hubs that maximize cooperation, satellites that facilitate coordination, and shared offices that enable focus.
Platforms like Deskimo, LiquidSpace, Radious Pro, and others allow companies to build a network of working locations without any upfront investment by tapping into existing flexible offices and coworking spaces – giving employees access to a nearby workspace.
Using technology, process, and policies to make hybrid organizations more equitable
One of the main downsides of hybrid (and remote) organizations is that they become inequitable. The experience and the opportunities for (part-time) remote workers can be less than those in the office. Zillow’s CEO, Rich Barton, warned of this earlier in the year.
“We must ensure a level playing field for all team members, regardless of their physical location,” Barton said. “There cannot be a two-class system. Meaning that those in the room are first-class. And those on the phone being second-class.”
Gitlab, the fully remote company that just went public for a 15 billion dollar valuation, used even strong words. Their CEO called a hybrid model “the worst of both worlds.”
Research shows that people who spend less time in the office get fewer promotions. And that they are perceived to be less productive. They also received less information – the very information they need to work well and grow in their career.
Remote coworkers can feel less engaged. This has them potentially detaching from the company, risking resignations from the organization. This is especially true for people in roles that require collaboration.
These problems can be solved in two ways: by using technology and through process & policy.
Technology can ensure a more equitable workplace. In a recent interview, experts at Steelcase and Gensler gave tips around integrating physical spaces and technology.
Many hybrid virtual meetings are held in conference rooms with a long table and one big screen. This means that all remote participants are shown together on the screen. And that they don’t have the same amount of ‘real estate’ as the in-person participants. Giving everyone their own screen, placed on the table or mobile carts, can be a great solution.
Audio is very important too. Often, it’s hard for people to join remotely, or vice versa. Having the right microphones and speakers in the room reduces this issue.
Collaboration software can further solve the ‘divide.’ Think, for example, about whiteboard solutions like Miro. Or working from shared documents through Google Workspace or Microsoft 365. Common tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom allow more and more collaboration online. These improvements make meetings much more equitable.
Casual conversations deliver a lot of value to in-office workers. It’s not always the meetings but the chatting before and after. The best hybrid and remote companies focus on finding ways to replace this. Using open “social” channels on collaboration tools like Slack or Workplace by Facebook recreates this online.
Process & Policy
Beyond technology and platforms, process and hybrid working policies can help achieve a successful hybrid workplace. This is not about old-school “HR policies” but rather rules of engagement that create clarity for everyone.
One essential way to ensure equity for non-office workers is by making information available online. Rather than having a spoken meeting, meetings are run by creating a live working document that can be accessed by those who weren’t there. Any conversation is recapped and documented for that same purpose.
For larger changes in a company, practice a “handbook-first” way of working. This idea, coined by Gitlab, means that all changes are documented in near real-time. This means that onboarding someone is as easy as sharing the handbook. It also allows employees to have one source for all information, whether they’ve just joined or have been there for years.
For office workers, it’s easy to forget that their work from home-counterparts are human too. Training and fostering empathy, therefore, becomes important. Ensure meetings start with a genuine “how are you.” Or schedule time for more friendly conversations after the official part of the meeting. This keeps human connections alive – key for making workplaces equitable.
Leaders can help build a more equitable company by modeling hybrid behaviors. They can work outside of the office for a few days a week. This signals that people don’t need to be in the office to be productive or to get ahead.
How other companies are handling the transition to hybrid remote
As Austin Kleon’s book “Steal Like An Artist” poses, nothing is original, and the best work is built on others’.
Reinventing the hybrid remote wheel is unnecessary. While hybrid remote and other flexible models are relatively new, you don’t have to start from scratch.
Whether it’s Dropbox’s Virtual First Toolkit, Atlassian’s Team Playbook, or Herman Miller’s Future of Work Insights collection, there’s plenty to be inspired by and learn from. You can also browse Scoop’s FlexIndex to see the hybrid remote policies for thousands of companies.
What are the benefits of hybrid remote work?
Hybrid remote work has numerous benefits for both people and their companies. To browse all benefits of flexible working models, check out our guide to 100+ hybrid and remote work statistics. Focusing specifically on hybrid, these benefits stand out:
One benefit to highlight is that flexible work helps boost productivity. Recent FlexOS research about hybrid and work-from-home productivity shows that 98% of managers report increased or maintained employee productivity. Additionally, most managers themselves also reported increased productivity.
Psychologist Mihàly Csìkszentmihàlyi has a name for the moment you’re most productive: “flow.” Flow is when you fully use your core capabilities to meet a goal or challenge. He found that individuals who often experienced flow were more productive. And they derived greater satisfaction from their work than those who didn’t.
Understanding the time and place you are most productive and doing your work then is an impactful way to increase your meaningful productivity.
Peak productivity may be different depending on the task. For example, you may do your emails best in the morning before work at home, while you are most creative or strategic between 10 and 12 in the office. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously doesn’t schedule any meetings that demand his deep focus after 12 PM.
Better work-life balance
For employees, more flexibility means better balancing work and life. For employers, it means that they don’t need big offices anymore. Hybrid remote creates a dynamic ecosystem where individuals can thrive by providing employees greater flexibility and the option to work from various locations, such as home, coworking spaces, or the office.
Hybrid-remote employees enjoy the freedom to balance personal commitments, family responsibilities, and hobbies, making their daily lives more manageable and fulfilling. With the ability to choose when and where they work, they can seamlessly integrate work into their lifestyle.
Less sick days
Especially relevant in a post-pandemic world, hybrid-remote work enables employees to balance on-site and remote work, giving them control over their exposure boundaries and health considerations.
In a fascinating interview, Rory Sutherland noted that hybrid and remote work may mean the end of ‘one-day sick leave,’ working from home still works perfectly fine when you’re not feeling too well, while a trip to the office may have been a bridge too far.
Larger talent pool
Hybrid remote opens doors to a diverse talent pool, fostering a globally connected workforce that encourages cross-cultural collaboration and learning experiences, enriching personal and professional growth.
Especially “Organized Hybrid” facilitates collaborative scheduling between companies and employees, allowing for seamless coordination of in-office and remote days, simplifying meeting arrangements, and promoting efficient teamwork.
Smarter resource management
With the flexibility to adjust office attendance based on project demands, managers can optimize resource allocation and improve team dynamics, leading to increased productivity and effective utilization of company resources.
Improved job satisfaction
Companies offering entirely flexible schedules empower employees to create work routines that accommodate individual needs, enhancing overall job satisfaction and accommodating unique situations, such as disability-related work preferences or tight deadlines.
Indeed, in our research, 6 out of 10 managers mentioned that improved job satisfaction is the key benefit of hybrid and remote working models.
Reduced turnover rates
The increased flexibility and work-life balance provided by hybrid-remote work lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction, contributing to reduced turnover rates and becoming an attractive aspect for recruitment and retention efforts.
Reducing office spaces and commuting due to hybrid-remote work fosters a more sustainable future with lower carbon footprints and environmental impacts. It aligns with the global focus on eco-conscious practices, making businesses more socially responsible.
While a successful transition to hybrid remote requires companies to invest in the right infrastructure, such as conference rooms, versatile workspaces, and robust online tools, embracing this approach can yield substantial savings in real estate and office expenses while fostering a more agile and adaptable work environment. That (expensive) reserved desk space for each employee can be a thing of the past.
What are the challenges of hybrid remote working?
FlexOS research shows that most managers don't experience hybrid and remote work challenges. On the other hand, company leadership, HR teams, and organization designers often discuss the challenges of hybrid work models.
From information accessibility and career opportunities to cultural integration and physiological stress, navigating hybrid challenges is crucial to ensuring the success and well-being of hybrid-remote teams:
Access to Information
Hybrid-remote employees may face challenges accessing crucial information as they are not physically present. This could result in incomplete data, leading to confusion, frustration, and potential underperformance. To address this issue, companies should improve documentation practices and ensure seamless communication channels to keep all team members well-informed.
Career and Development Opportunities
Being out of sight in a hybrid-remote setup may lead to remote employees being overlooked for promotions, career advancements, and lateral organizational moves. Not being mindful of this one of 5 common mistakes remote managers make. To overcome this challenge, employers must create equal growth opportunities for in-person and remote team members, ensuring remote employees are not disadvantaged in their career progression.
Feeling Like a Satellite Office
Hybrid-remote employees might experience feelings of isolation or being treated as secondary to their in-office counterparts. To mitigate this, organizations need to prioritize remote employee onboarding, inclusion, and fostering a culture that values the contributions of all team members, regardless of their work location.
Remote employees in a primarily co-located company may experience guilt related to the perceived privilege of working remotely. This emotional burden can impact their mental well-being and team dynamics. Employers should address this challenge by encouraging open communication and creating a supportive environment that acknowledges the unique circumstances of remote work.
Burden of Advocacy
Remote employees brought on board under different arrangements may find themselves constantly justifying their remote work privileges to colleagues who are not offered the same flexibility. Employers must ensure consistent remote work policies and encourage transparency to avoid resentment and misunderstanding among team members.
Unclear Remote Support
Many large companies might offer remote work on an ad hoc basis without openly advertising remote-friendly roles. This lack of clarity can make it challenging for remote job seekers to identify remote-friendly managers and teams within the organization. Companies should be transparent about their remote work policies and actively promote remote-friendly roles to attract the right talent.
Risk of Being an Example
Remote employees in predominantly colocated companies might encounter uncomfortable questions or be seen as an exception rather than the norm. Organizations should foster a culture that normalizes remote work and supports employees' choices without creating unnecessary scrutiny or pressure.
Demands for Overperformance
Some hybrid-remote employees may face subtle pressure to deliver beyond expectations compared to their in-office counterparts. This stems from a misguided belief that remote employees have it easier. Employers should emphasize performance based on outcomes rather than work location and ensure equitable expectations for all team members.
Companies relying heavily on physical perks and in-office experiences to define their culture may struggle to extend those experiences to remote employees. Remote workers might feel disconnected from the company's culture, affecting engagement and team cohesion. Employers must intentionally create a more inclusive and remote-friendly culture, incorporating virtual experiences that foster collaboration and camaraderie.
Physiological Stress in Office Environments
In hybrid-remote setups, some team members may be required to work in open-plan office environments, which studies have linked to increased physiological stress. Employers should prioritize employee well-being by providing flexible workspace options, supporting remote work arrangements, and promoting a healthy work environment for all employees, regardless of their work location.
Tips for managing a hybrid remote team
Overcoming these challenges requires 12 strategies for managing remote teams, including clear communication, establishing boundaries, supporting employee well-being, implementing feedback loops, fostering trust and collaboration within teams, and embracing a positive mindset toward change:
Build Psychological Safety 🤗
- Prioritize psychological safety within your team to foster creativity, productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention.
- Encourage open communication and active listening to create a safe environment for sharing ideas and feedback.
- Recognize and reward individuals who speak up and contribute to building confidence and trust.
Set Your Team Rules 📜
- Establish clear team agreements and guidelines for remote and hybrid work to ensure clarity and productivity.
- Address key working hours, communication platforms, office attendance, and productivity measurement questions.
- Use tools like Notion, Google Drive, or Blissbook to document and share the team rules.
Power Up with Technology ⚡
- Assess your team's technology needs and provide essential tools to support their work.
- Familiarize team members with the software and offer training resources for better adoption.
- Measure and optimize the use of technology to improve the employee experience.
Meet Less, Meet Better 🤝
- Have clear meeting agendas and choose appropriate meeting formats (video, audio, messaging, etc.).
- Encourage engagement from all participants and respect different time zones for hybrid teams.
- Follow up after meetings with meeting minutes and action items to keep everyone informed and accountable.
Over-invest in One-on-Ones 👥
- Schedule and prioritize regular one-on-one meetings with team members for building trust and addressing concerns.
- Communicate expectations in advance and actively listen during the meetings.
- Use one-on-ones for goal setting, personal development, and ongoing support.
- Tools like one-on-one questions generator, AI this or that questions, or AI Icebreakers
Create Intentional Office Days 🥳
- Define clear objectives for in-office days, focusing on collaboration, team meetings, and fostering community.
- Use hybrid work scheduling tools or group polls to effectively coordinate and plan office days.
- Prioritize interaction and team engagement during in-office days with co-working activities and team-building exercises.
Foster Team Collaboration 🧩
- Emphasize psychological safety within your team to encourage creativity, diverse perspectives, and shared ownership of goals.
- Utilize collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Notion to facilitate easy information flow between in-office and remote team members.
- Train the team on the importance of transparent collaboration, setting clear outcomes, and building trust in hybrid and remote work settings.
Set Clear Performance Expectations 📈
- Prioritize outcomes over hours worked to manage the performance of hybrid and remote team members effectively.
- Provide frequent feedback and informal performance reviews to keep team members motivated and aligned with goals.
- Set balanced targets that challenge employees while remaining attainable to foster a sense of autonomy and trust in remote work.
Invest in Learning & Development 🎓
- Prioritize personal and professional growth for all team members, regardless of location, to support engagement and retention.
- Offer a blend of on-the-job learning, collaboration-based training, and formal education to cater to diverse learning preferences.
- Utilize technology and e-learning platforms to provide remote-friendly training programs and workshops for continuous development.
Create an Inclusive Onboarding Experience 👋
- Design a comprehensive onboarding program covering organizational, technical, and social aspects to integrate new team members successfully.
- Engage new hires in pre-boarding activities to introduce them to the company culture and values before their start date.
- Create and assign a top-notch 30 60 90 day plan for your new team members.
- Assign onboarding buddies or mentors to provide support, answer questions, and facilitate integration.
Promote Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 💕
- Expand hiring efforts to attract diverse talent from various locations, enhancing perspectives and experiences.
- Implement inclusive practices to promote equitable treatment across in-office and remote team members.
- Provide diversity training and cultural sensitivity programs to enhance understanding and empathy among team members.
Champion Employee Well-Being 🥗
- Set clear boundaries and expectations to prevent burnout and maintain work-life balance for remote and hybrid teams.
- Offer flexible work arrangements that accommodate individual needs and promote employee well-being and job satisfaction.
- Provide resources and support for mental health and wellness, recognizing the unique challenges of remote work.
Getting started with hybrid remote work
With so many challenges and required changes, you may wonder where to go hybrid. It’s good to remember that hybrid work may be challenging to implement. But that it’s likely to become a must in the (near) future. Companies that offer hybrid work are more attractive to employees.
At its core, hybrid remote work represents more than just a policy that benefits employees; it embodies a cultural shift in organizations' operations. To truly embrace the potential of hybrid remote, companies must move away from controlling where and how employees work and adopt a more democratic work environment.
This means empowering individuals and team leaders to create fluid schedules and flexible arrangements that align with their passion and purpose. A one-size-fits-all approach, where employees must adhere to strict in-office schedules, falls short of realizing the full potential of hybrid remote work.
Instead, thriving hybrid remote organizations set broad guidelines for effective engagement, collaboration, productivity, and work satisfaction while allowing individuals to choose their work locations and schedules. By fostering a culture of trust and empowerment, companies can unlock the true benefits of hybrid remote work models.
To implement the potential win-win of hybrid remote work, take these three steps first.
Understand Your Key Stakeholder’s Appetite
It doesn’t mean that everyone will be equally excited. Before starting a big transformation project, perform a ‘temperature check.’ with all your key stakeholders. What is their appetite for hybrid remote work? Are they looking to make changes in flexibility around space only? Or time as well? What would hybrid work mean to them? And what would and wouldn’t motivate them?
Survey Your Team
Survey your team to decide how and to what degree you will adopt hybrid remote work. Getting first-line insights into what they want is critical.
The most important information to gather is:
- Do you need (dedicated) working space in our HQ, and how often?
- How many days would you ideally work from home or work near home?
- How far would you ideally travel (maximum) to get to work?
- Do you have requirements that tie you to a physical office, like document storage?
- What are any concerns about hybrid work you may have?
Get Ready To Measure, Learn, And Optimize
You’re about to embark on a big and new journey. How do we ensure you’re successful? (lean) startups have always embraced the build–measure – learn – (and optimize!) Mindset.
Start by setting goals and picture what success looks like. Then align metrics against that. Ensure you measure those items and review them. Constantly. This will allow you to see what is working and adjust where it isn’t.
Stay in the know
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