Pros and Cons to a Hybrid Office Model

There are many pros and cons to a hybrid office model, and it is important to consider all factors when deciding the future of your office space. For most companies, a hybrid office space will be beneficial. However, it is important to consider how the concerns regarding a hybrid workplace will be navigated before jumping in.

What is a hybrid office space?

A hybrid office can mean different things. At its core, a hybrid model allows remote workers to connect with workers in the office space. Some hybrid office models have all employees work a few days in the office space and a few days remote. Another design is that some employees are always remote, and some are always in the office. This article will look at both scenarios.

Pros of Hybrid Offices

  • Less Real Estate Costs

One benefit of not having everyone in the office is that it makes it possible to have a smaller office space. If you are located in a higher rent area like Washington, DC, or New York City, this could be a major benefit financially.

  • Employee Morale

A study by Robert Half shows that 49% of employees prefer a model where they split time between remote and in-person work. This is compared to 26% who prefer fully remote and 25% who wish to go back to entirely in-person.

The beauty of a hybrid office model is that it can accommodate all of these preferences. Some employees work fully remote, some coming into the office part-time, and others in full-time.

According to the same study by Half, one-third of professionals currently working at home do not wish to return to the office full time, to the extent that they would look for another job if required to do so. Allowing hybrid and remote work, therefore, not only increases employee morale but also increases employee retention.

  • Health and Safety

Having fewer people in the office means increased space for social distancing for in-person employees. With pandemic on the minds of everyone, there is more attention to health and safety and working from home. With a hybrid office model, it makes it easier for employees to work from home, and this should be encouraged when they have the sniffles. This could prevent the spread of viruses like the colds and flu. Having a healthier staff saves money that would have been spent on sick days. It also lowers healthcare costs and increases productivity.

  • More Access to Talent

One advantage to having some fully remote employees is that it opens your talent pool. In a traditional employment model, companies are limited to hiring people within commuting distance of their office space. Remote allows you to access a broader pool of prospective employees. You may still wish to limit geography by time zone or country, but it is still a broader pool of talent than would otherwise be available to you.

  • Better Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is important. Fewer hours spent commuting allows employees to spend more time with their families and pursuing hobbies. However, a hybrid model also gives workers who come in part-time a chance to connect with their team members in person. A hybrid model can offer a great balance between not spending extra time commuting and still getting to see team members in person.

Companies receive many benefits from increasing work-life balance, including:

  • Improved productivity
  • Lowered absenteeism
  • Reduced turnover
  • Increased employee morale

Cons to a Hybrid Office

  • Employee Imbalance

One concern when managing a hybrid office model is that if some professionals work remotely and some hybrid or in-person, there may be an imbalance with adequate staffing. Will pay raises and promotions be given fairly? Or will hybrid and in-office workers be at an advantage over remote workers? How will office politics play out?

  • Burnout

Will remote workers feel the need to be constantly “on”? Will they feel the need to work longer hours than their in-office counterparts? If so, this could lead to burnout and stress, the very thing you are trying to prevent.

While the risk of burnout is not bad enough to negate the benefits of a hybrid office or of working remotely for most people, it is something a company should be actively aware of and trying to prevent.

  • Two Sets of Equipment

If an employee is working some of the time at home and some of the time in the office, how much equipment will need to be duplicated? It’s easy to bring a laptop back and forth, but what about the second monitor? Or the ergonomic keyboard?

  • Company Culture

Company culture can be harder to maintain and nourish when some of your employees are fully remote. Having a plan for how you’ll do this is imperative. Forbes offers a list of advice on maintaining culture in a hybrid environment and includes suggestions such as ensuring everyone has a shared purpose.

The Bottom Line

There are many benefits to a hybrid office model. However, the disadvantages must be considered carefully before the model is implemented. The drawbacks can be negated with thoughtful and intentional work, yet it is important that they be examined.

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