Learn about hybrid work models and how to transition effectively

An employee works productively in a light-filled room at home using a hybrid work model.

Over the past few years, hybrid work has exploded — as much out of necessity as anything else. However, as many companies transition back to the office, a modified version of hybrid work has emerged. Today, hybrid work is more flexible and inclusive, offering employees the convenience of working from home and the connectedness of working in an office.

If it hasn’t already, it might be time for your organization to consider hybrid work. In this article, you’ll learn:

What is hybrid work?

Hybrid work is a model where employees split their time between the office and working remotely. Hybrid work gives employees greater flexibility by offering them the opportunity to work remotely without losing the benefits that come from being in an office.

With a hybrid model, employees can work from headquarters, at home, or another workspace entirely. Employees are allowed to work in a way that fits their life and work style, whether that’s in the office full time, full-time remote, or a mix of the two. Some businesses require a certain amount of in-person days. Others allow employees to choose when they come into the office.

Hybrid work policies have existed for years, but they became commonplace after 2020 — and most employees want to keep it that way. In fact, more than 70% of employees want flexible options like hybrid work going forward. Workers aren’t asking exclusively for remote work either — 83% of employees said a hybrid model would be better than exclusively in-person or remote arrangements. Nearly 60% say they’ve worked in some type of hybrid model since COVID-19, so there’s plenty of evidence that businesses can still achieve their goals with such a model too.

Why is hybrid work valuable?

Some employers resist the idea of hybrid work, but it has many benefits for both businesses and their employees.

1. Work-life balance

A hybrid model makes it possible to structure work around life for better balance. Your employees are humans, not machines. They need time away from the office to recover from the workday and enjoy their personal lives. With hybrid work, employees don’t need to commute as often, which gives them more of their time back.

2. Larger talent pools

It’s no secret that businesses are experiencing a talent shortage right now. If you struggle to hire talent locally, hybrid work arrangements give you the freedom to look beyond nearby candidates. Instead of focusing too much on a candidate’s location, you can find the best person for the job, no matter where they are.

3. Save money

With fewer employees coming into the office, businesses can easily slash common office bills like utilities and office supplies. You might even be able to justify moving to a smaller, less expensive office. Many companies can downsize when they switch to a hybrid working model, so crunch the numbers to see how this arrangement could save you money.

4. Health and safety

It’s far easier to keep your employees safe and healthy with a hybrid model. Instead of encouraging sick employees to come into the office, you can ask employees who feel ill to work from home instead. In an age where a simple cough could be much more than that, working fewer days in the office limits your team’s exposure to illness and keeps everyone safe.

5. Productive flexibility

Instead of insisting employees work from 8am to 5pm every day, hybrid allows them to work when they’re the most productive. A flexible schedule lets your team work when they’re at their peak, which means you’ll get better quality work. With fewer distractions, workers are also likely to feel less stressed and more comfortable in their daily work. That all leads to increased productivity and lower stress, which is a manager’s dream.

70% of employees want flexible options like hybrid work going forward.

What’s the difference between hybrid work and work from home?

Work from home is a separate concept from hybrid work. With hybrid work, employees have the option to either go into the office or work from home remotely. Work from home arrangements are remote, which means employees don’t have the option to go into an office — not even if they wanted to do so.

With hybrid work, there are situations where some employees are mostly in the office, some mostly work from home, or a mix. This could be a “hybrid work from home” model, but it depends on your business and your policies.

83% of employees said a hybrid model would be better than exclusively in-person or remote arrangements.

Types of hybrid work models

Every business is different, so hybrid working models will vary based on the nature of your work, industry, customers, and more. The type of hybrid work a company uses can depend on many different factors, but there are some types of hybrid work that are more common than others.

These are the five most common hybrid work models you might encounter.

1. Office-first hybrid

This is the option that’s closest to a traditional in-office model. With an office-first hybrid, employees are expected to be in the office, but they can occasionally work from home. Companies usually offer remote options on either a weekly or monthly basis.

2. Remote-first hybrid

Remote-first hybrid is the opposite of office-first hybrid. With this option, employees primarily work remotely, but they might come into the office as needed (usually a few times a month).

3. Fixed hybrid

Under a fixed hybrid model, the company determines which days and times employees must come into the office. This is a more structured approach that ensures the team has coverage, so it’s common in offices that serve clients or the public in person.

4. Flexible hybrid

Flexible hybrid options give employees the freedom to work wherever they want on any given day. This is also called “at-will” work. The only challenge is that it can be difficult for managers to know who is and isn’t at the office, but it’s great for employee flexibility.

5. Remote with no dedicated office

This is a remote-first model without a dedicated workplace. However, the business might rent an office space if it needs employees to collaborate in person as needed.

Nearly 60% say they've worked in some type of hybrid model since COVID-19.

How to transition to a hybrid work model

Whether employers are ready or not, hybrid work is the future of collaboration. With hybrid working arrangements, employees are happier and more productive. It’s just a matter of setting up a hybrid work environment that works for your team. Follow these eight tips to transition your business to a hybrid work model.

1. Figure out what your employees want

A good hybrid work model should serve the needs of your employees — otherwise, you’ll experience a lot of resistance to the new approach.

The best way to implement a hybrid model is to ask employees what they want out of their work environment. This will give you the best idea of how often your team wants to be in the office and how you should structure hybrid work.

2. Set clear guidelines

Plenty of employees prefer pure remote over hybrid, so if you’re trying to bring a fully remote team into a hybrid model, it’s going to be a little tough. You can make the transition easier by setting clear boundaries.

No matter how you structure hybrid work, you need to set clear guidelines from the start. If you need employees to be in the office two days a week, make that abundantly clear. Without guidelines, hybrid work can quickly lose its structure and create animosity between employees who are following the rules and those who aren’t. This means you also need to rein in any employees who try to skirt the rules.

3. Invest in the tech

Do you have the right hardware and software to support hybrid work? You’ll need certain tools to make a smoother switch to hybrid, including:

You should be confident that your employees have everything they need to collaborate, whether they’re in the office or at home. The solutions you choose also need to work both in person and remotely, so make sure your technology:

Since employees will be managing sensitive company data at home, ensure your systems are secure. That might mean providing employee VPNs or asking employees to work from secure Wi-Fi instead of public coffee shops.

Hybrid work gives employees greater flexibility by offering them the opportunity to work remotely without losing the benefits that come from being in an office.

4. Create an inclusive company culture

One of the downsides to hybrid work is that employees can feel isolated when they’re remote. On the flip side, some employees might only want to work remotely and never come into the office. You can’t please everyone, but a strong company culture will help you find a compromise.

A strong culture encourages collaboration and connection regardless of where your team is located. The culture should be so supportive and engaging that it makes employees want to come into the office to work closely with their coworkers.

This means you need an inclusive and supportive company culture. Treat everyone fairly and equally. Ensure your employees have support, no matter where they’re working.

5. Have strong communication

Communication is the glue that holds any good hybrid work model together. This is tricky, though, because you want employees to have the same experience whether they’re working from home or the office. Hybrid teams need to be in constant contact with each other, providing updates as seamlessly as they would if everyone were together in the office.

Since your team might not all be online at the same time, encourage them to use asynchronous communication like email to stay in touch. If you need timely answers or quick collaboration, ask your hybrid team to sync up on a video call.

You’re probably using several communication tools already, so create guidelines for them. Tell your team when it’s appropriate to use channels like chat, email, meetings, or in-person discussions.

6. Build a working environment that works with hybrid

The physical environment is an important component of hybrid work. When you’re designing the physical space, it has to put employees first. For example, don’t claim to create a “hybrid” environment that makes it impossible to do work unless employees go to the office. This means all employees need a laptop, internet connection, and access to important files both remotely and in the office. They shouldn’t need to come into the office to perform a critical aspect of their jobs because that isn’t truly hybrid work.

Also, make sure the in-person experience is worth the trip. Your employees spend time and money commuting to the office, so create a welcoming, productive, and enjoyable environment that makes them want to stay.

7. Plan social events

Some employees are probably going to be reluctant to return to the office. Instead of penalizing folks for staying at home, tap into the fear of missing out (FOMO) to bring employees into the fold.

Plan fun social events as incentives. That might be learning opportunities, happy hours, free food, or contests to get employees excited about connecting in person. Even if you err on the side of remote-first hybrid, in-person events are a great way to foster connections and build a rich culture.

8. Gather feedback from your employees

Managers might love the new hybrid plan, but what do employees think? The only way you can know if your hybrid work plan is successful is to gather feedback from people.

If hybrid work is new for your organization, recognize that you’re going to have growing pains at first. Don’t be afraid to adjust your hybrid work schedule, rules, or equipment to accommodate employee needs.

Getting started with hybrid work

Hybrid working arrangements are a solid way to balance the employee’s desire for flexibility while maintaining a strong corporate culture. However, you need good hybrid workforce management to get tangible results. Involve your employees in the planning process to design a hybrid work environment that excites and motivates your team.

Need a hand managing your projects with a hybrid team? Adobe Workfront integrates people, data, processes, and technology across an organization, so you can manage the entire lifecycle of projects from start to finish.

Take a free product tour to see how Workfront makes hybrid work a breeze.