As the world of work has changed so quickly, there’s a lot of buzz around all the new ways of working that have emerged over the last couple of years. Remote work is something that we all knew about already, but hybrid work and flexible work are now talked about much more than they were previously.
The problem is that the two terms are often conflated, to the point that many people end up thinking that they’re one and the same. But nothing could be further from the truth: they are two distinctly different concepts, and understanding what sets them apart could be critical in your business establishing the right work model for the longer term.
In this blog, we’ll clear up the key differences between hybrid work and flexible work, and explore the key considerations in deciding which is best for you.
What is hybrid work?
Hybrid work is where employees work across a combination of the office and their home, so that they’re still able (where appropriate) to enjoy the benefits of remote working that many enjoyed during the pandemic.
Generally speaking, the hybrid work model will be relatively fixed. For example, a payroll team may be designated to work from the office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the HR team may be designated Tuesdays and Thursdays. In such an example, these two departments can share one set of workstations and meeting rooms, meaning that (assuming the departments are the same size) the workspace demand can be halved.
But hybrid work is not without its compromises. Firstly, the lack of flexibility in the arrangements may not suit the work/life balance of some employees who have pressing demands at home, or those who don’t have a suitable home working environment and would prefer to work from the office full-time. Additionally, when different teams or team members aren’t necessarily in the office at the same time, collaboration can be more difficult to arrange and execute.
What is flexible work?
Flexible work, on the other hand, is a much less regimented and much more fluid process. It is similar to hybrid work in the sense that employees combine working from the office and working from home, but the most important difference can be summed up in a single word: control.
Whereas hybrid working arrangements are defined and enforced by the employer, in a flexible work model, that power is given to individual employees. Within reasonable operational parameters of the business, each employee can decide where and when they want to work. What’s more, they don’t have to commit to the same week-by-week schedule: they can decide to work from the office whenever they want to, or whenever they feel they need to in order to collaborate with co-workers in person.
Although this sounds like it might be overly complex, technology can help make flexible work a seamless and efficient process. It can help employees book the workspaces they need in the office in advance for precisely the times they’re needed, and for employees to view each other’s schedules and locations in order to easily organize physical, virtual or combined meetings.
Which is better for you?
To understand which model makes more sense for your organization, there are a few key factors to consider, including:
- Context: every business and every workforce is different, and so decisions should be made with this vital information in mind. Employers should already be taking steps to collect this information, and employees should be proactive about supplying it if they aren’t.
- Collaboration: the need to connect with co-workers in your own team, co-workers in other teams, and whether virtual meetings are sufficient should all influence how flexible your working model should be.
- Choice: employees given more autonomy tend to feel more valued by their employers, and therefore happier and more productive in their work, so giving each employee as much freedom as possible can deliver huge benefits.
To learn about how flexible work can be put into practice in more detail, download our free eBook today.