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 isn’t new. But hybrid work and flexible work have now become the new standard for many office workers.
In fact, data from our “Attitudes to Hybrid Work” report finds 85% of employees desire a hybrid work model to help work life balance, reduce commuting expenses, tend to childcare, and create a more dynamic weekly working environment where working styles emphasize greater flexibility. And organizations want to accommodate employees to retain talent and attract new employees.
Laura Rasmussen, a senior manager of talent and organization strategy at Accenture, discusses the benefits her clients realized when hybrid and flexible work arrangements are put in place. She quotes one of her customers who retained employees: “As a single mom, I was thinking of leaving the company due to the inflexible hours and impractical ways of working. But now, I have decided to stay because of the hybrid work movement that the company has started.”
Employees want in person collaboration but on their terms. Few of us want to be in an office full time anymore. Notably, a new pattern has emerged that we’ve been tracking in our 2023 Workplace Predictions Report. We call it the mid-week mountain where employees return to the office between Tuesdays and Thursdays. Employees aren’t commuting into the office on Mondays or Fridays anymore.
Our personal lives and our work lives have become more agile. It’s not always about being in the office on specific days or even specific working hours.
The problem is that the two terms – hybrid work and flexible work – are often conflated to the point that many people end up thinking they’re one and the same. But nothing could be further from the truth. They are two distinctly different concepts. So, understanding what sets them apart could be critical for your business strategy to establish the right work model for the best employee engagement over the long term.
Let’s clear up the key differences between hybrid work and flexible work and explore the most important things to consider when 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.
Interestingly, our data finds 24% of people who are already fully remote working want to switch to a hybrid working model. Why? There are a number of reasons, but one trend that we’ve been tracking is work from home loneliness.
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. First, 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 working styles work best 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.
Hybrid, flexible, or fully remote work requires reliable, fast collaboration software
We can’t always be together in an office collaborating in person anymore. This is today’s reality.
You need collaboration technology that seamlessly synchronizes across multiple hybrid environments on your laptop, smartphone, hot desk – wherever you may be and with whatever smart device you use. There’s no flexibility in the workplace without mobility and cloud synchronization.
The same is true for desk booking or meeting room booking.
So, when you are planning to be in the office, wouldn’t it be great to know who else from your team will be there too? And that you can easily schedule a personal desk space or book an in-person meeting space right from that platform you’re already using?
Easily find and reserve the spaces you need and ensure that they’ll be ready for you when you arrive. It’s flexible working without the hassle.
See for yourself how Condeco and Microsoft Teams can help you work smarter together today.