What Is a Hybrid Office and Why Would I Want One?
These days, with internet connections getting faster and the pandemic having shown us that working from home is not only possible but often desirable, there’s a growing tendency for companies to embrace people varying their place of work between the office and their home — this is known as the hybrid office. It’s a bit of a change of pace from the traditional office, but we’re on hand to help you adjust!
What are the advantages of a hybrid office?
Some tasks are easier from a home office as there are fewer disruptions, whereas others are accomplished more effectively face to face. For a software developer, a brief interruption whilst writing code can set them back half an hour or more, so being able to set messenger software to “do not disturb” and get into the zone for a couple of hours is a wonderful opportunity. Planning work, however, is much more easily done in person where body language and whiteboards are a great aid to discussions.
For employees, being able to eliminate the commute is an enormous time-saver, allowing more time outside work for hobbies and socializing, as well as reducing stress. Flexible work schedules free time for school runs or mowing the lawn at lunchtime, reducing childcare costs, and, again lowering stress. For the company, only having part of the workforce in the office allows for hot-desk setups and reduced office space, slashing overheads.
How to run a hybrid office
Employees need to be able to work with ease in either location without disruption. Laptops are ideal as they can be transported between the two workplaces, ideally, with docking stations (external monitor, mouse, and keyboard) that can connect easily at either end. A VPN is essential to allow employees to use the office network as if they were onsite, and effective communication with colleagues, perhaps using XSplit Presenter for meetings or presentations, helps smooth any difficulties working with people who aren’t in the same location.
This is achieved by letting you include yourself in your slides, easily adding media sources, and having a virtual pointer. All of this allows for a professional and personal presentation during a meeting using the slides you already have in Google Slides or Microsoft Powerpoint. Another added benefit of XSplit Presenter is that it’s easy to use both from home and in the office.
Working conditions are very important – employees must have a suitable office space in their home. A laptop and a sofa definitely won’t work, and even working at a dining table is a temporary solution at best. An appropriate desk chair is a must, as is having sufficient space for screens, keyboard, and mouse, whilst still sitting comfortably. They will be spending a lot of time sat there, so ergonomics need to be taken seriously, or the employee risks injury.
The risks of this kind of office
The hybrid office presents an exciting opportunity for a new way of working, both for employees and employers. There are a few things to be wary of, however:
- Employees may become isolated going for long periods of time without seeing anyone. It’s worth making sure that you offer some online watercooler moments between colleagues, as they won’t be seeing each other as much.
- A hybrid office makes it easier to miss out on the sort of news that gets passed around through workplace chatter — whether this concerns an event in the company or tasks to be done, it’s important everyone’s kept well informed and up to date, perhaps by email or in a Slack or Teams chat.
- Some people struggle to switch between work mode and home, especially if they spend their personal time in the same place as they work. If you’re adapting to a hybrid office model, remember you’ll do yourself some good by getting a change of scenery and not spending all your time in the same chair.
- Children or pets in the household often don’t understand that someone is “at work”, as they’re still in the house. This means setting boundaries is important.
A hybrid office is a flexible and often very fruitful opportunity that’s worth looking into for many businesses. We’ve touched on this before in remote work and working from home and covered the hardware side in home setup upgrades you need, but there’s always more to learn!