Is Having a Hybrid Workplace Worth It?

Nate Matherson
December 22, 2021

The Great Resignation is here and it might change the U.S. workforce forever.

In case you didn’t know, U.S. workers are quitting their jobs at unprecedented rates. This is especially true for workers aged 20-34, a quarter of whom are not currently in the US workforce. Even Elon Musk is considering quitting his job.

With increased demand for products and services post pandemic, there are more open jobs than ever. So why are companies struggling to fill these positions?

Harvard researchers say it’s because employees want flexible work. During the shut-down many workers have had the chance to work from home. Productivity has remained high, and in some cases improved, and employees are reporting huge boosts to work-life balance and overall happiness.

As companies have begun transitioning their staff back into the office, many workers have made it clear that going back to a traditional 9-to-5 just isn’t going to work for them. If their productivity can remain high, and they can be happier at home, why should they want to go back into the office?

Smart businesses are listening to their employees, and finding ways to accommodate their preferences. Wary of losing all in-person interactions among the business, many companies, like ContainIQ, a Kubernetes monitoring platform, are shifting to a hybrid system where workers can split time between their homes and the office.

Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Workplace

While hybrid work might seem great on paper, there are some potential complications as well. Done right, hybrid work can increase employee happiness and productivity, while saving the company money along the way.

But when it’s done wrong, employees can become frustrated with the logistical hassles, and company culture can deteriorate. 

Pro: Attract and Retain Better Employees

For companies struggling to attract employees, offering a hybrid work model can shoot their business to the top of the list for prospective workers.

Even if a company isn’t struggling to fill positions, a more progressive workplace is going to help them attract better employees. When deciding between two job offers, assuming all else is equal, highly skilled workers will always choose the one whose schedule better fits their lifestyle.

In the past, factors like pay and prestige have been the main considerations for people on the job hunt. However, in the current work climate the ability to pick and choose when you work is as valuable as ever

And it doesn’t stop with better hires; it also helps with retaining the ones they already have. High turnover can be costly for a business – the average hiring cost for mid-size American companies is north of $4,000

Keeping employees happy with a hybrid workplace means higher productivity and lower turnover. 

Con: Less Face to Face Time with Co-Workers

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is that connecting with people through a screen is difficult.

Negative effects on culture and connectivity are the biggest fears most companies have with transitioning to flexible work schedules. While the hybrid approach does allow for more face to face interactions, there will inevitably be less time for people to interact.

One way that companies can compensate for less time is by increasing the quality of time that people are spending together. Workers generally aren’t making bonds in big meetings, or while working at solo projects at their desk.

Instead, it’s important for companies adopting hybrid models to determine when their employees are truly bonding. This might mean making more time for things like:

  • Collaborative projects
  • After-work socials
  • Networking events with other team or departments

Unfortunately, it can be a struggle to get on the same page about when people will be in the office. To take full advantage of something like a networking event, it’s helpful to know when those other employees will actually be there. 

Luckily, there are tools, like Officely, that can make employee communication simple in a hybrid setting. By taking full advantage of these services, employers can ensure that they are promoting collaboration and community in a hybrid model.

Pro: Less Overhead

At the height of the pandemic all I could think of when I looked at the NYC skyline was about the companies who were paying tens of thousands of dollars a month on empty corporate spaces.

This begs the question, “How important are those spaces even when they are filled with ‘productive’ employees?” If employees could be just as productive at home, it seems like many businesses could be saving a ton on real estate expenses. 

This is one of the most obvious benefits to a hybrid work model – businesses can seriously reduce their overhead costs.

While a hybrid approach still requires some office space, every desk that can be consolidated means big savings. One study recently found that the average American business spends $18,000 per desk!

In some cases employers will need to reimburse employees for spending money on at home office equipment, but the net savings are still huge for companies who choose to downsize their corporate offices. 

Con: Employees Won’t Have Their Own Desks

The problem with consolidating desks is that employees won’t be able to come back to their own workspace every time they come in. 

This can bring up a bunch of potential complications. Employees might be confused about when a certain desk is available. Overbookings can cause people to show up when there aren’t enough desks for everyone. 

To solve this many companies are using hot desking, a system in which employees can book their desk ahead of time.

But hot-desking won’t work if a business isn’t committed to doing it right. Having an organized system is a must. Spreadsheets and Excel docs are clunky, and rarely effective.

The good news is implementing this type of organized system isn’t hard. Products like Officely can handle all desk booking needs with its sleek, easy-to-use app that is built right into Slack. This means that the same channel a company uses for communication can also be the one it uses to book desks, run health screenings, and plan meaningful activities for employees.

Once an efficient hot desking system is in place, there are actually ways this con can be leveraged into a pro. Hot desking allows employees from different departments to see each other more regularly. This means higher rates of inter-departmental collaboration and a closer-knit community across the company. 

Hybrid Workplaces are Here to Stay

At the beginning of the pandemic, many wondered if working from home was going to be a viable option forever.

Now, 18 months later, we know one thing for certain – working from home, in some capacity, is set to become the new corporate norm.

And while some companies have stayed fully remote, there are plenty of CEO’s who have reservations about abandoning the energy and connections that are built from in-person work. The hybrid model allows for the best of both worlds, and will be the go-to format for most companies moving forward.

The real question isn't if hybrid work is here to stay. Instead business leaders need to focus on how their company can thrive in the hybrid space; on how they can capitalize on its benefits, and navigate its pitfalls.

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Nate Matherson
Co-founder, and CEO of ContainIQ

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