How to Build an Effective Hybrid Strategy in 5 Steps
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  • How to Build a Successful Hybrid Strategy: 5-Step Guide

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Patrick Isitt
Content Manager
Content specialist in office design and build.
  • The hybrid working model has become a mainstay in the future of work conversation over the last few years, but for many businesses, there’s still a gap to bridge between hybrid work and workplace strategy. According to Gallup, 6 in 10 employees want more structure around their company’s hybrid policies and in-office expectations, with that lack of clarity proving to be one of the biggest obstacles facing a successful return-to-office.

    There is still a lot of uncertainty about how to best approach hybrid working, but we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every company will view hybrid working slightly differently, with objectives, people and culture all playing a pivotal role in what great looks like for an effective strategy.

    If hybrid working is going to be a successful, long-term solution for your business in the new world of work, implementing it correctly is crucial. That’s why we’ve put together 5 key steps to building an effective hybrid strategy to help you establish a strong foundation before making any impactful changes to your workplace.

  • Download The Guide to the Hybrid Workplace

    Every business will approach hybrid working differently. Our Guide to the Hybrid Workplace is designed to help you understand the key components of hybrid working and how to introduce it to your workplace.

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  • What is a hybrid working strategy?

    Hybrid work is by no means a new concept, but the global adoption of it in recent years has highlighted gaps that a well-thought-out strategy has helped many businesses to solve. Hybrid work itself defines a flexible approach to work that combines locations (typically home and the office) with a focus on achieving the best of both worlds. A hybrid working strategy, then, incorporates workplace, technology, design, objectives, teams and people – and brings them all together to create guidelines for how the business will work.

  • What are the benefits of a hybrid working strategy?

    Having a strategy underpinning a flexible approach to work is hugely beneficial for both a business and its employees. With clear guidelines, employees can tailor their working week to their needs to give themselves increased flexibility and greater control over their work-life balance. By enabling this, an effective strategy should boost employee engagement which ultimately drives wellbeing, company culture and productivity.

    Many have found over the last few years that their workplace isn’t optimised for hybrid working, and one of the biggest impacts from that has been the shift towards smaller, more intentionally designed spaces. So, there’s also the potential for an effective hybrid working strategy to help reduce overheads in the long run.

  • 1. Establish your objectives

    Although hybrid working has become a bit of a buzzword in the conversation surrounding the future of work, it’s not necessarily right for every business. Exploring how a hybrid strategy will help your business achieve its objectives is a good place to start in determining the need for a change to the workplace. This should act as a prerequisite for the following steps, as every hybrid strategy needs to start with your ‘why’.

    For some, the ‘why’ might be strengthening company culture which may have suffered over the last few years as a top priority, while others may be looking to reduce or optimise operational costs as a primary focus. Your objectives will ultimately help you set your metrics for success, and give you guidelines for what you want your strategy to help you achieve.

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  • 2. Define operational needs

    Each department will have different operational needs, and therefore a hybrid strategy for your finance team may look different to one for your IT team. You’ll need to determine how your operational needs might impact any proposed changes to your workplace, such as:

    • Client needs: For client-facing teams, it’s often easier to have employees together to remain agile and solve problems at speed. If this is the case for your business, you’ll want to ensure there is sufficient support for your clients throughout the week, which could impact how often and when employees are expected to be in the office.

    • Tech requirements: Being ready for hybrid working means having the tools and technology to support your individuals and teams, making work seamless across home offices, coworking spaces and shared conference rooms – wherever work is done. Before jumping into a full-scale strategy shift, audit your current set-up to ensure hybrid collaboration is going to be possible for your teams.

    • Cross-departmental collaboration: Each team will have its own requirements when it comes to working locations, with some departments better suited to in-person collaboration while others may appreciate the heads-down time at home. But, intra-team collaboration mustn’t be overlooked and you’ll need to ensure that it remains a priority when outlining your strategy. This could mean lining up in-office days for certain departments, or encouraging each team to share their proposed schedule in advance of the working week or month.

    • Employee preferences: Following the shift to remote work during the pandemic, employee habits and preferences have changed. This isn’t to say that you should strive to meet every single need, but a hybrid strategy must be a consultative process that considers the voice of your employees when assessing any big changes that may be made to working locations or patterns.

  • 3. Review current space demands

    Hybrid working relies on the fact that not everyone will be in the office at the same time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need less space. One of the most common solutions is to optimise your existing space following a review of your current demands, which will allow you to better understand what you need more of, and what you can afford to lose.

    Here are a few things to consider when assessing how your office is currently being used:

    • How often are your meeting rooms occupied?
    • How many desks are occupied? (Calculate this on your quietest and your busiest days)
    • Are teams positioned effectively in the office?
    • Are there particular areas people prefer to work in?

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  • Answering these questions will not only allow you to gain clarity on the type of environment that will best support your hybrid strategy, but it will also enable you to set the foundations of your brief – which you can then hand to an in-house team or design and build experts.

    If the conclusion when reviewing your current space demands is that you think a new office might be better suited to your proposed hybrid strategy, working out how much space your team needs will be the best starting point for beginning the office search planning process.

  • 4. Communicate changes and expectations

    It’s no secret that a great number of businesses have been trying to overcome the challenges associated with the return-to-work. At the heart of empty offices, a diminishing culture and disengaged employees is the absence of clarity regarding expectations in the new world of work.

    A hybrid strategy can incorporate huge changes, such as mandated days, ways of collaborating or even a new workspace, so communication a crucial step in achieving buy-in. This isn’t just one company-wide message sent out the week before changes are made – it’s keeping every employee in the loop throughout, communicating via every channel and continuing to evolve the strategy alongside them.

    Here are a few things to consider when communicating with the business:

    • Team meetings: Allocate time for individual discussions with each team lead regarding the intended strategy, so that they can address any potential issues before the rollout. This can also act as your filter down to each team member.

    • Written communication: Put your strategy in a place everyone can easily find, like the company’s intranet or HR system. This document should have clear instructions about how work will happen and what is expected of employees.

    • Company-wide meeting: Whether it’s a Quarterly Business Review or a weekly team lunch, take the opportunity to share the proposed strategy with people face-to-face. This way, you can explain the reasons behind the changes clearly and directly, and it gives employees a chance to ask questions and get immediate answers.

  • 5. Workplace design

    The way we use the office has changed, which means that workplace design has to evolve to support hybrid working. From the layout to the types of spaces that are utilised, the office now needs to cater to all styles of working, creating spaces for focus work, collaboration and socialising to present real value to employees.

    For those who can’t work remotely or need the physical office to complete their primary work tasks, it’s crucial to design spaces for focus and wellbeing. But on the other end of the spectrum, open, collaborative areas create opportunities for cross-pollination between departments and facilitate those all-important chance encounters that cannot be scheduled or replaced with virtual meetings or calls.

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  • A well-designed hybrid office should empower new ways of working, attract and retain top talent and unite employees by creating a unique and purposeful experience on days in.

    Whether you are relocating offices or adapting your existing workplace, understanding what hybrid working can help your business achieve and communicating this with staff is crucial. The hybrid workplace will be driven by a positive employee experience and a clear vision of how to deliver on business objectives.

  • The Hybrid Workplace Lookbook

    We have designed hybrid workplaces for companies from a variety of sectors. Discover the value of a hybrid workplace and get inspired by these hybrid workplaces.

    Find Out More
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