5 Hybrid Workplace Model Trends of 2021 You Need to Know

Published: April 5, 2021

Since COVID-19 upended our lives, employees worldwide started settling into the rhythms of remote work. As the dust settles, companies have started thinking about the best way for their employees- namely, the hybrid workplace model. 

A study conducted by SIEPR ( Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research) revealed that 55% of US workers want a mixture of onsite and remote working. Employers expect the proportion of remote workers to increase from 18% pre-pandemic to 37% post-pandemic in the UK. In China, employment expert Alicia Tung has predicted that there will be a 60/40 split of onsite/remote work in the next ten years’ time.

Thus, it is safe to say that hybrid workplace models are the future. Marco Minervini, an organizational design researcher at the business school INSEAD in Singapore, noted that different hybrid working models would rise amid the ongoing uncertainty. A combination of remote work with onsite work. 

The hybrid work model provides more freedom around when and where to work. It grants more autonomy to employees to fit work around their lives, rather than structuring their lives on a weekday around hours spent in an office. Ideally, it is the best of both worlds- structure and amicability on one hand and independence and flexibility on the other. 

While hybrid is key to understanding the more flexible future of work, it encompasses different trends. This blog puts together many of these trends for you to plan better. Keep scrolling to learn more. 

Also Read: How to Design a Hybrid Workplace 

Trend #1: Safety First

Workplace safety isn’t just a topic for manufacturing and warehouse. With the oscillating COVID cases, employees opting to return-to-office want safety. Employers need to devise policies and procedures that ensure all employees feel safe. Undertaking health surveys, recording temperature, developing sick leave policies, and warranting a sanitization process is a must. 

Studies have shown that coronavirus doesn’t spread in open spaces or places with good ventilation. Before returning to the office, consider installing high-efficiency air filters and better ventilation systems to reduce workplace interiors’ viral load. 

Identify the potential hotspots at your workplace. Consider all the high-traffic areas and touchpoints of your facility. This could include door handles, elevator buttons, lobbies, cafeteria, bathrooms, and light switches. After recognizing such places, plan to mitigate risk in those areas with additional cleaning and disinfection efforts. 

Install contactless access system throughout the office. This will ensure that your employees will have touch-free access to and inside the office. Ensure that employees maintain social distancing protocols. 

Safety is not an option. It is a necessity. Therefore, protocols to ensure maximum safety will be the top trend as employees return-to-office. 

Recommended Reading: How to Reopen Offices Safely 

Trend #2: Flexible Work Schedules 

Before the pandemic, flexibility was a perk. However, post-pandemic workplaces will see a rise in flexible schedules. To attract and retain talent, flexible schedules have become a necessity. Offering this flexibility can benefit your company as well. Providing flexible schedules can increase morale and productivity while also reducing stress. 

As an employer, you will have to recognize your workforce’s needs and desires. You need to understand your employees’ concerns and work with them to develop flexible work schedules. Employees value flexibility. You need to acknowledge where remote work is more effective and prepare a schedule accordingly. The return to work process will be effective only when employees are on board. 

A PWC survey also revealed that 58% of employees, when asked in a survey how they feel about remote work at their company, want to work remotely at least 3 days a week. 43% of executives prefer flexible schedules or want to be back in the office as soon as possible. With people having varied opinions, flexible schedules will rule the workplaces in 2021. 

Bonus read: 73% of CEOs want a flexible work model 

Trend #3: Dispersed & Decentralized Global Workforce 

Before COVID-19, there was a subset of full-time remote workers. However, the pandemic forced organizations to be more flexible. This has resulted in companies seeking out talent rather than talent seeking companies. An HBR analysis shows that companies listed 33% more skills on job ads in 2020 than they did in 2017. Organizations cannot reskill their existing workforce fast enough to meet the requirements. Thus, they will hire more remote freelance workers. 

83% of employees are relocating due to remote working, and 20% have already done so either permanently or temporarily. Essentially, the workforce has become dispersed and global.  

Companies like Nationwide and REI have also decentralized their offices to reduce real estate costs and keep employees safe. Nationwide has been working-from-office in four main corporate campuses and has allowed remote working in all other locations. REI has sold its headquarters and moved its employees to multiple locations allowing complete work-from-home. 

This dispersion and decentralization have opened numerous avenues for job seekers in second-tier cities like Austin and Denver. And if experts believe that this is not going to change anytime soon. Thus, becoming a major trend this year. 

Also Read: How to Manage a Hybrid Team 

Trend #4: Scaling Technology for Better Mental Health 

Digital technology has become more critical than ever. While companies found Zoom and Slack apps to ensure the smooth running of operations, they need to find a permanent solution to maintain company culture in a hybrid workplace model. Engaging with employees scattered across various locations can be a challenge. However, leveraging technology can help ensure better mental health for your employees. 

Even with employees on-site, you can host meeting online. You can conduct networking or team-building exercises online. If you want to retain your employees, you need to take care of your employees during this difficult time. 

There are many wellness apps like Calm, Headspace, Classpass, BetterHelp, and Virgin Pulse, which help you deal with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Adobe offers employees virtual well-being seminars, 24/7 counseling services, and complete access to Calm and Headspace.

The stigma surrounding mental health is finally shattering. Using technology to support them can result in a lot of positive. And there is no doubt that this will become a massive trend in the hybrid workplace model. 

Trend #5: Change in Real-estate Portfolio 

The introduction of hybrid workplaces has lead to a reduction in office real estate. In a study conducted by PWC, 31% of executives anticipate the need for less space due to the number of remote workers increasing. The need to align real estate strategy with the hybrid workplace strategy is gaining momentum. 

Most companies are evaluating their real estate strategy to enhance the experience of all those employees returning to the office. In fact, many executives are considering taking up the opportunity to get creative with the workplace. The goal is to create a workplace that enhances collaborations and company culture at large. 

An increase in collaborative hubs, the introduction of private offices, and the implementation of social distancing are some of the changes we can expect in the office real-estate scenario. Space needs will now be dictated by the number of workers in the office each day, space required to be productive and meet health safety concerns. 

Whether companies will reduce their existing real estate footprints as they move to more remote work models or use flexible office space to meet fluctuating space needs is a trend that will dictate most of the hybrid workplaces in 2021. 

Read More: How to Optimize your Real Estate Cost 

To Conclude

The introduction of the hybrid workplace model is a testimony to changing landscapes. These trends are only a few of many. You can also read here the top features a hybrid workplace management software should have. To stay on top of these trends, subscribe to our blog now. 

WorkInSync has become a trendsetter in the hybrid workplace model. Opt for a demo to witness them yourselves.

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