Structured Hybrid Work: The Sweet Spot between In-Office and Remote?

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In the long haul of the return to the office, companies worldwide have grappled with finding the perfect balance between in-office collaboration and remote flexibility. Some thought that a radical approach would dust off the remote work glitter and employees will return to the “old” way of working. Others considered that a relaxed approach would keep their employees engaged, happy and productive, without extreme status changes. And then there were those who considered a more “balanced-to-structured” approach, that is gaining traction under the name of “structured hybrid work”. The emergence of structured hybrid work has offered a potential solution to the remote-in-office dilemma, providing a framework that combines the best of both worlds.

This concept gained significant attention in 2023 when major players like Zoom began advocating for a more structured approach to hybrid work. As the workforce adapted to remote work during the pandemic, companies realized the need for a more structured approach to maintain productivity and collaboration while offering employees the flexibility they desire.

But what exactly is structured hybrid work, and why has it gained momentum in recent years?


  • Structured hybrid work blends in-office collaboration with remote flexibility, offering a balanced approach to modern work. It involves predefined schedules that allow employees to split their time between remote and in-office work, promoting collaboration while accommodating flexibility. 
  • There are four models of structured hybrid work schedules, such as minimum days, specific days, minimum and specific days, and minimum percentage of time, each offering different degrees of flexibility and predictability.
  • Some of the most cited benefits are clear expectations, predictable space utilization, better employee sentiment, and savings on operational costs.
  • However, its long-term viability and impact on employee well-being remain subjects of debate. 
  • By implementing clear guidelines, leveraging technology, and maintaining transparency, companies can effectively navigate the transition to structured hybrid work and reap its benefits.

Structured Hybrid Work: Where Does the Structure Come From?

Structured hybrid work refers to a work arrangement that allows employees to split their time between working remotely and in the office, following a predefined schedule or set of guidelines. Unlike traditional remote work setups where employees have full autonomy over their schedules, structured hybrid work introduces a level of organization and predictability into the equation.

It has surged in popularity in the modern workplace landscape, driven by a convergence of factors from both organizational needs and employee preferences. For example, the shift to remote work during the pandemic led to a loss of collaboration, especially on a cross-functional basis, impacting organizational performance. To recapture this lost collaboration, many organizations are adopting this working model to provide a balance between remote and in-office work, ensuring that employees have opportunities for face-to-face interaction while accommodating the desired flexibility, ultimately fostering collaboration and innovation. 

Then, the stagnation of personal networks during the pandemic made it challenging for employees to forge new business relationships. Additionally, the challenges associated with mandates to return to the office, such as increased attrition and mental health claims, have prompted organizations to seek alternative work arrangements that address employee concerns while maintaining productivity and collaboration.

Therefore, this shift reflects a broader recognition of the need for adaptable and flexible work arrangements where remote collaboration tools and technological innovations play a crucial role in facilitating hybrid work environments. Common structured hybrid working models include, for now, minimum days, specific days, minimum and specific days, or minimum percentage of time. Let’s dive deeper!


Examples of Structured Hybrid Work Schedules

A structured hybrid work schedule clearly defines in-office work hours, providing a framework for employees to effectively plan their work and personal commitments. There are four key models:

Minimum Days

The minimum days model requires employees to be physically present in the office for a specific number of days each week without specifying which days. This provides control over schedules while ensuring a minimum level of in-person collaboration, not without the burden of coordinating schedules and ensuring that team members are present on overlapping days for effective collaboration. This may require more advanced planning and communication among team members.

Specific Days

The specific days model mandates certain dates or days of the week when employees must work in person, aligning with important workplace practices such as team meetings or project deadlines. This fixed schedule may limit an employee's flexibility on office days, making it challenging to balance personal commitments and work.

Minimum & Specific Days

In this model, employers combine the specific days and minimum days models to provide additional flexibility. Employees can set their own schedules and choose their in-person days. Like for the minimum days model, this requires more advanced planning and communication among team members.

Minimum Percentage of Time

Similar to the minimum days model, the minimum percentage of time model sets expectations for the percentage of work hours employees must spend in the office versus working from home. This offers freedom to design work schedules based on personal commitments.

While the popularity of each model varies depending on organizational culture and industry norms, recent data suggests that structured hybrid work is on the rise. According to the Flex report for Q2 2023, approximately 30% of US companies now offer structured hybrid work schedules. Among these, 70% have a minimum time component in their policy, 18% follow the "minimum days" schedule, while 6% adopt the "specific days" schedule.

structured HW schedules-16

Work Location Flexibility in the US, in Numbers (Q1 2024)

According to recent data, work location flexibility in the US has seen a significant increase, with structured hybrid work emerging as the fastest-growing option. This model went from 20% of companies in Q1 2023 to 32% in Q1 2024. There’s nearly an even three-way split on work location flexibility for US companies, where 33% of firms are fully flexible, 32% are structured hybrid and 35% of companies thar require employees to be full time in the office.

One key insight from the Flex report for Q2 2023 is that structured hybrid work model has the fastest growing adoption rate among companies, with a 12% increase from last year. The benefits of structured hybrid work extend beyond mere flexibility, offering tangible advantages for both employees and employers. Let’s have a closer look.

Benefits of Structured Hybrid Work

The adoption of a structured hybrid work model comes with several benefits for both employees and employers:

Clear Expectations for Hybrid Workforce

Establishing clear guidelines and expectations ensures that employees understand their roles and responsibilities within the hybrid work environment. For instance, companies like Buffer provide detailed documentation outlining expectations for remote and in-office work, fostering clarity and accountability among team members.

More Predictability in Space Utilization

Additionally, structured hybrid work facilitates more predictable space utilization, enabling companies to optimize office resources effectively. For example, companies have implemented desk booking systems that allow employees to reserve workspace in advance, ensuring that office space is utilized efficiently. This not only reduces real estate costs but also creates a more organized and productive work environment.

Better Employee Sentiment

Moreover, the balanced nature of structured hybrid work contributes to better employee sentiment. According to the same Flex report for Q2 2023, structured hybrid work and fully flexible public companies outperform their full-time office peers on employee sentiment. While a 0.13-0.14 score difference might not seem like a lot, across hundreds of thousands of Glassdoor surveys it represents a material difference in perspective on employers.

Savings on Operational Costs

The structured hybrid work model offers businesses numerous avenues for cost savings. For example, by reducing the need for dedicated office space and infrastructure, companies can lower expenses associated with rent, utilities, and equipment. Additionally, employees benefit from decreased commuting costs, contributing to overall financial savings. Streamlining overhead costs, such as catering and cleaning services, further enhances operational efficiency.

Overall, the adoption of structured hybrid work brings about a myriad of benefits, but somehow, the phenomenon has stirred a big debate that can put at stake the future of this model. What is it about?

employee in a flexible workplace working from home

The Big Debate: Is Structured Hybrid the Future of Work?

The rise of structured hybrid work has sparked a debate about its long-term viability and potential implications. While proponents argue that it represents the future of work, offering a perfect blend of flexibility and structure, skeptics raise concerns about its feasibility and impact on employee well-being.

Reasons to Believe Structured Hybrid Model Is the Future…

The structured hybrid working model emerges as a potential future of work, finding a middle ground between employers' desire for in-office collaboration and employees' newfound flexibility and productivity from remote work. This model, adopted by a majority of organizations surveyed, sets clear expectations for when employees need to be in the office, offering flexibility in choosing specific days or setting a minimum number of in-office days per week. 

Jennifer Dulski, a lecturer at Stanford’s Business School, highlights that rigid mandates often face resistance, with teams favoring autonomy in scheduling. The solution that seems to have worked best for her clients, which include some of the country’s largest corporations, is a not-so-structured hybrid approach — meaning giving individual teams authority to choose when they meet in-person, rather than demanding company-wide that people be present Tuesday to Thursday, for example.

So, as companies navigate the transition to hybrid environments, the data suggests that structured hybrid models are likely to become a permanent fixture in the future of work.

… And Why It Might Be Overestimated

On the other hand, the skeptics consider this model to rather be the “now of work” against the future of it. Although some reports suggest that 77% of the Fortune 100 have embraced structured hybrid as their primary work model, arguments against it abound, suggesting that it might not be the definitive solution. The pushback from employees, particularly those facing lengthy commutes or those who have relocated during the pandemic, underscores the persistent desire for remote work flexibility. 

Companies are increasingly recognizing the value of reducing commuting time and offering remote work options as powerful recruiting tools. However, it's important to acknowledge that not all roles can be performed remotely, and there remains a need for in-person collaboration in certain industries or job functions.

So, while it presents a compromise between remote and in-office work, its rigid guidelines may not accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of all employees and teams. As companies navigate its complexities, ongoing developments in collaboration technologies and meeting spaces indicate that the future of work remains dynamic and evolving, with structured hybrid work being just one of many possible models.


Implementing a Structured Hybrid Work Model: Best Practices and Tips

For companies looking to adopt a structured hybrid work model, here are some best practices to consider:

Clearly Communicate Your Expectations to Employees

Transparency is key to successful implementation. Clearly outline the guidelines and expectations for employees to ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. This transparency will not only align employers and employees’ objectives but will also help reduce confusion and potential conflicts. Additionally, clear communication helps employees feel valued and empowered, and can be the key to getting them back to work.

Create Choice by Offering a Mix of Workspaces in the Office

Provide employees with options for where and how they work in the office, catering to diverse preferences and needs. It will enhance their sense of autonomy and allow them to choose environments that best suit their tasks and working styles. Whether it's collaborative open spaces, quiet zones for focused work, or flexible areas for team meetings, offering a mix of workspaces promotes flexibility and productivity. Simply put, collaborative workspaces are designed to supercharge your teams' collaboration spirit.

Invest in Experience-Centered Hybrid Work Technologies

Leverage technology to facilitate seamless collaboration and communication between remote and in-office employees. Nowadays’ workplace experience software works like an all-in-one platform integrating different components, ranging from scheduling resources to collaborative tools, for seamless management. They are meant to enhance the overall employee experience by encouraging innovation and efficiency.

Space Booking Systems

For example, Yarooms is a comprehensive workplace experience platform designed to optimize workspace management and enhance the employee experience. It enables employees to reserve desks, meeting rooms, and other resources seamlessly, ensuring efficient office space utilization and avoiding scheduling conflicts.

Hybrid Work Planning Tools

Hybrid work planning tools provide visibility into team schedules and availability, allowing for better coordination of in-person and remote work. Yarooms hybrid work planning calendar provides organizations with an intuitive tool to manage flexible work schedules, no matter where the work happens. You can define planning targets or work-from-home thresholds, align scheduling with occupancy parameters, and ensure planning visibility to everyone in the organization. All of it - while maintaining employee autonomy to schedule their time, resources, and space in the office.

Discover Yarooms Hybrid Work Planning

Employee Mobile Applications

Moreover, integration with workplace communication tools, such as Microsoft Teams, streamlines the booking process by allowing users to initiate bookings directly within their preferred communication platform. These applications enable employees to book meeting rooms, reserve desks, or request facilities maintenance directly from their smartphones, enhancing convenience and accessibility.

Maintain Organizational Transparency

Keep employees informed about any changes or updates to your work policy and encourage open dialogue. For example, you can organize regular town hall meetings or virtual Q&A sessions where leadership can address questions and concerns, ensuring that all employees are kept informed and can voice their thoughts and feedback.

Gather Feedback, Monitor Workplace Utilization Data, and Adapt

Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the structured hybrid work model and adjust based on feedback and data. The Yarooms workplace analytics can bring clarity over metrics such as average office space utilization, the number of no-shows, the number of bookings, and many more. Using the heat map, location managers can see where in the office people tend to congregate (or where they don't spend time at all) and optimize accordingly.

Summing It Up

In conclusion, the structured hybrid work model emerges as a versatile solution to the changing landscape of work preferences. It's like the Swiss Army knife of work arrangements, offering a blend of in-office collaboration and remote flexibility. But, as with any new hero, it has its skeptics. Some wonder if it can truly accommodate the diverse needs of every employee. As we journey further into the era of work, it's clear that structured hybrid work is just one character in the story of evolving working practices. So, stay tuned, as this is only the “now” of work and there is definitely more to come!

Structured Hybrid Work: FAQ

How Do You Structure a Hybrid Work Schedule?

A hybrid work schedule is structured by defining clear guidelines for when employees work in the office and when they work remotely. This involves specifying certain days or a minimum number of days per week for in-office attendance, while allowing flexibility for remote work on other days. Effective communication of these guidelines ensures clarity and understanding among employees.

How Many Days a Week Is Hybrid Work?

The number of days per week in a hybrid work setup varies depending on company policies and individual roles. Generally, hybrid work involves splitting time between working in the office and remotely. Some companies may require a specific number of days in the office per week, while others offer flexibility for employees to choose remote work days based on their needs and job requirements.

What Is a 3:2 Hybrid Work Model?

A 3:2 hybrid work model refers to a schedule where employees work in the office for three days and remotely for two days each week. This model aims to balance in-person collaboration with the flexibility of remote work. It allows for significant face-to-face interaction while still providing some flexibility for remote work, promoting productivity and work-life balance.

Topics: Hybrid & remote work

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