The digital workforce is growing and work from home has become common, but individual businesses may define hybrid work in different ways. There are several unique models for hybrid work based on a business’s needs and operations. Hybrid working models can provide flexibility for employees, save money on office space and make your business more appealing to new employees.

However, not all small businesses will be able to support each of the various hybrid models. When you decide to implement a hybrid working model at your small business, choose one based on the specific needs of your business. Whether you choose an office-centric model or a remote-first model, understanding the various options for hybrid work will help you make the right choice for your small business.

A small business team uses a hybrid working model, with some in office and some videoconferencing during a meeting.

Office-centric

In the office-centric model, employees are expected to come to the office or workplace for most of the workweek. One or two days per week, employees may be allowed to work from home or another location. In this hybrid working model, employees may have a stronger sense of community and a greater ability to collaborate in person.

For some small businesses, like doctors’ offices, this hybrid model may be the only option. Small businesses that require employees to interact with clients, customers or patients will need employees to work in-office for most of the week. For other small businesses, this model may be limiting as it requires all employees to live in the same area.

A small business teams uses a calendar to coordinate their schedules in a flexible hybrid working model.

Flexible

In a fully flexible model, employees have total control over when they come into the office and when they can work remotely. The flexibility of this model may improve employee productivity and morale, but you might need to coordinate when people will be in the office ahead of time to effectively collaborate. Because employees sometimes work in the office, the cost of office space will likely be comparable to the office-centric model. The flexible hybrid model can be a good option for small businesses that primarily work online, but not small businesses that require in-person customer interaction.

A flexible hybrid model can be a great incentive in a competitive job market. Allowing employees to choose how and where they work best can improve employee retention and attract top talent. When evaluating a flexible model, consider if your small business will require someone to be in the office each day. Employees may all choose to work from home on the same day, which could result in problems for some small businesses if clients show up to the office unannounced. This issue is avoidable, but you’ll need clear communication.

Remote friendly

Employees can work remotely but with some limitations in place under the remote-friendly model. There are multiple ways to implement the remote-friendly model. Some small businesses may require most employees to come to the office while also hiring fully remote workers living in other locations.

Another remote-friendly option is to allow employees to work remotely, but only when scheduled in advance. This can make it easier to coordinate when people will be in the office or workplace while still offering the benefit of remote work to employees. If your small business chooses this model, your employees may rely on online collaboration. Provide your in-office employees with reliable internet and make sure all employees understand videoconferencing etiquette.

The remote-friendly model can work for many different small businesses because it gives control to the owner while providing options for employees. Even if your small business requires some employees to come to work in person, like retail stores or boutique hotels, you can still implement a remote-friendly hybrid model by allowing some employees to work from home based on their job type. Social media managers or accountants, for example, might be able to complete their jobs at home.

Woman works from her couch with her dog in a remote-first hybrid working model.

Remote-first

The remote-first hybrid model empowers remote workers as much as those that come into the office. Business is conducted as if every employee worked remotely. It works to put everyone – people in the office and people working remotely – on the same playing field. All processes, decision-making, and workflows happen online, not in a specific location. This helps to break down silos that are often created by centering the office staff over remote workers.

Although this model requires a physical office location, you may be able to save money on office space as employees will be coming and going less frequently. For small businesses that travel or meet with clients often, like real estate agencies, this model can be effectively implemented. Small businesses that primarily offer digital services can also utilize this hybrid model. Although a remote hybrid model might make it more difficult for employees to connect, advances in technology can allow them to keep collaborating and participate in virtual team building activities.

A small business team works from the office.

More to consider

If you’re considering a hybrid working model for your small business, it’s important to consider your business’s needs and limitations. Some businesses might not be able to support a remote hybrid model. Others might be limited by the office-centric approach. No matter what option you choose, setting clear expectations for your employees will set your small business up for success.