What is hybrid work: tips & benefits

Benefits, Challenges & Tips — What is Hybrid Work?

After the COVID-19 pandemic, work-life balance became a hot topic for employees and business managers. The prolonged working-from-home period, often called the "era of the nowhere office," altered workplace dynamics, ushering in a new flexibility. This shift paved the way for the widespread adoption of a hybrid work model across various industries.

However, implementing the hybrid work model was often rushed without properly considering its drawbacks and benefits. So, what is hybrid work, and where does this working model stand within the industry? Let's delve into the topic.

What is hybrid work?

Hybrid work mixes remote and in-office work. In this flexible work model, some employees work from home, while others work in the office or as a mixture. Therefore, hybrid and remote workers can choose which model works for them, with the organization supporting their choices.

At the pandemic's beginning, the number of employees working from home more than five days per week rose significantly. Businesses suddenly needed to balance allowing workers to carry out their duties at home and retaining office operations when necessary.

Also, after the pandemic, workers' expectations and attitudes of many employers have altered, prompting employers to investigate hybrid work and flexible working.

However, finding a suitable flexible work model isn't simple. Companies must design jobs to suit individuals' needs while facilitating workspaces that provide maximum flexibility.

Beyond that, there's a need to create inclusive work arrangements that engage and support remote workers. Above all, they need to ensure that every employee can work securely.

Why create a hybrid work model?

Research from Global Workplace Analytics indicates the financial impact of workplace distractions, costing businesses an estimated $600 billion annually. Embracing remote work initiatives reduces attrition rates and unscheduled absences and enhances productivity. According to the research, 77% of professionals feel more productive when working remotely. Specifically, Gen Z and Gen X individuals reported an 80% productivity boost and 76% millennials.

However, the benefits of hybrid work go beyond enhanced productivity. Nearly one-third of professionals believe it positively influences career advancement, while only one-fifth perceive a negative impact. Additionally, remote and hybrid work models create employment opportunities for those facing unemployment or underemployment.

Global Workplace Analytics also highlights the broader benefits of a hybrid work environment. It fosters a healthier work environment by mitigating potential discrimination, promoting employee empowerment and collaboration, and allowing companies to scale faster.

Types of hybrid business models

Hybrid work blurs the traditional lines of fully remote and strictly office companies. Yet, the working model itself can be organized in several ways, meaning that hybrid work can mean entirely different things.

Office-based with limited remote work

In this scenario, employees are encouraged to maintain office culture, with remote arrangements as an occasional perk. Usually, employees work remotely only in particular situations, such as illness or contact with COVID-19. Key meetings and training sessions are expected to occur in person.

Office-based with unlimited remote work

The emphasis is on returning to the office, while remote arrangements are seen as a natural addition. This might entail dedicating specific days to in-office activities, with remote options available on others. In this case, the office is a space for collaboration.

Remote-focused with a workplace

The physical office serves a secondary role in operations with this hybrid work approach. Instead, digital tools facilitate communication with employees worldwide as a collaboration solution. While this strategy enables access to global talent, it can pose challenges in preserving company culture.

Remote-focused without a workplace

Employees want face-to-face collaboration but on their own terms. Few of us want to be in an office full-time anymore. This setup's operations are entirely digital, without a fixed physical office. Occasionally, the workspace may be rented, or team-building activities may be organized for in-person meetings. The model heavily relies on digital tools for work completion and colleague communication.

Benefits of hybrid work

A well-balanced hybrid model can provide employees the best of both worlds: flexibility to work on their terms and direct contact with their teammates. It's an approach that brings numerous benefits.


Instead of being offered a single option, employees are free to choose a work model that suits them. This means it's much easier to have a healthy work-life balance without any losses to the company. If work gets done, it's rarely a priority to look into how it was completed.


Specific tasks can be completed far more efficiently from the comfort of your home, especially when employees have a peaceful environment to focus on their work without the disruptions of loud, open office spaces. This flexibility is a hallmark of the hybrid work model, enabling productivity gains for solo projects while also providing collaborative workspaces when bigger teams must be involved.

Easier employee retention

Work from anywhere has become recruiters' buzzword for attracting top talent. This aspect is considered during the application process, as many individuals, having experienced the benefits of working from home, are reluctant to return to a full-time office setup. The hybrid work model also prevents recruiters from being constrained within a single geographic location.

Disadvantages of hybrid work

As organizations transition to hybrid work environments, it's essential to recognize the potential drawbacks associated with this model. Here are some disadvantages to consider:

Disadvantage #1: difficulty in collaborating with remote workers

Employees may have different schedules in a hybrid work setup, leading to missed opportunities for spontaneous collaboration. To address this, investing in suitable technology is essential. Workplace management tools, acting as a collaboration solution, can help employees see when their colleagues will be on-site and plan collaborations accordingly.

Disadvantage #2: requires regular oversight and maintenance

Maintaining a hybrid work model demands careful attention. Balancing freedom and flexibility with necessary oversight and policies is crucial. For instance, leaders might adopt a hybrid approach, scheduling team on-site days to boost morale and collaboration.

Flexibility may be limited, but it's essential for fostering teamwork and allowing remote work for the rest of the week. Adaptability is critical to addressing changing team needs, such as adjusting in-office days periodically to ensure overall team satisfaction.

Disadvantage #3: not suitable for all industries

The hybrid work model isn't a fit for all workplaces or industries. It's most effective for computer-based roles, but sectors like healthcare, education, and manufacturing require on-site presence for operations.

According to the McKinsey report, approximately 20% to 25% of the workforce in advanced economies could work from home between three and five days a week. This represents a significant increase in remote work compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Challenges of the hybrid work model

While hybrid work is an appealing model for employees, it has challenges. Before making this significant decision, it's also essential to consider the following factors.


The functional hybrid work model heavily relies on proper technological implementation. Poorly implemented remote working systems can result in frustration as communication tools experience disruption or cloud databases are unavailable. Using poorly implemented solutions may lead to productivity losses.


When businesses shift to hybrid work models, they can lose sight of staff rewards and promotions. In the office, people tend to know where they stand. Hierarchies are apparent to everyone, and advancement is well understood. In remote working environments, none of that is obvious.

Managers may also show a bias towards office workers. Gartner reports that 64% of managers say they are more likely to reward office workers than hybrid workers because they feel more productive. Statistics suggest that isn't true, but the bias against working from home is accurate.


Remote workers may face marginalization compared to their office colleagues, hindering their effectiveness and career growth. Without ensuring their inclusion, hybrid work models risk faltering. Even in meetings where everyone participates, remote workers might feel less engaged due to the virtual setting.

That's why many hybrid work setups mandate virtual attendance for all, ensuring equal participation and visibility for everyone, regardless of their location. The hybrid work model mitigates these challenges by providing flexibility and inclusivity, fostering a more balanced working week for all employees.


Cybersecurity concerns all businesses, regardless of their stance on hybrid work. However, the expansion of working remotely presents unique challenges.

With numerous employees connecting remotely, the company's network perimeter expands, creating a larger target for cyber attackers. This increases the risk of ransomware attacks and data breaches.

During the pandemic, we witnessed numerous cyberattacks targeting companies that relied on remote work. Therefore, all hybrid work systems must undergo thorough assessment, mapping, and proper security measures to mitigate these risks.


How should hybrid workplaces be managed? Should leaders be based in the office, or should they be working from home? These questions inevitably arise when shifting from traditional offices to hybrid work models, and they can be crucial.

Remote working tends to struggle when leadership teams are office-based. Workers want to remain close to managers, stay informed, collaborate, and ensure that their efforts are rewarded. Because of this, many companies instruct leaders to work remotely, reducing the incentive for other workers to attend offices unnecessarily.

However, this can lead to leadership issues if control is lost, and some teams require in-person guidance. An effective hybrid work model is about striking a balance that suits each management situation.

What is the difference between hybrid and remote work?

The distinction between these work types lies in the time spent in the office. Virtual work typically has minimal or no office requirements. In contrast, the hybrid work model blends both remote and in-office elements.

Remote workers often include freelancers or contractors for specific tasks. On the other hand, hybrid employees are usually full-time staff members, with a greater emphasis on company culture.

How to implement a hybrid work environment

Introducing a hybrid work model demands thorough consideration across all business aspects. Before making the shift, managers should assess both the advantages and disadvantages.

  • Identifying which jobs can be performed remotely, even for a fraction of the time, is essential. Some job roles, i.e., administration, can't be done remotely.

  • Establish precise requirements for hybrid work, so employees know when they're expected to participate in person and when they can work remotely.

  • Ensure your office has sufficient meeting spaces and technology to facilitate connections with remote employees. The effectiveness of the hybrid work model hinges on the office's ability to seamlessly accommodate all types of workers.

  • Scheduling days with fewer meetings is beneficial to prevent video conferencing fatigue and maintain higher engagement levels, especially within a hybrid work schedule.

  • Using screen recordings provides an effective strategy to reduce the need for meetings. Team members can easily share updates, demonstrations, and presentations, fostering collaboration across different time zones and saving precious time.

While these general tips should contribute to a more effective workplace, each organization is different, so it's always essential to consider its unique position. Implementing a comprehensive hybrid work solution can tailor strategies to meet specific organizational needs.

Hybrid work and cybersecurity risks

Virtual work is closely associated with cyber risks. According to Deloitte, 25% of homeworkers reported an increase in phishing emails during the pandemic and in data breaches caused by remote workers.

That's why cybersecurity is key to an effective hybrid work model. These measures could include:

  • Your staff should use VPNs when connecting to central resources.

  • Cloud storage should be protected by secure encryption.

  • All employees, including remote and in-office workers, must use strong passwords that are regularly changed.

  • Patches for critical software have to be applied when available.

  • Workers should always use a virus checker approved by the security team.

  • Data handling practices must be as tight as possible, with minimal local storage.

  • All staff should only connect via secure networks.

Ensure clear communication with your staff by integrating a cybersecurity protocol into your core hybrid work policies. Outline the necessary steps for auditing home security best practices. For any cybersecurity inquiries, consider consulting NordLayer experts, who specialize in security solutions for distributed teams.

Creating a hybrid workplace? NordLayer can help

Hybrid workplaces offer flexibility, productivity, convenience, and cost-effectiveness. However, security challenges arise as endpoints increase and employees shift to remote or hybrid work. But that shouldn't stall your transition to a hybrid work model; it should prompt you to choose a trusted security partner.

NordLayer specializes in guiding companies through the transition to hybrid work models. Our SASE technology secures network edges with a Zero-Trust approach, safeguarding cloud-based resources with robust encryption.

With our help, you can embrace hybrid working safely. Get in touch, explore the options, and make remote working part of your business future.

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