5 Mistakes To Avoid With Hybrid Working (and How to Fix It)

Many companies inadvertently sabotage their efforts at creating a great workplace experience. There are many indicators – difficulty to bring people back to the office, a lack of engagement, an increasing percentage of employees feeling lonely and isolated, to name a few.

Here are a few common mistakes and what to do instead.

Mistake #1: Not looking into what employees want from an office

People prefer to be in the office for at least a part of their workweek. But that alone isn’t enough to bring them in. The office needs to be a destination worth commuting to. That starts with a clear understanding of what constitutes a great employee experience in the office for your people. Without it, organizations will continue to struggle to bring people back in or worse – fight a wave of the Great Resignation.

The solution? Start by identifying the hybrid working personas in your organization. Our research on hybrid working reveals that most companies will have a combination of these four:

  • The Adapter who prefers the office to be a mix of coworking hubs and silent zones for focused work.
  • The Soloist who defaults to working remotely but will come in for a face-to-face meeting.
  • The Culturalist who wants the office to be a space for collaboration and socializing.
  • The Traditionalist who prefers to work in the office full-time, at their assigned desk.

Understanding the mix of hybrid workers in your organization will be invaluable for evaluating how much office space to keep and how to design it for maximum effect.

Mistake #2: Underestimate the power of chance meetings

You may have noticed – most hybrid workers expect a workplace that facilitates collaboration. And not just to break free from the digital overwhelm.

Time in the office is their one chance to socialize, build relationships, network, and establish bonds with their colleagues and managers. It’s so important that 52% of US and UK workers prefer meeting in the office and 70% of Millennials and Gen Z fear loneliness and isolation if remote work becomes permanent.

It’s not just about optimizing your real estate costs either. Businesses with highly engaged employees see 41% lower absenteeism and considerably higher profitability. If collaboration and chance meetings aren’t happening in your offices (or if they’re hard to organize), you’re effectively dealing with the consequences of a poor workplace experience.

To fix it, give people the tools they need to curate more social and collaboration opportunities to promote employee engagement:

  • Access to teammates’ schedules to facilitate spontaneous encounter, casual catch-ups and collaboration.
  • Ability to see who is in the office, where they are sitting and when to come in for those who are working remotely.
  • Create recurring team schedules to boost engagement and productivity

Mistake #3: Lack of visibility and transparency

Employees want to come to the office. The problem is figuring out when best to come in. It’s not enough to just have a solution to book a desk or a meeting room when the rest of it – comparing schedules to pick a meeting time, finding the right spaces with amenities they need and also communicating all that back in an email – taking hours out of their workweek.

This is one of the primary reasons why so many workplace managers struggle to bring people back to the office. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s that setting up another video call is just so much easier and faster.

The solution? Take the guesswork out of planning ‘in office’ days with shared visibility of work schedules.

Imagine if your people needed no more than a few minutes to check their colleagues’ work schedules to plan their workday and know exactly when to expect feedback. If they could see where in the office their teammates or manager plan to be. Quickly and easily – on the go or at their desktop. No stress, no time wasted on commute. To achieve that, you’ll need:

  • Interactive floor plans offering real-time visibility into people’s movements. You can easily reserve a spot near your teammates and friends.
  • Shared work schedules, visualized all in one place to coordinate with your teammates’ working hours and locations for effective collaboration.
  • Recurring team meeting schedules that you can easily create and subscribe to.
  • Advanced team manager permissions like reserving desks or rooms on behalf of others to make the most of their ‘in office’ days.

No second-guessing your office days, annoyingly time-consuming meeting coordination, or time and money lost commuting to a half-empty office. 

Mistake #4: Unscalable space booking process (…excel sheets)

One of the biggest drivers of employee anxiety about returning to the office is fear of not finding a desk that matches their needs – at the time they need it. A fear that’s fuelled by a complicated desk booking process that’s buggy or difficult to use, or an excel spreadsheet that is simply incomprehensible.

Employees need more than a solution to book a desk or a room. They want to be able to easily locate a workspace that matches their needs for the day.

To implement an effective desk booking system, that can be achieved with:

  • Easy user experience. Your desk booking app should be a joy to use and a tool that saves time and improves the employee experience.
  • Real-time view of space availability (with a floor plan view) updated automatically and showing coworkers in the office.
  • Well-rounded safety measures with the ability block/unblock spaces, self-certification, and touchless mobile check-in.
  • Auto desk release to improve desk availability by releasing back to the pool workspaces that haven’t been checked into within a set time limit.
  • Scalability. With a comprehensive integrations and directory sync, you won’t have to worry about business growth negatively impacting your space management solution or the quality of the user experience.

Mistake #5: Without a process for optimization

So you’ve repurposed and refurbished your offices. The numerous employee surveys were a bit confusing (since their answers kept changing) but you’ve taken those into account. A sigh of relief. You’re done, right? You’re not. Employees’ needs and expectations, the way we work will continue to evolve.

Don’t believe us? Consider this:

  • Microsoft discovered that more than half of its employees were spending less than ¼ of their time in the office, compared to their original plans.
  • Trivago, a travel agency, spent months testing different scenarios for hybrid working and office setup until they found the optimal one.

The only way to offer a continuously great workplace experience is through a well-established process of data analysis and optimization.

In design thinking, it’s a well-established fact – people often don’t know what they really want until they try it in practice. Hence, the prototyping phase. You need a combination of both: employee surveys and tools that deliver granular space usage insights you need to easily put into action. That includes:

  • Space usage data to help you
    • identify the busiest times and areas and forecast demand;
    • assess the efficiency of the workplace setup;
    • identify opportunities to cut real estate;
    • evaluate work patterns and adjust accordingly.
  • Flexible policy settings that allow you to: 
    • change floor plans, add or remove desks on the fly;
    • A/B test workplace designs;
    • eliminate zombie bookings;
    • respond to changing conditions in real time.

With this level of actionable data, you’re prepared for any future scenarios. And let’s be honest, managing the workplace experience is a lot easier when you don’t have to do everything yourself, manually.

How To Avoid Remote Employees Feeling Left Out & Becoming Second Class Citizens

Hybrid working promises to be a panacea for organizations planning their post-pandemic workplace. Agile and adaptable, it offers the perks of remote working without losing the in-person collaboration, connection and relationship building that a team thrives on. But it comes with a health warning. Without an inclusive culture, you risk sleepwalking into an unequal work environment where those who spend more time in the office enjoy extra benefits over remote employees.

Office employees vs remote employees

Us humans are social creatures. We’ve evolved to live in groups and we thrive off social interaction. From a night on the town with friends to small talk with the supermarket cashier, human connection is critical to our mental health and wellbeing.

It’s natural that we develop stronger bonds with people we’re physically with. Virtual communication fulfils the need to some extent, but it’s not the real deal. It’s harder to pick up on non-verbal cues, easier to get distracted and group dynamics can be different.

In a remote-first culture, employees stand to miss out on friendships and working relationships when compared to a workplace culture dominated by the office. Indeed, in our survey of  1,500 US and UK office workers, over 55% said chance encounters and spontaneous conversations with colleagues were one of the best things about the office experience. Working remotely, people will find it harder to build trust and emotional bonds with co-workers, because they don’t get as much face-to-face time with them. This can impact their workplace wellbeing, job satisfaction, and career prospects. From a business point of view, it can lead to a dip in productivity, engagement and loyalty. The challenge for employers is to balance the overall experience employees get, regardless of whether they’re in the office or remote.

6 steps to improve remote employee wellbeing

With some simple steps you can make sure remote staff don’t end up feeling like second class citizens. It comes down to awareness and making sure the leaders and managers who set the workplace culture understand potential issues and how they can avoid them.

In our hybrid working research, less than half of those surveyed had been offered guidance or support around flexible and hybrid working – so by putting in place some of these steps you’ll already be ahead of the majority.

1. Make your hybrid meetings inclusive

Hybrid meetings include remote and in-person attendees. But if in-person attendees are late because they were making coffee together, or are indulging in off-camera conversations, remote attendees can feel excluded.

Build in time at each meeting for small talk. It might seem trivial, but sharing stories about the weekend or the weather in different parts of the country will help cement interpersonal relationships between employees – a foundation for a high-functioning company.

Encourage an equal footing for all at the meeting by giving everybody a turn to speak on each point and discourage in-person attendees from talking amongst themselves. Use a virtual whiteboard or Post-it platform such as Miro so that everybody gets to contribute to idea generation.

Make sure technology is tested and working beforehand, and that the meeting starts promptly. A remote attendee can be left in limbo if a meeting doesn’t begin at the scheduled time or the tech doesn’t work.

With more of a focus on hybrid meetings, innovation in meeting room technology is blossoming right now. Telepresence tech aims to simulate the effect of remote attendees being in the same room. Large touchscreens and top quality cameras and microphones help bring virtual attendees to life. Google’s campfire meeting spaces use this type of innovation.

Finally, share the meeting agenda, details of decisions to be taken and other important papers or presentations well ahead of the meeting. This makes sure everybody feels in the loop, regardless of where they’re working.

2. Use the same communication platforms

Make inclusive communication a principle of your company culture and an integral part of your hybrid working model.

Encourage everyone to use the same communications platforms – even if they’re in the same office. That way, information is shared equally and remote workers don’t miss out on office conversations and updates. When leaders need to deliver a big announcement, make sure it’s done using a channel open to everyone.

3. Use remote messaging tools

Remote messaging tools help reduce the isolation that remote employees can feel. Less formal than email, they’re a great substitute for office chat. You might even find they’re better for cross-team bonding than being in the office, because it’s easy for people across different departments to connect.

Set up different groups or channels – some with a work focus, and others purely for socialising. How about a virtual coffee break channel, or a channel for people to share pictures of their pets?

4. Hold regular 1-2-1 meetings

Remote-first employees won’t benefit from seeing their manager every day. While that might be music to some people’s ears, there’s a risk they could become detached from the day-to-day company culture. Niggles won’t get dealt with and might snowball needlessly.

Some people won’t feel comfortable speaking up in front of everyone on a group call, so making sure everybody has regular 1-2-1 meetings ensures that all voices get heard

5. Talk to your employees

Remote working will suit some employees to a tee, others not so. There’s a big difference between having a garden office with superfast broadband to sharing a kitchen table and Wi-Fi connection with four other flatmates.

Job seniority plays a role too. When you’re starting out you want to establish yourself and start building a reputation, you want to make friends, and you’ll probably look forward to Friday night drinks more than older staff who have families to get back to. Remote working can hit younger employees harder in the pocket too, with a reported 71 % of 18–29-year-old office workers stating that it has cost more than they expected.

And let’s not forget the motherhood penalty, potentially exacerbated by the pressure to perform at work while simultaneously caring for children at home. It’s therefore important to recognise that remote working will impact employees in different ways. Ask each of your team what their needs are around hybrid working and what you can do to help them – from increased 1-2-1 communication to regular social events that get everybody together in person.

We’ve published an employee survey tool kit to help you ask the right questions and understand what’s needed from you to create a happy and productive hybrid working culture.

6. Promote hybrid collaboration

Just because people aren’t in the office all week doesn’t mean collaboration can’t happen, it just needs to be managed more carefully.

Document and share your organization’s expectations around in-person collaboration. If you work to a regular cadence and expect all staff to come in for a meeting once per month, make sure everybody is aware.

Be clear on how communication channels and collaboration tools are used too. Remote employees will rely more heavily on these tools, so it’s important everybody buys into them and uses them in a consistent way.

Virtual planning tools such as Asana and Monday.com ensure all employees have access to the same information and can communicate updates from wherever they are. They also facilitate asynchronous collaboration, where employees can work together on a task at different times and keep each other updated on progress.

And a predictable information-sharing cadence helps as well. Knowing that a project update happens every Monday and Thursday morning provides a useful framework for remote-first employees to work around.

Create a company culture that considers all employee needs

A happy and engaged workforce is essential for an organization to perform well, retain its staff and attract new talent. As we move to hybrid working, it’s not just office space that needs to adapt. A company culture that’s inclusive, has an emphasis on communication, and takes into account the different needs across its employees will be vital in ensuring that remote employees don’t end up feeling left out in the cold.

The Complete Guide to Office Lingo Post-2020

Social distancing, shutdown order, household bubbles. The pandemic has introduced a host of words and phrases you probably hadn’t heard of pre-2020. It’s changed the way we speak about the workplace too. From hybrid working to desk hoteling, there’s a whole new vocabulary you need to get to grips with as the world returns to the office and adjusts to a new normal.

Desk hoteling

Internet searches for ‘desk hoteling’ rose by 657% in 12 months. But what does it mean?

Just as for a real hotel, desk hoteling means booking ahead. But rather than a bed, employees book a desk in the office for a defined period of time, and check in when they arrive. Alas, unlike a real hotel you don’t get a buffet breakfast, mini bar or Egyptian cotton sheets.

Desk hoteling brings many benefits. From an employee perspective, you can choose when you work and who you sit with so you can make the most of your time in the workplace. From an organization’s point of view, check-in and booking data allows you to plan your workspaces based on actual and forecast usage. You can create an office that has just the right balance between collaborative and quiet space, and you can ensure desks are clean and ready for use when they’re needed.

It goes a long way to allaying common concerns around hot desking – from health and safety to not being able to find a spot to sit at. Desk hoteling is made possible through desk booking software such as Kadence. The software lets employees book a desk and check in through an intuitive app, and gives organizations a dashboard of usage data to help inform planning.

Asynchronous communication

Before the pandemic, most white-collar workers sat in the same place 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, and the . the back and forth of communication was relatively synchronized.

But with people working remotely, that’s all changed. Expectations around communication have shifted, and increasingly it happens through online tools, such as Slack, MS Teams, Google Docs or good old-fashioned email. People’s working hours are also more flexible; if you like to start early or you need to pop out for the school run mid-afternoon, that’s often okay.

All this points to asynchronous communication, where it’s not necessary for both people in a conversation to be “present” at the same time. You send a message but accept it might not be read and replied to until later.

You’ll no doubt be used to it on some level already, but post-pandemic the balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication has tipped heavily towards the latter.

Hybrid working

The pandemic has shown just how productive we can be working away from the office. No longer is the boss suspicious of anyone choosing to WFH. The productivity, wellbeing and financial benefits are clear for all to see.

With hybrid working, employees divide their working week between their home (or other remote location) and the office. For some, that might mean set days at home and set days in the office. For others, it might be more flexible, only coming in when there’s a team meeting happening, or if they want some peace and quiet away from a busy house-share or kids at home.

It’s a rare gem where the best of both worlds really is achievable. You get the benefits of home working without losing out on the benefits of office working.

Hybrid meetings

Collaboration, idea generation and decision-making. Meetings are an essential component of a high-functioning organization, and they’re going hybrid too. With a workforce spread across different locations, hybrid meetings include both remote and in-person attendees. They’re a great way to ensure business continuity doesn’t suffer and hybrid collaboration is possible when you’ve got some of your team coming into the office and some working remotely.


In a remote first organization, working away from the corporate office is the preferred option. The organization still provides a central workplace for occasions when employees need or want to work from the office. It’s a type of hybrid working, with the emphasis on working remotely. 

Remote working

Remote working has become the new normal. It simply means working away from your organization’s usual workplace. Cloud-based software, always-on Wi Fi and video conferencing have made it all possible. Can you imagine if the pandemic had hit before the internet?

Contact Tracing

As we go back to the office amid potential new waves of the virus, contact tracing is a feature many organizations are factoring in. Desk booking and check-in software make it easy. You have data that shows you exactly who has sat at each desk, and at what times.

Occupancy data

Data is a key component of an effective hybrid workplace. Because individual employees don’t have their own desk, greater responsibility falls to the office manager or workspace planner to create an environment that people enjoy being in and is conducive to good work.

Occupancy data tells you how a space is used by your employees. You can observe trends over time and – if you have desk booking software – look at usage forecasts. With data at your fingertips you can create a workplace that’s perfectly in tune with your people’s needs.

Occupancy sensors

Occupancy sensors can tell you how many people are using a room, neighborhood or floor. They detect movement and count the number of people in a space. Unlike desk booking software, they can’t give you hyperlocal data on how each desk is used or provide usage forecasts.

Office Neighborhoods 

A hybrid workplace using desk hoteling gives office managers and space planners the flexibility to create spaces attuned to employees’ needs – office neighborhoods are a way of organizing your office to ensure those needs are fulfilled. A neighborhood is a dedicated area where communities of employees sit – typically between 30 to 60 people – who require similar amenities or need to work closely together. Neighborhoods can be based around a variety of needs, including job function, project or activity (for example, some tasks might require quiet, calm space, others might demand more collaborative space).


If you ever dreamt of muting a co-worker, the pandemic made it a real-life possibility. “You’re on mute” became the workplace meme of 2020 – as we all watched colleagues mouthing silently and then scrabbling for their mouse to unmute – and it’s not going away anytime soon.

Water cooler chat

One of the casualties of the pandemic, the water cooler chat describes those unplanned, serendipitous encounters you’d enjoy with colleagues throughout the working day. The weather, the weekend or the family. Whatever the topic, they can brighten up a grey day, establish friendships and break down barriers. 

For many workers, they’re one of the main reasons they favor a mix of home and office working.In a recent survey of 1500 business professionals we carried out, 55% described them as one of the best things about office work.

The pandemic has turned our view of the traditional office on its head. The future centres around a hybrid model with employees booking desks and rooms as and when they need them, rather than sitting in the same cubicle for five days a week. Get comfortable with the vocabulary that describes this new culture so you can start planning the way forward for your organization.