What Is Hybrid-Remote?

Hybrid-remote work is an approach where employees work partly remotely and partly in the office. It can provide flexibility and better work-life balance for workers, which can lead to higher employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

Success in hybrid-remote models needs robust technology and security ecosystems. Cisco Hybrid Work can support employees’ secure access to what they need and give employers the tools and visibility to tackle, predict, and/or protect against obstacles.


What’s the difference between hybrid-remote and remote work?

In hybrid-remote models employees work partly remotely and partly in one or more dedicated offices. In all-remote work, no one is expected to work from the office and each employee individually chooses where to work. Remote work could also be called ‘telecommuting’, ‘work from home’ or ‘virtual office work’.

Because individuals choose where and how they work, remote working can look different for each person. Typically, remote workers who work at home have a dedicated workspace with high-quality video conferencing software and hardware, and will have set expectations and guidelines for their schedule. They might also work from a café or choose to rent a co-working space.

It's often easier for larger, established companies to implement hybrid-remote models rather than switching to all-remote working as they can use their existing infrastructure instead of having to create a fully remote system from scratch.

What is a hybrid-remote work model?

There are three main types of hybrid-remote work models, all of which support a blend of in-office and remote workers.

  • Flexible hybrid-remote model

    Employees can change their location and working hours based on their workload and priorities. For example, they might choose to go into the office to have a collaborative meeting or stay at home to carry out deep-focus work.

    It offers workers more freedom and flexibility and increases loyalty and job satisfaction due to increased trust. It could also help expand the talent pool for employers while helping them save on office rental or employee travel costs. However, without open communication, it can make it more difficult for employees to find a suitable time or day to arrange in-person meetings.

  • Fixed hybrid-remote model

    The employer sets the days and times that employees are allowed to work remotely or must be in the office. Businesses may choose specific days for each department or team, or allow people to choose based on a set number of days each week.

    Having people come in on set days makes it easier to arrange in-person meetings ahead of time and allows businesses to easily forecast office capacity. The lack of individual choice could mean employees are less productive, particularly if they’re often interrupted in the office when they need to focus on getting tasks done.

  • Office-first or remote-first hybrid-remote model

    In office-first models, employees are expected to be in the office the majority of the week, but can choose to work remotely the rest of the time. In a remote-first model, the opposite is true.

    In some remote-first models, employees may only need to go into the office for specific team building, collaboration, or training sessions. And some organisations may not have a dedicated office space, and instead expect teams to arrange meetings in co-working spaces.

    Both options allow flexibility and individual choice, so workers can choose to work wherever they’re most productive. But this can also lead to a lack of visibility as to who’s in the office, and when, making it harder to arrange in-person meetings.

    Office-first models could reduce productivity for employees who live far away from the office while remote-first models could lead to workers feeling isolated, particularly if virtual meetings aren’t taking place regularly.

What are the benefits and advantages of hybrid-remote work?

If your business is switching to a hybrid-remote model, you and your employees could enjoy several benefits and advantages.

  • Increased productivity

    Employees are able to choose the best place to work depending on what they need to get done, and can use their time more efficiently.

  • Increased job satisfaction

    With a greater work-life balance, employees are happier in their roles, have improved personal wellbeing, and may stay with the company longer.

  • Increased collaboration

    When in the office, employees make more of an effort to coordinate work, collaborate with teammates and build deeper relationships with their coworkers.

  • Increased opportunities

    Employees find that they may be able to pursue more development opportunities thanks to flexible working hours, and that they receive (and provide) more internal recognition and feedback.

How can hybrid-remote work support sustainability?

If sustainability is an important goal for your business, switching to a hybrid-remote work model can help.

With fewer employees commuting to the office, and less off-site travel for meetings, it could mean a reduction in carbon emissions from employee travel. The same potential benefits can be seen if employees choose to walk or cycle to a nearby co-working space rather than take a car, bus, or train into the office.

And, as people come and go in the office, you could optimise energy use in the building based on capacity. Cisco’s PENN 1, New York is an example of how a hybrid-remote workplace can support both employee well-being and reduce energy consumption. You could use insights about people’s behaviour to adjust environmental conditions (e.g., less air conditioning when the office is empty) and create seamless hybrid-remote working using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and better wired or wireless digital experiences, which can help reduce the carbon footprint of your business.

Switching to hybrid-remote working could also help businesses in adopting IT practices supporting sustainability, reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency. This could include implementing solutions supporting energy-savings based on when the office is occupied, reducing CPU usage, and making hardware more efficient.

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