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structured vs. unstructured hybrid work policies


As workers continue to demand flexibility, more businesses are embracing hybrid work and facing a critical decision: what type of hybrid work policy should they implement in their workplace? As a company that has been at the forefront of hybrid work for years, Owl Labs recognizes the importance of striking the right balance between all types of hybrid work approaches. In this blog post, we explore the pros and cons of the two primary types of hybrid work policies – structured and unstructured –  to help organizations make an informed choice that aligns with their company’s unique needs.

Structured hybrid work policies set specific guidelines for when employees must be in the office. These policies offer a sense of predictability and a more traditional work structure. Here’s what makes them a valuable choice:

  • Enhanced collaboration: Structured policies ensure that teams physically come together on designated days, fostering better in-person collaboration.
  • Predictable schedules: Employees know well in advance when they need to be in the office, enabling better time management.
  • Cohesive culture: Consistent office attendance helps maintain a strong corporate culture and a sense of belonging among employees.

However, the structured approach does have its drawbacks. While it does allow employees to work remotely some of the time, they have less individual flexibility than an unstructured approach. 

Unstructured hybrid work policies give employees the freedom to choose when to come into the office. This approach emphasizes flexibility and autonomy, which provides benefits like:

  • Enhanced work-life balance: Employees can better balance their work and personal lives by choosing office days that suit them.
  • Productivity: A flexible schedule can lead to higher productivity as employees can work when they’re most effective.
  • Attracting talent: Offering flexibility can be a powerful magnet for top talent, as it aligns with the changing expectations of the workforce

One of the major drawbacks of an unstructured approach is that employees may not find themselves in the office at the same time as their coworkers. The main benefits of in-office work come from building social capital and community by working together. If people aren’t on the same schedule, they won’t be able to do that even if they are in the office. 

So, which is the better choice? The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. Successful organizations are the ones that find the right balance between structured and unstructured hybrid work policies by:

  • Embracing hybrid work technology: Utilize innovative tools like the Meeting Owl 3 + Owl Bar to bridge the gap between in-office and remote employees. The right tech ensures effective communication and collaboration, regardless of the policy you choose.
  • Listening to your team: Engage in open dialogues with your employees. Understand their preferences and needs, as these can vary greatly.
  • Flexibility within structure: Consider offering a structured policy with some flexibility, allowing employees to choose specific office days within a defined framework.
  • Regular review: Continuously assess and adapt your policy to accommodate the changing needs of your team.

In the ever-evolving world of work, the structured vs. unstructured debate is ongoing. At Owl Labs, we believe that the key is to leverage the strengths of each approach while focusing on seamless communication and collaboration, supported by innovative technology. By doing so, you can create a hybrid work policy that keeps your employees engaged and productive, ensuring your organization remains agile in the face of change.