The difference between hybrid and flexible working

hybrid working

Hybrid working and flexible working are two terms we’ve heard a lot in the past few years. Businesses have had to rethink their working practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to some deciding to introduce flexible working and, more specifically, hybrid working models to their workplace.

And it’s not just because of the pandemic – the demand for flexibility from employees has exploded, with a recent CIPD report suggesting that among employees who have no access to flexible working, about 80% would like it.

When it comes to hybrid working vs. flexible working, however, there’s some key differences businesses should be aware of.


What is hybrid working?

Hybrid working, or agile working as it’s sometimes known, describes when staff spend some of their working week at home and some in the workplace.

Hybrid working has grown in popularity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many employees working from home who’ve been solely office-based in the past. Most of the hybrid working models we see these days have come about because of necessity and to meet the requirements put in place by the government. But it’s likely that the hybrid working model will be here to stay for many businesses.

The hybrid working model you might choose to introduce to your organisation would depend on the needs of your business and employees. For some businesses, the culture of the business and the need for engagement and collaborative working will affect which hybrid working model will work best. For other businesses, office space may be a consideration – particularly as many businesses have decided to reduce their office space as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you choose to introduce a hybrid working model to your business – or if you already have one in place – it’s important that you put a hybrid working policy in place. This will outline things such as:

  • the hours of work
  • the place of work
  • the requirement to attend the workplace
  • equipment and workstations
  • Health & Safety


What are the benefits of hybrid working?

A hybrid working arrangement can:

  • make it easier to deal with any social distancing measures the government puts in place – or any other Health & Safety measures you choose to put in place
  • save time and money for employees with less commuting time to the office
  • make employees who feel nervous about COVID-19 feel more comfortable due to less interaction with colleagues
  • give employees with caring responsibilities more flexibility
  • attract a more diverse workforce
  • more collaboration if everyone is available on one IT platform

All of the above can lead to a workforce that feels happier and more content.


What is flexible working?

Flexible working is a term used to describe an amended working pattern that an employee has requested. Common types of flexible working include:

  • compressed hours
  • part-time work
  • working from home

At the moment, someone needs to have at least 26 weeks of continuous service with an employer to make a flexible working request (but the government are looking to make it a day-one right). These flexible working requests could be to change their working hours, or when they’re required to work, or where they work.

You as an employer can either agree the request for flexible working arrangements and reflect the changes in the employee’s contract, or you could reject it for one of eight specific statutory reasons. You also must respond to a request to work flexibly within a set period of time. If a request hasn’t been dealt with appropriately, then there may be a risk of an employment tribunal claim.


What are the benefits of flexible working?

Flexible working can bring a range of benefits for both businesses and individuals, including:

  • giving employees more freedom when it comes to the way they work
  • supporting a better work-life balance
  • accommodating those with caring responsibilities
  • helping avoid burnout and presenteeism
  • boosting business productivity
  • increasing employee morale
  • improving recruitment and retention
  • saving on office space
  • supporting inclusivity

Flexible working: your responsibilities

Everything you need to know about your responsibilities as an employer when it comes to flexible working requests.

Download the guide

Hybrid working vs flexible working: What are the key differences?

Essentially the main differences between hybrid and flexible working are:

  • Hybrid working only refers to flexibility with the place of work – i.e., hybrid workers work partly from an office and partly from home.
  • In contrast, flexible working covers working hours, the place of work, the time the employee is required to work, and much more.
  • An employee has a statutory right to request flexible working – and within that request, an employee can ask for flexibility with their place of work, which is what is reflected in a hybrid working model.


Can employees be both hybrid and flexible?

Hybrid working is a form of flexible working and even after an employer has set out the hybrid working arrangements, an employee is able to make a formal flexible working request under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The timing of a flexible working request will be important. For example, if your business already has plans in place to formalise any hybrid working arrangement, it would be handy for the employee making the request to understand if hybrid working would cover their needs.


How to support your hybrid and flexible workers

If your business is considering introducing hybrid working, it’s really important to decide on the requirements and boundaries of this working arrangement. You may need to make reasonable adjustments for your employees, including:

  • Implementing remote working software
  • Providing work equipment to allow for a hybrid workforce
  • Regularly communicating with remote workers

If your business decides to go ahead with hybrid working arrangements, it’s important that you have a written hybrid working policy in place. It would also be a good idea to have a flexible working policy, so an employee is aware of who is able to make a flexible working request and the timescales involved once a request is submitted.


Master hybrid and flexible working with Citation

If you think your workplace could benefit from hybrid or flexible working, that’s great! But you need to make sure you’re doing everything by the book, otherwise you could end up with dissatisfied employees, disrupted business operations, and even tribunal claims.

Our team can support you with all aspects of flexible working, including writing compliant policies, managing flexible working requests, and everything in between. If you’re already a client of ours, simply call 0345 844 4848 to speak to our experts today.

If you’re not already a client, why not start a conversation with us today? When you work with Citation’s HR and Employment Law experts, you’ll have 24/7 access to our expert advice, support tailored to your business, access to our online compliance platform, and much more.

Call 0345 844 1111 to find out more, or alternatively you can email us at

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