Flybrid – flexible or hybrid work?

Post-pandemic, we’re all trying to find our new ‘normal’ and the definitions of ‘flexible work’ and ‘hybrid work’ are shifting.

Flexible work.  What does that really mean now? 

It’s no longer just about being able to flex start and finish times to fit in with uni timetables or school pick-ups.  The push for a 4-day week is re-emerging and for a lot of people, pandemic or life-changing events are putting into perspective the importance of a work-life balance.  The ideal flexible work scenario that helps you to achieve that work-life balance might be very different from the person next to you.

And now there’s a bit of tension brewing, with some companies pushing for staff to be back in the office 5 days a week.

 But will people give up the ‘hybrid’ working model so easily? 

And for some employers, will local skills shortages shape ‘hybrid’ work models by necessity rather than choice?

We had a chat in our team about factors that are becoming more ‘flexible’ in today’s world of work and the role these play in a ‘hybrid’ work model.  Here’s what we came up with: 

  • Days and hours of work
  • Location of work
  • Type of work
  • Trust and Leadership
  • Systems, Processes and Rhythm

And because we can, we also had a chat with ChatGPT about the difference between ‘flexible work’ and ‘hybrid work’.  Here’s what the AI’ had to say:

While both flexible work and hybrid work arrangements offer increased flexibility for employees, the main difference between them is in the degree of remote work involved.

Flexible work typically allows employees to have greater control over when, where, and how they work, but does not necessarily involve a structured split between remote work and in-person work. Flexible work arrangements can include working from home or other remote locations, working part-time or on a compressed workweek schedule, job sharing, or having flexible start and end times.

In contrast, hybrid work specifically combines elements of both remote work and in-person work in a flexible way. This means that employees have the flexibility to work remotely some of the time and come into the office or other designated workspaces for the rest of the time. Hybrid work can take many different forms, depending on the needs of the organization and the preferences of employees.

ChatGPT, ‘the AI’

Days and hours of work

  • Our national definition of the standard working week might be on the brink of change
  • There are permanent work options beyond full time or set part-time days/hours
  • Working across national and global time zones creates a need for variable working hours

The definition of a working week.  It’s hard to believe that it was only 75 years ago that Australian workers nationally were granted approval for a 40-hour 5 day working week.   In the 1920’s, 8 hours a day, six days a week was considered a conservative norm.  So this would have seemed like flexible working conditions compared to the previous generation, when a working week looked like 14 hours a day for six days in a row!  Today, support for a 4 day working week is growing, with organisations across at least seven countries and many organisations here in Australia, running trials to understand if the potential benefits to well-being and productivity can outweigh the challenges.

Wind back only 4 years ago, the concept of a part-time work was largely considered the realm of students or parents returning to the workforce.  But 9 day fortnights, short days, or alternate weeks are becoming a more common flexible work requests to help people accommodate family commitments like childcare hours and carer duties and medical treatment plans.  Others actively seek flexible work plan to allow time for volunteering or personal and professional development activities.

Time zones.  Working and interacting with people in different time zones both within Australia and globally, compromises the concept of 8 hours a day fitting in between 9am and 6pm.  Spreading the 8 working hours across a 16 hour window in a work from home/work from office arrangement can make the lines between home-life and work-life tricky to separate.    In other cases, we see people in Australia working a night shift (either in office or from home) to provide daytime services to international organisations. 

Location of Work

  • Traveling for work 
  • Working from home or anywhere
  • Local skills shortages driving hybrid work models

A big shift for corporate Australia 30 years or so ago was the increasing technical capability for staff to ‘work from home’,  usually by ‘dialing in’ from your home PC (or laptop) using a modem and VPN.   Working from home became a thing for a lot of people in corporate roles as the work/life balance was compromised by multiple time-zones, on-call support and IT project implementations.  Laptop sizes finally became ‘laptop size’ and working away from the office became more practical as part of traveling for work or working from another office (or from the airport en route between offices).  The concept of remote working shifted the context of ‘traveling for work’ towards ‘working predominately from a location that is not the main office’.  This made it more feasible for employers to consider filling roles with candidates not just from the same town, but also from other states or countries.    

Post pandemic, more people have had the opportunity to WFH where this may never have been an option in the past.  This really was a turning point for a lot of organisations and institutions, where WFH would still be an idea only, not yet practiced.

And people are loving the efficiency of less time spent on the daily commute and the financial benefit as less money is spent on fuel, parking or public transport.  There is also an opportunity to get some real errands done over lunch time e.g. grocery shopping, appointments, making a dent in the mountain of washing or fitting in a daily exercise routine.

Meanwhile, businesses are trying to work out all.of.the.things.  What should the new WFH policy look like?

Can staff really be trusted to work without someone watching them? What’s the budget justification for leasing office space that won’t ever be fully utilised? How do we keep people motivated and engaged if we can’t do the office morning tea?

What changes are needed to our operating systems, process and behaviours to adapt to this new way of working and is this really a feasible model for the long run?

Type of Work

  • Roles that rely on in-person interactions or physical activities
  • Re-defining roles to suit the demand for flexible work options

There are still so many roles and types of work that don’t really work under flexible or hybrid working arrangements.  For retail, hospitality, healthcare and service industries, the in-person interaction and hands-on activity is still a fundamental part of delivery for many roles.   Some of these traditional roles are evolving though as we are starting to see a shift in role-definition, unpacking the component that must be in-person vs the elements that could be handled in a different way and re-assembling these into new roles . E.g. Instant Scripts, telehealth, event management, online teaching, virtual assistants.  

There are many types of work that remain reliant on the physical activity or at least presence of human beings.  Organisations in this space should be considering how to apply broadest suite of flexible work conditions that can be offered outside of remote working to attract and retain people with valuable skill sets in these roles.

Trust and leadership

  • Leaders will need to develop practices and behaviours to maintain team connections
  • Individuals will need to develop working from home best practices

For many leaders, the rapid shift to flexible working arrangements has been confronting. 

Can people be trusted to work without direct supervision? Can our business actually be done without everyone in the same office at the same time? How does a leader make sure work gets done if one can’t just walk on over to a team member to ‘see’ where they are up to? 

This challenges leaders to tap into practices and behaviours that create deeper connections with team members.  This is going to be a significantly uncomfortable experience for many leaders and some may not recognise the need for change in their own leadership style.

Feeling ‘trusted’ by a leader to get on with doing a good job while working from home also challenges the behaviour of the individual.   Beyond the bucks, most people show up to work to do a good job and feel some sense of accomplishment. 

For most people, an enjoyable day is not made by working 8 hours to deliver sub-standard outputs.   So individuals will be conscious of demonstrating that they’ve worked the required hours and produced work that is of the expected standard, in an effort to demonstrate that WFH should remain a flexible work option.

Systems, Processes and Rhythm

  • Equipment or access required to help the transition from a physical workspace to working from anywhere
  • Make sure business processes are sustainable regardless of the workspace
  • Check that your operating rhythm still works with the hybrid work model

As the ways of being at work are evolving, so too are the ways in which we do our work.

Transitioning from a physical workspace to working from anywhere means we need to be able to our office workspace from wherever it is we are working.  For many organisations, this means a shift to online workspaces, hosted in the cloud and in conjunction with mobile phone (for MFA and internet), internet and a laptop or desktop if at home. 

A great online workspace can help to keep everyone in sync with activity is happening from file changes, team chats and live comments in files and folders.    The online workspace should be easy to navigate, offer video, chat, calendar, task and email features and also the ability to work offline.

When we talk about systems, we don’t just mean devices and technology.  Systems also means business processes.   As flexible or hybrid work models are adopted, you’ll find that some processes might need to be redesigned to reflect changed roles or new business practices that come into play when working in the online environment.  Ideally, business processes should be written to articulate how to get the job done, regardless of what platform is being used to do the work.

Then once business processes are outlined, they’ll need to be saved somewhere that is easy for teams to access and find.  This will make training new starters significantly easier by providing material for self-paced learning in the first few weeks and by reducing the amount of time other team members need to spend explaining how to do things.   In a hybrid working model this become even more important – new starters will feel completely lost if there is no one to ask and no way to easily find  content online for self-help.

An operating rhythm creates a routine that becomes known and familiar.   Formal routines like weekly team meetings will need to be revised to make sure everyone can attend either in person or that the meeting room can accommodate both in person and online attendees. 

And while it may seem easier to just forget about the informal routines like a morning coffee catch up or walk around the block for a 1:1, finding a way to transition these routines to the new way of work will be a big help in preserving those team connections.

So what does this mean for you as an employer?

  • Consider how flexible work practices could be adopted across different roles in your team
  • Think about how flexible work options could help you to attract and retain talent
  • Reflect on how you practice trust and engagement with your team when they are working remotely and whether your current leadership style is really helping you to balance business outcomes and employee needs
  • Review your systems and processes to make sure you’re providing the right platforms for great work to be done

And for you as an employee?

  • Think about what flexible work means for you
  • Consider if the work you do can fit a flexible work model
  • Hone your ‘work from home’ practices
  • Let your manager know if your existing online workspaces are not helping you to get your job done

We’d love to hear from you – what do flexible work arrangements look like for you and your teams?  What types of roles are not adaptable to remote working and do you think there will be a time when this changes?

3 ways that a good online workspace helps you to get your job done

But first – what is an online workspace?

An online workspace is a virtual environment where your teams can work together to get their job done, without physically being in the same place. At a minimum, your online workspace should have features like:

  • Calendar and Email
  • Video calling and Chat messaging
  • File sync and share with co-authoring
  • Assignable Tasks
  • Secure access from any device

We talk more about what Australian teams should look for in an online workspace over here.

Outside of the fairly standard feature set that most online workspaces offer, it’s the minute-to-minute usability of the workspace that makes a big difference to how easy it is to get your job done.

Here are the 3 ways that we think a good online workspace should help:

1. Less Clicks

This is our highest on our watch list. You want your digital workspace to help you reduce the number of clicks you need to make in order to navigate around the workspace to get your job done.

Less. Clicks.

We experience ‘clicks’ in two ways, when working within the specific app (e.g. creating or editing a meeting request or task, sharing or commenting on files, interacting in a video call) and also when navigating between different parts of the online workspace itself (e.g. moving between calendar, chat, tasks, planners, files)

When working within the specific app.

The transition to web apps in general creates a remarkable increase in the number of clicks required to get the same job done. You’ll notice this when navigating menus and fields to fill in online forms for internet banking or rego renewal for example. But these are web pages you’re interacting with every now and then. When your working online, the extra clicks become REALLY noticeable. There are a couple of frequent daily tasks that we notice have a lot more clicks compared to other online workspaces to deskonline.

File sharing. When we select a menu item that says ‘copy link’ or ‘share’, we don’t want to then have to click another button to actually…..copy the link or share.

Calendar items/meeting invites We all spend a lot of time in and out of our calendars. The number of fields or forms (clicks!) needed to create and update calendar items or meeting invites in one of the more commonly used online workspaces drives us mad! In, you are only ever ONE CLICK away from creating or editing a calendar item, either from within calendar app or from your dashboard.

But what about when navigating between different parts of the online workspace?

Some teams choose to use a collection of small (often free) cloud apps that each meet a specific need, bringing them together to create their online workspace. Other teams teams choose a specific online workspace provider and then adjust their needs to fit whatever the provider does or does not offer.

In both scenarios, this often ends up looking like a stack of additional cloud apps brought into use, often with overlapping features. This means there can be multiple ways to do the same thing. Which is great, until we realise that some features/options are not available in one of those ways of doing.

This creates a big challenge in maintaining a repeatable, sustainable workflow to support your teams in competing daily tasks. A repeatable, sustainable workflow is critical to ensuring delivery of consistent outcomes at a benchmark level of quality in the required time frames. And, if you don’t have this outlined somewhere, either in business processes or managed through apps (like Deck or our very own custom app ‘DO’), training new staff to be proficient is time consuming for existing team members and takes a lot longer than you need it to.

Additionally, the challenge grows as the team grows – it snowballs really and happens pretty quickly. How do you make sure everyone is referring to the right information when there are multiple places where that information can exist? This starts to look like a lot of work instructions and notes to make sure every team member is using the online workspace in a consistent way. It’s fine when there’s only a few people, but as the team grows, it becomes harder to corral individual work practices into a common practice that is scalable.

We think stands out from the crowd here with easy navigation to all apps all the time (apps ribbon at top of the window is always visible) and this coupled with apps like ‘Notes’, ‘Deck, ‘Tasks’, and ‘Talk’ means less clicks to get the daily tasks done. We find it really helpful that ‘Tasks’ and ‘Deck’ (kanban boards) are integrated with ‘Calendar’ and ‘Talk’ meaning, you guessed it…less clicks to create, assign and manage completion of work across teams and individuals.

2. Secure File Sharing with External Users

Second on our watch list is the ability to easily and securely share files (or folders, or folder structures 😲) with external users and with a range of permission options.  Emailing sensitive information is risky and emailing large files can be unpredictable.  File sharing is the answer but some platforms behave very differently for internal vs external file sharing.  Look for a platform that has an easy to use external file share capability along with end-to-end encryption and the ability to configure external share permissions.  We love from this point of view because it allows files, folders AND folder structures to be externally shared with password and expiration, downloads hidden, uploads only or read only access.  It also provides permissions that allow external users to make changes based on the permissions you set. Also a small thing but something that you’ll appreciate if you are sharing lots of links internally or externally – copies the link to cache once you click the ‘file share’ link.  MS Teams will have you click that ‘copy link’ button again after clicking the ‘share’ icon.  Refer our point 1 – LESS CLICKS!

3. Meet you where you are – make it easy to be both an individual and a team

Our third must have for a digital workspace is the ability for the workspace to ‘meet you where you are’.

By this we mean, if you’re working on an individual activity not related to a project or team, you need to be able to access this work area as efficiently as if you were working on a project or team activity. 

You need to be able to fluently switch between team and individual work areas.  We love that offers the ability to work in a primary position from multiple apps, always mindful of access to both individual, project and team work areas. 

So how does your current online workspace stack up?

As you’re doing what you do over the next few days, have a think about how your current online workspace is helping you with:

less clicks

secure file sharing

operating as an individual and within your team

And if your current online workspace is not being helpful, get in contact with us, we’d love to show you one that is!

What Australian teams should look for in an online workspace

An online workspace is a virtual environment where your teams can work together to get their job done, without physically being in the same place. At a minimum, your online workspace should have features like:

  • Calendar and Email
  • Video calling and Chat messaging
  • File sync and share with co-authoring
  • Assignable Tasks
  • Secure access from any device

We talk here about the 3 ways that a good online workspace should help you get your job done.

But where is the data stored? Many online workspaces will load balance where data is stored across a range of global data centres, meaning it’s often unclear exactly where your data is being stored and how it may be accessed.

For Australian teams, in addition to all the good things we’ve talked about above, your online workspace should also offer on-shore data storage options. e.g. in Australian based data centres (like AWS or NextDC) or on infrastructure that you manage on your own premise. was created to offer Australian Businesses and individuals an online workspace with on-shore data storage options. We chose Nextcloud as the platform to build, an Australian based alternative to Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, Office 365 and all of the other cloud-based workspaces that don’t offer on-shore storage options.

There are two ways that can help you to transition to an easy to navigate online workspace with onshore data storage:

  1. we can work with your IT team to help you set up your own self-hosted Nextcloud online workspace; or
  2. we can do it for you and set you up with your own branded online workspace in

Either way, we’d love to help! You can get in contact with us at or pop us a message on LinkedIn

Remote working now?

If you need some help finding the remote working collaboration tool that works for you, we’d love to introduce you to to see if it is the right fit for your business.

We’re a little biased, but we think is a neat alternative to the big guys.

Get on with your business from wherever you and your team are 👉

💻 Create, share and update your documents real time from any device with internet connection (laptop, pc, tablet, smartphone)

📲 Keep your team conversations going with Talk (chat + video calls + screen sharing)

💻 View team Activities to help you all stay up to date with what’s going on

📲 Explore a suite of pretty cool collaboration tools (Kanban, Dashboard Charts, Calendar, Project Groups + more) is an Australian AWS hosted Nextcloud shared environment, utilising end-to-end encryption to securely segregate your data from everyone else’s.