Hybrid working is an organisational approach to managing remote work. This is where staff who can and want to, work some of their time in the office and some of the time at home. Agencies can also apply the guidance to circumstances where people work in a different city/region to the main location of their organisation or team.  

The guidance recognises that every agency will need to define hybrid working for itself, considering the different locations and types of work already in the agency. The following table is intended as a starting point for agencies to build on and recognises that agencies will approach this differently depending on their circumstances. 

Hybrid work is:

  • a type of flexible work and needs to be applied consistently with the flexible-by-default guidance
  • an organisation-wide approach to people working some of their time at home and some of their time in the office
  • able to be used for people working in a different city or region to their team’s main location. The work location could be the organisation’s premises, home, or another office location.

Hybrid work isn’t:

  • other kinds of flexible working as outlined in the flexible-by-default guidance
  • an entitlement — it is an agreement between the staff member and their employer and must work for the organisation, the team, and the individual
  • part of business continuity planning to manage disruptions which may remove the ability of staff to access their office location
  • staff permanently working outside of Aotearoa (see Appendix A: Working overseas).

This guidance aims to create consistency across the Public Service in how hybrid working is managed, but there is no expectation that hybrid working will be identical across agencies.  Agencies will need to determine the approach that best suits their work and workforce.   

Hybrid work is a type of flexible work

All employees in New Zealand have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements and all employers have a legal duty to consider that request and can only refuse on particular grounds. Section 69AAF of the Employment Relations Act 2000 sets out the grounds for refusal of request by employer.

Section 69AAF, Employment Relations Act 2000 — New Zealand Legislation 

Te Kawa Mataaho published the Flexible-Work-by-Default in 2020 as part of the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan and to support agencies to meet their legislative obligations. Hybrid work is a type of flexible work and needs to be managed consistently with the flexible-by-default guidance. It will help agencies develop proactive, consistent, and sustainable practices around hybrid working, within the broader context of their implementation of flexible working by default. 


The work comes first because the Public Service must deliver services to New Zealand

Many roles need to be done in a specific location, and/or kanohi ki te kanohi | face to face and won’t be suitable for hybrid work. 

The first priority of agencies is to ensure they continue to deliver their services. Agencies need to ensure that hybrid ways of working enhance, and don’t detract from, providing excellent customer service and outcomes. 

Hybrid is not available or suitable for everyone

The suitability of the work is the central determinant of whether a person can work in a hybrid way. Not all work is suitable, which means that many workers will not be able to access this kind of work flexibility. Some workers whose roles are suitable for hybrid working won’t want or be able to work from home and need the option to come into the office. 

Agencies need to continue to consider other types of flexibility for workers whose roles aren’t suited to hybrid. They should particularly take care to ensure that people who are new to the workforce are not disadvantaged. 

Part 3: What work needs to be done kanohi ki te kanohi/face to face? has more information on what types of work need to be done face to face.

Hybrid work can support inclusion and diversity

Hybrid working may provide more opportunities for disabled people by removing barriers to work.  It is important to note that this does not override the need to ensure workplaces are accessible for disabled people.  

Hybrid working supports gender equity by giving people of any gender more flexibility around caring for children and other dependents. 

It can also enable the employment of more staff in the regions.

Part 2: Factors to consider when designing a hybrid work environment has more information on how hybrid working supports inclusion and diversity.

Agencies need to take an organisation-wide approach to hybrid working

The IT infrastructure and good processes to support staff working away from the office are essential.

Part 4: Implementing hybrid working to ensure productivity has more information about this.

Agencies also need to provide working space for workers whose preference is to be in the office and for those whose home environments don’t support working from home. 

Where a person’s role is suitable for hybrid working, agencies and managers need to set clear expectations about what people will come into the office for, and how often. 

The way in which organisations will make agreements with individual staff will continue to be covered by their flexible working policies, established under the flexible by default guidance.  These arrangements should be regularly reviewed to ensure they remain fit for purpose. 

Well-functioning teams are the key to hybrid working success

Hybrid teams need to talk about and agree how they’ll work together.

Part 4: Implementing hybrid working to ensure productivity has more information about this.

Appendix B: Model Team Charter has a draft team charter.

A high-trust environment is essential to support hybrid working, and managers need to actively build trust in their teams. 

Individual arrangements can’t negatively impact other team members.

Factors to consider in managing hybrid working

Potential benefits of hybrid working

  • Staff save time and money otherwise spent on commuting
  • Organisations can attract and retain a diverse workforce
  • Greater staff engagement and wellbeing
  • Fewer distractions enabling increased focus
  • Reduced emissions from commuting
  • Greater regional and community connection when more employees work outside main centres

Things to manage

  • Hybrid working doesn’t work for all roles or people and that may create equity issues
  • Hybrid arrangements need to consider security and privacy to ensure that staff and information are kept secure and safe
  • Organisations need to support hybrid workers
  • Trust and clear expectations between managers and staff are essential
  • Boundaries between work and home need to be managed
  • Wellbeing, professional development and personnel impacts related to isolation need to be managed

There are a range of considerations that organisations need to take into account – some have the potential to be benefits, and others have the potential to be downsides.

Part 2: Factors to consider when designing a hybrid work environment has more detail.

Principles to guide implementation of hybrid working

The principles from the flexible-by-default guidance are the basis for making decisions about hybrid working. These are reproduced below, with some advice for agencies on how to apply these principles to hybrid working. 


Flexible-by-default principles and how these apply to hybrid working

  • If not, why not? 

    Flexible-by-default means shifting from asking, “Why should a role be flexible?” to “Why not?”. All roles are treated as flexible unless there is a genuine business reason for a role not to be. Flexibility is equally available to women, men, and gender-diverse employees, irrespective of the reason for wanting it. Working flexibly does not undermine career progression or pay. 

    How this applies to hybrid working

    Not all roles or types of work will be suitable for hybrid work: many roles/work will require a staff member to be physically present in a specific location. In these cases, agencies should consider if other types of flexibility would work for staff who request it.

  • Works for the role 

    Every role should be suitable for some form of flexibility but not every type of flexibility will work for every role. Genuine business reasons may mean that some types of flexibility cannot be implemented for some roles. For example, the demands of frontline roles may preclude an employee working from home (one type of flexibility), but other types of flexibility (for example, varied start and finish times) may be workable.   

    How this applies to hybrid working

    Not all roles or types of work will be suitable for hybrid work: many roles/work will require a staff member to be physically present in a specific location. In these cases, agencies should consider if other types of flexibility would work for staff who request it.

  • Works for agencies and teams 

    Flexible working, including hybrid working, should not be viewed as something which is just agreed between an employee and manager. This means that the impact of flexible arrangements should be considered on teams, and the agency as a whole. 

    How this applies to hybrid working

    Agencies need to take a whole-of-team and a whole-of-organisation approach. This means thinking about how teams will work together and what types of activities people need to come together for. It also enables more consistency of approach to individual staff across the organisation.

  • Requires give and take 

    Flexibility requires give and take between the employee, manager, and team. It also places collective obligations on employees, managers, and teams to be open and adaptable so that it works for everyone. 

    How this applies to hybrid working

    Successful hybrid working is totally reliant on everyone being prepared to be flexible. This may mean, for example, that a staff member on an informal WFH agreement is asked to shift their normal WFH days for specific work needs (with reasonable notice).

  • Mutually beneficial 

    Flexible working needs to work for the agency, teams, and employees. Consideration should be given to how flexible work arrangements can maintain or enhance service delivery and the performance of agencies, teams, and employees. It should not result in increased workloads for employees working flexibly, or for other team members who are not. 

    How this applies to hybrid working

    Hybrid working should enhance individual, agency and team performance. This could be by enabling staff to work flexibly, by enabling the recruitment of great people who may not live in the same city as the rest of the team, and by ensuring teams and organisations understand what work needs to be done by people physically working together. 

  • Actively championed by leaders 

    Leaders support, champion and role model flexible working for their teams and themselves. 

    How this applies to hybrid working

    Agencies need to consider the ability of their leaders to manage hybrid teams and ensure they have tools and skills to be successful. Leaders have a role to play in role modelling hybrid working and a responsibility to develop the skills to manage remote work and workers. 

Some work is best done kanohi ki te kanohi

The guidance focuses on what work needs to be kanohi ki te kanohi because this is what agencies have told us they need help with. That doesn’t indicate a preference for face-to-face work over remote work, rather it emphasises that different types of work suit different environments.

Find further information on work that can be done kanohi ki te kanohi in:

Part 3: What work needs to be done kanohi ki te kanohi/face to face?

Appendix C: Assessing the level of work to be done kanohi ki te kanohi

Principles for determining work that is best done kanohi ki te kanohi

  • Frequency

    Activities that are regularly repeated will need less in-person contact than activities that are infrequent.

  • Novelty/ambiguity

    Activities or tasks that are new or ambiguous (to the staff member, the team, or the organisation) will need more in-person contact than work that is familiar and undertaken often.

  • Individual/team experience

    Where the staff member or team is developing, they will need more face-to-face support than those who are fully proficient.

  • Trust

    Activities that build trust need face-to-face contact.

  • Task interdependence

    The more that tasks require the input of more than one staff member, the more face-to-face contact will be needed to complete the work efficiently and effectively.

Ensuring productivity in a hybrid environment

A productive Public Service is critical to New Zealand’s growth and prosperity, and the wellbeing of New Zealanders. Any changes to the ways in which we work should sustain, and preferably enhance, our productivity.

Agencies should continue to regularly monitor their performance against the indicators they have in place to ensure that hybrid working is having a neutral or positive impact.

Normal performance management such as defining what outputs and outcomes are expected, along with time and quality expectations based on the staff member’s role and experience are the key to ensuring productivity in a hybrid work environment.

Part 4: Implementing hybrid working to ensure productivity has more detail on managing productivity.