Best practices to implement in your own hybrid office
We’re finally done with the hybrid work chit chat, it’s time for some real-world stories. Agree?
So, sit down, relax, and enjoy these success stories coupled with some hybrid work best practices.
PUMA North America opened a new headquarter in Somerville, Massachusetts with a flexible and hybrid work mindset.
The company encourages employees to go to the office three days a week, but this can vary by team. In an interview, PUMA North America’s CEO, said ” At PUMA we’ve implemented core in-person meeting hours to occur within the 10 am to 4 pm time frame to support flexible commuting. This allows our employees to not be bound by commuting to and from the office during peak traffic hours and provides flexibility for our employees to start and end their day at home or make a call or two during the commute as part of the traditional workday. ”
- Set up no meeting hours.
- Flexibility trumps hybrid. At PUMA, people can start work at home, then commute during low-traffic hours, then go back home.
“Work is not where you go, it’s what you do“, says Francine Katsoudas, Cisco’s Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer.
Cisco lets its teams decide how they’ll work best in this new hybrid world. The top management did not impose a specific number of days in—or out—of the office. They are aware this is a trial-and-error process, but they are willing to learn and improve. They are checking in with their teams and leaders every few months to see what works and what doesn’t. Then they adjust accordingly. Listening to people is essential in this process of adapting to the hybrid reality of the office.
Also, Cisco applied its smart office approach to its New York City office at One Penn Plaza, a 54,000-square-foot space with a variety of flexible workspaces and high-tech meeting rooms. The smart building tech will help Cisco vision of providing a significant reduction in energy costs and reaching its internal company goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
- Let teams choose how they work best
- There’s no one-fits-all approach
- Listen to feedback and adapt
There’s a mantra at HubSpot: “our values live in our hearts, not our hallways“. This is why they built a hybrid company with three flexible work options: @home, @office, @flex.
So, the folks at HubSpot wanted to make work-life harmony a reality. They know that there’s no one-fits-all approach when it comes to working, so they’re letting employees choose how they want to work.
The employees that choose to work from home will be supported by HubSpot in their home office setup. The employees that go for the flex working model (coming to the office 2 or fewer days per week), will be using a hot desk. HubSpot will also support their work-from-home set-up.
- Who says you need to be office-first, or remote-first? You can be both. Let employees make the choice that fits them better.
- Support employees in setting up their home office.
Grammarly is a remote-first company. What does hybrid mean for Grammarly? It means that they believe that in-person interaction builds trusting relationships, innovation, and a supportive culture. Therefore, the working model includes face-to-face collaboration among teams each quarter. These meetings will focus on strategic planning, project kick-offs, brainstorms, and retrospectives. They can happen in one of Grammarly’s hubs in New York, San Francisco, and Vancouver.
Trivia: did you know that Grammarly was recognized for the second year running as one of Inc.’s Best Workplaces of 2022?
- If you choose a remote-first hybrid model, you can plan monthly or quarterly face-to-face meetings with a clear purpose: strategic planning, brainstorming, etc.
“Leading with trust” is LinkedIn’s mantra.
LinkedIn adopted a hybrid work model and even designed its flagship office to match the hybrid needs.
For example, the first design planned offices for 1080 individual workstations, following the principle of one person-one desk. After the pandemic hit, they changed their mind, and created 569 individual workstations. Then they added several other non-traditional seating setups. For example, the minute you enter the building, you see a café. Such a setup screams engagement, don’t you think?
There is also a coworking space, with smaller spaces, where people can come from home, spend a few hours, then go back home. People that spend the whole day in the office have their own space.
- Think of redesigning office space to foster hybrid teams. Think of the purpose of spaces: are they meant for brainstorming, for collaboration?
It’s been more than two years now since Dropbox announced its new working plan, committing to a ‘virtual-first’ approach. What does this mean? Well, the Dublin employees are enjoying collaborative spaces and non-linear workdays, meeting on average once a week in the office.
Also, in 2021, Drobox opened Dropbox Studios, Dublin’s reimagined office to support collaboration and teamwork. Laura Ryan, VP of the company’s global HRBP team, said that “our teams come to our Dublin Studio to connect in person around a shared purpose – whether that’s for team off-sites, culture building, learning and development activities, events or collaboration”. This is why they don’t even have any individual workstations. I’m loving this, aren’t you?
Now, what about employee feedback? It seems that since launching “virtual-first”, 78% of Dropbox employees said that they feel more productive as a result, and 72% feel they had a better work-life balance. There’s another interesting outcome: the new working model has been cited by prospective candidates as a key reason they want to join Dropbox, while noticing that also the applications for roles have increased in 2021 compared to 2020.
Another inspiring story comes from the folks at Dropbox had the idea of Dropbox Neighborhoods. These are communities run by local community managers, that group together on Slack employees who are close in location. Their purpose is to arrange events, volunteering days and informal meetups.
- Think of redesigning office space to foster collaboration and teamwork.
- Organize online communities to increase engagement and socializing in and outside work.
Because the folks at Spotify believe that work isn’t something you come to the office for, it’s something you do, they truly embraced flexibility. This is why, back in 2021, they introduced “Working From Anywhere”. So, there are two main options available:
- My Work Mode – Spotify’s employees will be able to work full time from home, from the office, or a combination of the two. The exact mix is a decision each employee and their manager make together.
- Location choices – Spotify introduced more flexibility when it comes to what country and city each employee works from, while also considering legal limits that can vary from country to country. Also, if someone chooses a location that is not near a Spotify office, they will be supported in finding a co-working space membership if they want to work from an office.
After one year of “Working from anywhere (WFA)”, the folks at Spotify drew some conclusions. Here they are:
- Around 60% of spotifiers chose to continue to experience the office as their main place of work.
- Almost half of all new hires in 2021 were hired in a location outside of the Spotify main hubs. It seems that the WFA program helped Spotify grow at a faster pace than usual.
- The WFA program might have helped with the overall employee attrition, which is lower than in other peer companies.
- People feel less connected to Spotify as a whole but more connected to their immediate team.
- Teams with multiple members spread across geographies are more successful than teams with just one person in a different geography.
- Flexibility beats hybrid work. Not all employees are alike. They have different needs, that require different solutions. So, when you think of designing a working program, you should try to be flexible and come up with win-win solutions for most employees.
- Try to identify ways of measuring the success of your program, in order to be able to refine the policy.
In Salesforce, teams come together and decide how they want to work. This policy is called “Flex Team Agreements”. So, teams decide how, when, and where they work — including how many days a week they come into the office and what kind of work they’ll continue to do at home.
If we look at some of the data, across Salesforce globally, 59% of employees came in at least once a week in May. Wednesday and Thursdays were the most popular days, followed by Tuesdays. The idea isn’t for people to come back to the office, and then sit in back-to-back virtual meetings all day. This makes total sense, doesn’t it? I mean what would be the point of getting people to the office and spending hours in virtual meetings? This can be done from home as well.
Angela McKenna, EVP of employee success, EMEA at Salesforce, understands that people come into the office to develop relationships. To achieve this, Salesforce came up with this creative idea: Trailblazer Ranch. This is a gathering place where employees can forge trusted relationships with their colleagues, learn from one another, get inspired, grow in their career, get trained on the company, and give back to the community in a fun and safe environment. The ranch is based in California, and the new Salesforce joiners will have priority in checking in. Also, survey data will be used to figure out who most needs to connect with their teams and Salesforce’s culture.
There are other interesting initiatives inside Salesforce’s various teams, such as:
- “Async Week” where employees cancelled routine meetings to create space for more deep, focused work.
- “No Meeting Fridays”.
- Monthly wellbeing days.
Now, what does the data say about Salesforce’s flexible arrangements? Well, let’s see:
- Employees are 16% more likely to agree they are more productive at home, and 13% more likely to agree that their teams are more productive at home than in the office.
- The office is truly a place for human connection and collaboration. In the Sydney office, 64% of collaboration spaces like lounges and conference rooms were used, while only 24% of desk space was used. And employees working in the office were 19% more likely to have connected socially with a colleague compared to those working from home. So, one thing is for sure: socializing in the office has a strong effect on the sense of belonging.
- Flexibility in the workplace can be decided inside teams.
- Make space for days or weeks without meetings, or even for wellbeing.
In order to create their new working model, the folks at Adobe conducted interviews and focus groups with hundreds of employees, managers and leaders across various locations, organizations, and tenure. The idea was to get insights to both inform their plans and test their hypotheses to create a future model that would work best for Adobe. The conclusion was: Adobe will go hybrid. It is more than a year now that Adobe said that its employees have the option to work away from the office at least 50% of the time.
Flexibility is at the core of Adobe’s hybrid work policy: its employees will have greater flexibility to work from home or the office as it makes sense for the individual, the team and the business. As a rule, people will work both from home and the office. But, in-person gatherings will be driven by purpose and will be designed for collaboration. I feel this is the smart thing to do. Why go to the office just to do the same stuff that you would do from home? Let’s just do something different and more valuable, when working from the office.
Adobe is also using its smart digital campus app, Adobe Life, as a solution to power their new hybrid workforce. The app focuses on helping employees stay connected, informed, and productive.
- When developing your workplace policy, you can run interviews and focus groups to understand the needs of your employees.
The folks at Target transitioned hybrid work gradually. They wanted to give themselves time to test and learn from each other. Most team members won’t be given a set amount of time they’re expected to be onsite vs. remote. Instead, each person will work with their leader to personalize a plan based on their role, team and preferences.
Target also took the opportunity to rethink the HQ as a place that fosters collaboration.
- When thinking of starting with remote work, and you want to have a safe approach, you can start things gradually, and learn along the way.
Now, what do all these companies have in common when implementing hybrid work?
- An understanding that work shouldn’t depend on the place where it is performed.
- The idea that there’s no one-fits-all approach, and that flexibility should be at the core of any decision when it comes to hybrid work.
- The insight that the office is a place where people and team can meet to socialize. Bonds and connections are shaped in the office and a sense of belonging.
Which one inspired you most?