So, a company decides that it wants to implement hybrid work.
What’s the plan?
Now, you should keep in mind that there are several factors that impact the organization of the hybrid workplace:
- The office location,
- The employee’s location,
- The nature of work being done (sales, marketing, software development, etc.)
- Flexibility of leadership teams,
- The needs and goals of both the employer and employees.
While the logistics of hybrid workplaces are different from company to company, there’s one thing that’s common: employees want to own the where and the how of work.
Now, we have prepared a hybrid work implementation plan for you, but you should know that it needs to be adjusted to the above-mentioned factors. Before jumping into the actual plan, there’s one thing we want to underline: hybrid work is about more than just the place of working. It’s also about connecting in-office teams with remote teams. It’s about productivity and wellbeing. It’s about inclusive engagement. And all these lead to a proper company culture.
Next: the plan.
Here’s a checklist that we prepared for you when you decide to implement hybrid work:
- Talk to your employees and see which are their expectations. Identify the pain points and challenges. In this issue, employees and employers need to meet halfway to minimize friction.
You could first talk to team leads, and get the pulse of each department, then move on to a survey across the whole company.
- Find ways to address the previously identified challenges. Think about:
- How will on-site and remote employees collaborate?
- What touchpoints in our company require in-person interaction?
- How can you strengthen the company culture?
- Are there some legal requirements that we should know about?
- How will employment contracts change?
- How to deal with the safety and security of data when working from home?
- Do certain employees and departments have specific needs? You’ll see that customer support, sales, HR, tech, marketing, do have different needs, individually or as a team. Also, older people might feel the need to stick to their fixed desk. Newbies can get frustrated if they are not seated next to their team leader. Also, you might realize that some teams need their own office space, because it’s mandatory to stay together and collaborate. In a flexible office you need to think of productivity, on how to foster collaboration and employee satisfaction.
- How will communication be affected by the hybrid work policies? The loss of a familiar workspace, and the separation from teammates and managers, makes some people feel unsupported by the management.
Don’t neglect this research phase, because it will inform all other activities.
- Create a clear and transparent hybrid work policy where you state at least:
- Who is eligible for hybrid work? Are there differences between certain teams?
- Working hours. Are there flexible working hours? How are they managed? Must team leads and managers approve flexible working schedules for employees that request them?
- Work system – how many days can be spent in the office and at home? For example, certain countries do not allow employees to work from a place that is not their home. So, it’s important to be informed about the latest legislation when it comes to remote work.
- The resources available to employees (monitors, laptops, headphones, etc.),
- Rules for communication,
- The roles and responsibilities for hybrid workers and their team leads and managers,
- How tasks are tracked, how performance is being measured,
- Safety and security rules,
- The tools and tech stack used to manage hybrid desks (if the case),
- If any expenses are going to be covered by the company. Some country laws specify that the employee will need to split internet or energy bills with the employer.
In the next chapter we are digging more into the topic of hybrid work policies.
- Rethink the office space. Do you still need the same number of desks? What about the meeting rooms? hat about creating spaces that better foster collaboration and creativity?
You can get inspired by how LinkedIn redesigned its HQ office. They created:
- Neighborhoods where people can work together. They have a fluid layout, ample light, and open space that foster in-person connection and collaboration. This is compensating for the lack of interaction that happens when working from home.
- Meeting spaces that feel like cool hotel lounges. No more windowless conference rooms!
- Flex zones designed for more intense group-working sessions.
- Deep focus areas where employees can focus best on their work.
- Cafes. They are being repurposed. Cafes are no longer just about eating, they’re about connections — sitting down together for a meal is still a powerful way to strengthen relationships at work.
Each space in the LinkedIn office has proper tech to foster creativity and collaboration.
- Create a solid communication plan.
Choose a tool where you can manage all communications (unless you already have one). Start a channel dedicated to hybrid work. Prepare a timeline for the implementation of procedures. Announce colleagues when milestones are reached, as well as challenges occur. Include them in the conversation and get their feedback along the way.
Make sure to create a flow of communication: who informs who? Who do you need to talk to on particular topics: meetings, performance, desk booking, etc.
- Prepare the implementation of new tech necessary to support hybrid working.
Is your existing tech stack enough to manage a hybrid workplace? Do you need sensors, or other third-party tools?
What tools will you use for document encryption, for safe communication? Is data stored safely in reliable cloud infrastructure?
- Plan socializing events and meetings.
You will need to focus more on them, from now on, because you will need to virtually shorten the distance between employees. You can even think of virtual coffee hours, where colleagues just engage on different topics, or simply go freestyle, with the purpose of getting to know each other better.
- Get feedback from employees after 3 months and see if changes are needed in the policy. Provide the necessary adjustments if the case.
Now, the purpose of the hybrid work policy is to protect the interests of both employees and the employer, by defining clear working conditions and expectations. In the next chapters we’ll go more in-depth with the hybrid work policy and come up with some clear examples as well.
Implementing hybrid work is a process that needs to be polished along the way. The secret of success lies in transparency and communication.
To be honest, the biggest challenge is to foster a community of employees who feel connected and motivated despite working miles apart. Because proximity bias is a real thing. So, at the end of the day, it’s all connected to a healthy company culture. An essential part of a thriving company culture is workplace wellbeing.
Now, if you want to measure workplace wellbeing, the folks at the Centre for the New Workforce (Swinburne University of Technology – Australia) developed a framework that you can use. It has five components: subjective wellbeing, work engagement, social wellbeing, accomplishment, and health.
You could use this framework to get feedback from employees after implementing hybrid work, and check how engaged they are, how connected they feel, and more.
|Positive sentiments||I felt my work-life balance improved. I felt happier. I had positive mental health and wellbeing.|
|Negative sentiments||I felt alone. I felt hopeless. I felt like leaving my job.|
|Job satisfaction||How satisfied are you with your job?|
|Engagement||I was able to zone out and not be distracted when I needed to.|
|Meaning||I worked on tasks that had a meaningful impact.|
|Growth||I had access to learning and development opportunities.|
|Motivation||I felt motivated to work.|
|Purpose||I felt I had purpose and meaning at work.|
|Quality connections||I felt connected with my organization. Learned new things from colleagues.|
|Social capital||I have grown my connections with colleagues outside my team. I could easily collaborate with my team.|
|Quality exchange relationships with leaders||I received feedback often.|
|Social support||I felt trusted. I felt supported.|
|Accomplishment||I was able to work effectively and get things done.|
|Success||I knew exactly what I needed to do most of the time.|
|Physical health||I was able to take a break when needed.|
- Adjust and refine the hybrid work policy.
Hybrid work plan: checked!
Now, who will implement such a plan?
Who’s in charge of managing hybrid work in the workplace?
Depending on the size of the company, there can be multiple departments and people involved: from office managers and admin managers (aka workplace teams), IT departments, to HR teams. Let’s skim a bit through their challenges when it comes to implementing hybrid work:
In adapting to the new normal of the hybrid workplace, the roles of office managers and admins have changed a lot. New challenges arise when dealing with on-site and remote employees. Workplace teams need to answer questions such as:
- Who is now in the office?
- Who is now sick?
- Who is working from home?
- How do we manage resources in the office?
- How do we track resources (monitors, laptops, headphones, etc.) that are outside the office?
- How to manage hot desking?
- How to create an office atmosphere with a focus on collaboration?
- How to optimize workspace usage?
At the end of the day, the workplace teams work like a mediator between the needs of the employer and the employees. They can oversee a hybrid work strategy and guide both employees and employers through in a way that makes everyone happy. Not easy peasy, I’m tellin’ ya.
Technology is the pillar of a sane hybrid workplace. Literally, hybrid working couldn’t exist without technology. There’s a huge amount of tech needed to allow workers to run remotely without compromising security, productivity, and employee satisfaction. So, here are some questions, the IT folks are dealing with when it comes to implementing hybrid work:
- Which are the technologies we need to implement to improve employee communication?
- Are these tools safe and GDPR compliant?
- How can we do remote training with employees when it comes to implementing new tech?
- How to improve visitor management and office security?
- What tools do we need to implement for hot desking? How do we onboard people and make them use them?
- Is there specific hardware that needs to be implemented to manage hybrid work?
These are just a few of the questions, to make you understand the direction of issues the IT teams are facing in a hybrid workplace.
Historically speaking, new employees onboarding, career growth, learning and development, were linked to time spent in the office, while gaining exposure to leaders and teammates. The past 3 years disrupted this status quo. New challenges have risen in the workplace, and the HR teams are struggling to find fixes. Here are some questions that they are facing:
- How can teamwork be improved in the hybrid workplace?
- How can team leads and managers improve their leadership skills, to be able to face the challenges of hybrid teams?
- How to motivate employees to come to the office?
- How to measure productivity?
- How to diminish proximity bias?
- How to manage remote training and learning?
- How to prepare proper onboarding plans for new employees when dealing with hybrid teams?
- Who is now in the office?
- How do performance reviews change in a hybrid workplace?
- How to ensure employee bonding?
- How to foster a sense of belonging between employees?
- How’s the mental wellbeing of employees?
These questions can vary depending on the size of the teams, and the company culture.
Now, the workplace, IT, and HR people usually work together to introduce hybrid work. With a proper hybrid work policy, they can safely navigate through the topic.
Another thing we should consider is the fact that flexibility trumps hybrid. I mean, what about starting work between 7 and 10, or working 6 hours today, and 10 tomorrow?
Data shows that flexibility is becoming a key value proposition for employers (LinkedIn Global Talent Trends 2022). It seems that when employees are satisfied with their companies’ time and location flexibility, they are 2.1x more likely to recommend working for the company.
That said, I’m inviting you to our next chapter on the hybrid work policy.