As of late, many companies have been working hard to figure out what they are going to do as the pandemic starts to go away. Some of them wish to switch back to the traditional office environment, while others are embracing the idea of working from home. Employees are also reluctant to give up their new working lifestyle, with many of them preferring to continue working from home or at least partially.
Working from home has provided many benefits for both employees and organizations. It has caused many business leaders to consider what type of changes they need to make in a post-pandemic world. No longer can they go back to the working environment they had two years before the pandemic started. They need to adapt to the new changes or be left behind by the rest of the competition. With employees insisting that remote working be an option for them, many organizations need to consider what to do to retain their employees.
Because of this, there has been an increase in interest in a hybrid work model. Plenty of companies are considering the idea of implementing a hybrid work model. It’s a model that allows employees to work both off-site and on-site. With many organizations planning to introduce a hybrid model, it’s necessary to change the work policy and establish one that is more suitable for a hybrid model.
For organizations that are transitioning to a hybrid model, a hybrid working policy can establish the ground rules. It helps employees know what they can do under this new work model. What should business leaders consider when setting up their hybrid work policy, how should it be structured, and what should it contain?
Introducing the idea of hybrid work model
One of the first things an employer needs to do is start their policy by explaining to their employees what a hybrid word model is and how it benefits them. They should be told that it's a working model that permits employees to split their time between working in the office space and working at home (or location of choice).
The hybrid work policy should highlight the benefits of hybrid work for both the business leaders and the workforce. Some of those benefits include: Supporting the workforce to become more flexible in the new working environment created by the pandemic. It also boosts the employer’s commitment to ensuring that employees have a positive work-life balance.
Define the scope of the policy
One thing you need to consider when making a hybrid work policy is figuring out the purpose behind the policy. Part of the goal for most organizations is to address some of the most significant pain points in the transition period from the current work model to a hybrid work model. However, when creating your hybrid work policy, remember what your employees should be getting out of this hybrid work model. Additionally, a good practice to keep in mind is that hybrid work policies should be treated as a trust-building tool. Take the time to define the purpose and scope that will work as an introductory overview for your policy document.
Which roles can work off-site?
For specific roles, working from home for a couple of days a week doesn’t impact their fellow colleges or the organization's operations in any way. For instance, a copywriter for a marketing team can participate in team meetings through a video conference or use Google Docs to create, share and edit information. Furthermore, they only require a few easy to acquire equipment such as a desktop or laptop computer, WiFi connection, and headphones to remain a productive team member.
However, when it comes to a human resources recruiter who conducts office tours for a newly hired employee and meets candidates for interviews, that could require some more scheduling when it comes to a hybrid work policy. In the case of a product manager who is required to remain on-call to speak with designers, engineers, or sales frequently, hybrid work policies may need to consider cross-functional collaboration.
Business leaders need to look over their organization carefully and consider the roles that are held in their company. They need to consider the responsibilities of each role, the equipment required, and the scheduling needs of the employees when setting up a hybrid work policy.
How often can they work off-site?
Are you setting up this policy to be used at the employee's discretion, or will there be a limit on the number of days per month when they are allowed to work off-site? Are there going to be any blackout periods when you want every employee to be working in the office together?
The hybrid work policy you created needs to establish the number of days per week employees are typically required to spend working on-site compared to working at home. For instance, your organization could be aiming to allow employees to work three days on-site and allow two days off-site. Or maybe they need to work on-site on specific days, but the rest of the week can be worked at home.
However, the policy you set up needs to ensure it allows a degree of flexibility, with the ratio for each employee depending on several factors:
- Personal circumstances
- The role they hold in the organization
- Current happenings within the role and team at specific times
- Organizations operational needs, such as the room it has available at work locations
Granted the amount of flexibility that hybrid working arrangements generally offer employees, the policy can emphasize that the employee expects the workforce to be flexible. If possible, it could include requiring employees to attend work in certain circumstances. For instance, some members of the team may require training that can only be conducted in person. Or a team meeting that a manager has determined is best suited for an in person instead of virtually.
The policy should set out what arrangements employees can expect when they are on the lock, specifically around working patterns, with a priority on the workforce working hours. For instance, if the employee is demanded to remain on strict working hours or is flexible, start to finish time is permitted. Workspace is another issue that needs to be considered with an explanation for any desking arrangements.
The hybrid work policy you create must establish any off-working measures in place, which could include distancing workstations, compulsory mask-wearing in particular areas in the office building, and frequently cleaning schedules.
Open the door for a collaborative work environment
When setting up a hybrid work policy, business leaders need to ensure they factor in socialization and team-building activities for employees to meet in person. It’s recommended that the policy allows for moments where individual teams can meet in person for a team-building exercise or retreat at least once a quarter. The whole organization should try meeting in person at least once a year.
Furthermore, managers need to conduct frequent video conference calls with a flexible agenda that allows chances for small talk and bonding among hybrid team members. By building a space where employees can chat and share stories, you can develop a smoother team dynamic and boost productivity levels.
Some hybrid teams have adopted open office hours for employees to hop onto their video conferencing platform between specific hours on a given day of the week with managers or company leaders. It’s an excellent way to brainstorm ideas of colleagues that may not usually interact with each other and acts as a decent alternative to standing at the water cooler in the office or running into someone in the hallway.
Another possible option is to grant employees a quarterly travel budget. This option can work quite well for any company setting up a hybrid work model. Employees who work off-site 100% of the time can travel to retreats or work from another location with a fellow remote team member. Or those who work remotely for a company with a headquarters can travel to HQ to meet their office counterparts, have performance meetings, or work on a short-term project.
Lastly, managers need to set up team-building and communication channels for their off-site employees to interact with their on-site counterparts regularly. Since there is a good chance that most of them won’t be spending time together in person due to schedule differences, this is a great way to ensure everyone can develop some form of bond. Activities such as virtual lunch and learns, connecting different employees each week for a virtual snack meeting, or partnering off-site employees with an on-site mentor can cause a significant impact when it comes to making employees feel included and a part of the organization.
Hybrid work policies are crucial for the success of any organization that wishes to transition over to this new work model. The policy ensures that everyone in the organization is aware of what they can and cannot do when it comes to their roles. If they have no guidance on what their limits are, too many employees will make assumptions about specific things and cause problems down the line. It is also a great way for employees to understand why some are offered off-site privileges while others are not. The policy will keep everyone in line and ensure the organization's operations continue to run smoothly.