During the previous year, many organizations permitted their employees to work from home for the first time. While the vaccine for COVID-19 is starting to become widely available, not everyone is okay with returning to the traditional workplace. Employees and organizations alike have seen the benefits of remote working, and many of them are considering making it permanent or introducing a hybrid model.
The hybrid work model allows some employees to work from home while others work in the office space. Some other hybrid models include a combination of on-site and off-site throughout the week for employees, such as three days on-site and two days at home. According to Slack, over 73% of employees would prefer a combination of on-site and off-site work. It also helps that some of the biggest companies around are considering a hybrid model initiative in which employees will spend a few days in the office and the rest work off-site.
In a recent report, Google’s CEO Sunda Pichai stated that a hybrid model would boost productivity, foster collaboration, and improve the well-being of employees. The company announced early on that employees would continue to work home throughout 2020 and continued to extend that throughout 2021. That has allowed them enough time to come up with a plan that helps balance the off-site and on-site aspects.
However, Google is not alone in these endeavors. A recent survey published by Gartner revealed that 82% of business leaders would permit their employees to work remotely for at least a certain amount of time. However, there are still some considerations that need to be taken care of when it comes to moving into a hybrid work model. Changing into a whole new work model is not seamlessly done with a few minor adjustments. Before your organization can make the switch to a long-term hybrid work model, you need to consider several things.
Let’s go over what you should consider when moving over to a hybrid work model.
Wage and labor laws
If your organization is planning to continue allowing some time spent on-site for your remote team members, the payroll and compliance issues should be relatively easy to handle. But if your employees are working hourly instead of by salary, you need to become more watchful to prevent the possibility of time clock fraud. Managers need to get together to discover the best possible way they can monitor their off-site employees' work activity and document absences properly.
If you plan to premiere some employees to work entirely off-site, consider whether it is ideal to set up a remote job posting for candidates in other cities. One of the massive benefits of hybrid work models is the opportunity to reach out to talent outside of the organization's immediate area. However, if you manage to hire a W2 employee in other states, you need to follow that state payroll and labor laws. For instance, there are differences in sick leave and PTO policies. Some states, such as California, require the employer to pay out accrued but unused vacation upon termination. Furthermore, there are also variations in income tax withholding requirements and rates.
These variations can make your compliance, payroll, policy, termination, and onboarding process somewhat complicated and time-consuming. Some companies may consider using a hybrid work model that only hires remote employees in the U.S. where they already have established offices or in-person worksites to ease the issue. If your organization decides to go in this direction, make sure to include in the job description which states you are hiring. That allows you to save both yourself and the applicant's time.
Responsibility is an essential part of running a workplace, and it ensures that the environment is safe for everyone. When an organization finally opens its doors back up to allow employees into the office space, they need to take ownership of making sure that their employees are as safe as possible. They need to take every proper precaution required to protect the health of their employees. Guidelines concerning social distance hygiene and so forth need to be established to provide a clean environment.
However, for this to work, every employee must share the collective ownership of keeping things safe. The idea of everyone being in it together becomes a reality, and not just some motto being spewed on social media. Everyone in the workplace has a role to play in ensuring that the workplace remains safe by maintaining proper behavior. It’s far less demanding than trying to force people to act in a specific way and much more about emphasizing that every employee has a role to play in developing an environment that unites everyone and ensures safety, whether it is on-site or off-site.
Productivity and morale
One downside that comes with a hybrid work model is the erosion of the organizational steps that culture and performance rely upon, such as cohesion, trust, and shared experiences. There are going to be times when employees can feel discounted from the organization and their fellow team members. With a hybrid work model, people are coming and going. Employers need to work even harder to ensure their teams feel connected to each other.
Maintaining a connection with various employees is going to be a significant challenge. Managers will need to become more thoughtful about building relationships with the organization and team members by planning social interactions. That can be accomplished by starting the meeting by sharing personal news or conducting team activities that foster mutual trust and respect among the team members.
Motivating employees through meaning and connecting them to a higher sense of what the organization is trying to accomplish will become crucial in maintaining engagement and productivity levels. Managers cannot rely on meaning or innovation to appear naturally within a distributed working environment. It is already challenging enough for that to happen when people are all gathered together in person. Business leaders need to take the time to communicate the vision for what’s the next step of the organization as it transitions over to a hybrid work model.
Employers who integrate a hybrid work model also need to consider what type of technology solution will best suit the needs of their workforce in this hybrid arrangement. Companies must grant employees connectivity in a virtual environment and ensure that the information is secure. Furthermore, they need to ensure collaboration tools are set in place to make remote work much more productive.
There will be times when off-site employees need to gain access to sensitive customer information or company data. Business leaders need to consider how they are going to ensure that no leaks occur during this process. Department heads need to work with the IT department to ensure that appropriate data security measures are in place. Have the IT team provide the necessary equipment checks and employee training on cybersecurity.
If it is within the realm of budget, consider providing company-issued devices. Employees may potentially visit websites outside of work where they log into the company website on a shared device, which has the potential to cause a security risk or virus. Permitting or enforcing the need for storage of company documents on an employee’s personal computer also means they will have access and copiers of some vital information even after their termination.
If your organization is involved in a highly regulated industry, check your policies before granting your workers permission to work off-site.
Balance is crucial when it comes to introducing a hybrid work model. Regardless of how your organization decides to implement the hybrid work model, it needs to be able to provide a balance to the employees. If the employers are being offered a rotating schedule, most balance aspects are already established for you, with specific days of working in either setting. When an employee is assigned to stay either at home or come into the office, they need to take charge and find a balance by either requesting a different time or finding other locations to work.
Another essential part of the hybrid work model that needs to be taken into consideration is the training process. How can your organization structurally make sure that executives and managers are equipped with the correct training to deal with this new way of working?
Training programs will need to be prepared to ensure they know what to do throughout this process. They will require the right tools to manage a hybrid workforce while they are both in and out of the office. Companies need to also consider whether their existing training is sufficient to help employees and if it provides them the skills they need to handle this new working environment.
Another thing you need to consider is how the training looks like when not everyone can be in the room physically together. It should not be treated the same way as before COVID19 since not everyone will be on-site or in a single room. Companies will need ways to keep their employees attention, so the information presented to them needs to be easy to digest. That is accomplishable by breaking down the training into segments.
However, not everything needs to be thrown out the window. The current training program can be adapted into something that can complement the new working environment. It should focus on the necessary skills that your team may be lacking, especially if you are using technology they may not be used to but required to maintain this hybrid work model.
There is no way to predict what can and cannot be done when it comes to transition over to a hybrid work model. Every company will have its own style of a hybrid model since it all depends on its unique situation. Your organization needs to take the time to consider what may and may not work when establishing its hybrid model. Take what we have written into consideration and expand upon it with what you know about your company.