October 26, 2021 by Andrea Rajic
Many companies have had to navigate through the crisis quickly: switching to the remote or hybrid work models was, in many cases, the only way to save the business. However, this task hasn’t been easy at all.
There are too many aspects to consider: working hours, schedules, suitable tools, expectations when it comes to virtual communication, and more. On top of that, employees are looking to rely on leaders while going through the transition, while leaders themselves are facing these challenges for the first time.
Given that the research shows that 68% of the American workforce claims they would like to adopt the hybrid work model fully, the answer is clear. Hybrid work is now mainstream and leaders need to provide their workers with structure and clarity.
A way to achieve that is to create a hybrid work policy. In this guide, learn what it should include and how to build one for your team.
While fully remote companies don’t have an office to go to and their teams are distributed all over the globe (or at least a city or a country), the hybrid work model refers to organizations that work both remotely and from the office. In the past few years, the number of such companies dramatically increased, and in 2022, this trend isn’t going anywhere.
It’s impossible to switch to hybrid work without properly established rules that will facilitate the process both for executives and employees. Even though this form of work is considered highly flexible, it still needs a little structure. It means that, if by implementing hybrid work you mean announcing to your team that they can work from home two times a week, you’re bound to face failure pretty soon.
Why? Here are a few questions you may not have the answer to. On which days can your employees work from home? Will their schedule be flexible on these days? How will they hold meetings and communicate with the rest of the team? You need well-defined rules to these questions before you send your team off to their homes.
A hybrid work policy is a set of guidelines that help you:
Creating a hybrid work policy is beneficial not only for the reasons mentioned above but also because it helps maintain a strong company culture, which is one of the top reasons why executives are hesitant to finally embrace the hybrid work model.
They fear they won’t be able to maintain a strong company culture if they’re physically away from their employees, which is why 62% of them believe two to four days a week at the office are necessary.
However, the number of days spent at the office isn’t the key factor in the successful implementation of hybrid work. It’s all about guidelines that are clearly defined and accessible and work in favor of everyone within the organization.
Although it’s the executives’ and managers’ responsibility to lead, creating a successful hybrid work policy is supposed to be a team effort to work well for everyone.
First, the C-suite and the managers need to analyze the way they’ve been managing their business over the last two years. When they’re able to identify their strengths, pitfalls, and goals, it’s time to gather feedback from their employees.
That will help them create a policy that won’t only be good for the organization itself and aligned with high-level business goals, but it will also help the company keep and attract talent, especially if it operates globally.
There isn’t a universal answer to what your hybrid work policy should include since it all depends on a company’s needs and goals. Still, there are a few steps you can take towards creating an effective policy for your business:
Here are multiple factors you should consider when creating a hybrid work policy for your business - and outline them clearly in your document.
Clearly define the schedules different departments and individuals will need to stick to when it comes to working from home and coming to the office (or designated coworking space). What works for your team depends on your business needs, but, generally, you have several options:
If running a global team, you need to take different time zones into consideration, as well. Make sure you find a balance so your employees at the office don’t need to stay at work too long after their working hours so they can have a meeting with their colleagues from another side of the world. To manage this challenge, you can:
Define the types of meetings you consider necessary and how often they need to be held. Determine the best way to run them - in person or online. You can also explore different platforms to hold these meetings, depending on the number of people who need to attend them.
One of the biggest challenges of hybrid work is communication. You need to consider two important aspects of efficient hybrid workplace communication: tools and expectations.
First of all, define what tools you’re going to use for sharing different information with the team and other remote workforce management needs - emails, Google Meet, Slack, Basecamp, Asana, Notion, etc.
Define what internal and external communication involves and which channels you’re going to use for each purpose. With all this in mind, promote async communication whenever possible - it’s a way to keep the workflow uninterrupted even if there are hiccups somewhere along the line.
On the other hand, setting clear expectations and boundaries will prevent misunderstandings and issues. No one should be online and available 24/7, so ensure every person on your team knows when they can message or call their colleagues while being mindful of their time zone. If communicating via Slack, for instance, allow your team to set the “away” or “busy” status when they’re focusing on work, so no one interrupts them.
The goal of establishing a clear hierarchy in each team isn’t to demonstrate power, but to show that there’s a clear process in place - not only when a problem emerges, but in the everyday workflow, too. To manage that, your employees should know who’s in charge of what, so they know who they can talk to in specific situations.
Also, make sure every person in the team knows what they need to do - when they check-in at the beginning of the shift, when they complete a task, if they stumble upon an issue, if they have a question, before a meeting, before they check out for the week, etc. This can be a time saver and eliminate unnecessary steps in your procedures, making the whole system more efficient.
Providing your employees with the necessary equipment when they’re working from home can be tricky, especially in terms of data security. How will you protect confidential information your employees need to work with when they’re not at the office?
If you buy your staff computers, ensure you can track each device so the company data can be safe wherever your team works from. Provide cybersecurity training and educate your employees on how to recognize phishing and create strong passwords.
Choose the right tools you’ll use for different purposes in and outside the office, and make sure everyone has access to their accounts. If it’s a new tool, help your staff manage it by providing them with video training with tutorials.
Finally, there’s the human component of a hybrid workplace. We often focus on the practical aspects of running a hybrid company and forget that we also need to nurture team spirit and engagement if we want to be successful.
Interpersonal relationships are a bit more challenging to maintain when you’re working remotely or in a hybrid work environment.
Define your employee wellness strategy by choosing the most suitable ways to boost the team morale: organize casual chats, team building activities, company offsite, encourage using flexible workspaces for employees who live in the same city, nurture honest communication, and make praises a habit.