If you’re reading this, there’s a chance you’re part of the team responsible for creating a hybrid work policy. Following work-from-home orders and the adoption of remote work during the pandemic, ‘hybrid work’ became the buzzword of the working world.
And for a good reason, too. There are now fewer location-driven limitations, creating a greater work-life blend and higher levels of happiness and productivity.
Much like any mass adoption of any workplace trend, policy creation is a key part of making sure hybrid work is a success. And, given Australia now has the highest percentage of hybrid workers in the world (34%), it’s something that most companies are now scrambling to do.
What is hybrid work?
Hybrid work is a flexible mode of work that gives employees the opportunity to work partly in the physical workspace and partly remotely, from home or elsewhere. While hybrid work has existed in some workplaces for a while, it rose to popularity following the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are some examples of hybrid work models?
Keeping in mind this is a non-exhaustive list, some examples of hybrid work models include:
The remote-first model
In this model, remote work is the default though employees can come into the office as and when they need. This model tends to offer the most flexibility and varies quite a bit between organisations.
For some, it means only coming into the office to collaborate and work on larger projects. For others, it means providing a space for employees to use as often or as little as they like.
The office-first model
In this model, office work is the default though employees can choose to work remotely at times. Companies that adopt an office-first model usually set a mandatory number of days in the office. The remaining days of the week are optional as in-office or remote.
For organisations that rely on collaboration both within teams and across departments, this tends to be the model of choice.
The schedule or split-week model
Though far less common than the previous two models, the schedule model is present across some workplaces. In this model, teams rotate which weeks they are in the office and which weeks they are remote. This helps with capacity planning when it comes to using office space, which is especially beneficial for large companies.
It’s important to note that this model is considerably less flexible, and can result in weaker connections between teams.
How do you make sure your hybrid work policy is a success?
To successfully implement a hybrid work policy, there are a few things to consider.
1. Get the best tech and IT services to support hybrid work
No matter what model you adopt, you need to provide seamless technology. This means using functional software, covering everything from cloud storage to communication.
Make sure employees working remotely are using the correct equipment, and have basics like internet connectivity, security, and hardware covered. When creating your hybrid work policy, ensure you’re clear about what programs and software the company uses, and why.
For example, you might use Slack or Microsoft Teams for more casual, day-to-day conversations, and Gmail or Outlook for tasks and projects.
Ultimately, you want to guarantee that all employees are using the same equipment, programs, and software for the same reasons.
2. Make sure your policy supports the needs of your team
A mistake some organisations make when it comes to creating a hybrid work policy is creating the policy without consulting the team. While you’ll never be able to meet all the needs of your team members, you can involve them at various stages of policy creation.
This could look like hosting brainstorming sessions with key members. Or, sending out surveys and providing them with the opportunity to provide feedback. When it comes to finalising your hybrid work policy, ensure you account for the different circumstances and abilities of the team.
Offer the opportunity for team members to discuss their personal needs with their manager. Consider making it so certain elements of the policy can be tailored on a case-by-case basis.
3. Clearly define your hybrid work model, and any relevant roles and responsibilities
From the outset, your hybrid work policy needs to define what hybrid work model you’ll be adopting, what it entails, and which employees it relates to. If you’re not offering a blanket hybrid work policy, communicate how employees can request tailored models to suit them.
Ensure all employees understand their roles and responsibilities when it comes to hybrid work. Outline any grievance procedures that may occur should they not adhere to the policy.
Finally, review and update other policies that may be affected by the new hybrid work policy, and communicate any changes to the team.
4. Optimise your physical workspace to promote collaboration and productivity
After rolling out a hybrid work policy, it’s likely many employees won’t interact as often as they did when they were working in-office five days a week. As long as the physical workspace you offer promotes collaboration, you’ll find this won’t make a difference to how your team interacts.
Provide a workspace that features a range of areas for both focused work and collaboration: lounges, meeting rooms, breakout spaces, private pods, and desks. Amenities like a café, exercise studio, and outdoor terrace let team members come together and interact away from the desk. An office, desk spaces and phone booths all give employees privacy and space to focus.
5. Treat remote employees the same as you treat in-office employees
Looking after your employees wherever they’re based is the final step of rolling out a hybrid work policy that many organisations fall flat on. Both remote and in-office employees need to have access to important company-wide meetings.
Encourage the use of a communication platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams both within and across teams, and create channels for both work-related chat and more casual, friendly conversations.
Ensure your management team is meeting regularly with remote staff, and any key conversations can be facilitated online to include both in-office and remote employees.