Working remotely had been growing in popularity for years leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, but the sudden need to isolate hastened the trend. Now, studies show that 59% of job searchers choose companies that embrace a hybrid workplace over ones that don’t. Furthermore, 74% of companies in the United States plan to adopt a flexible work environment indefinitely.
To remain competitive while recruiting talent, an effective hybrid business model is key. These tips will help you establish a work culture where individual employees can thrive and remain engaged without sacrificing team morale and profitability.
What Is a Hybrid Workplace?
A hybrid workplace is an organizational structure that allows employees to decide where and how they work. Time might be split between coming into the office, working from home, or working from a remote location.
Having this autonomy helps employees choose the work environment that allows them to be more productive. It also helps employers access a wider talent pool since they can hire from anywhere. Additional cost-saving benefits include higher employee engagement, a smaller environmental footprint, and lower employee turnover rates.
How to Build a Model That Works
Though the hybrid model is becoming the new normal, it’s important to find the right balance of flexibility and effectiveness that works for your team. The most successful organizations will consider that different work environments work best for different employees, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Here’s how to create a hybrid workplace that supports both your employees’ needs and your business’s goals.
1. Take a Poll
Not all employees want to work remotely, and those who do might not want to work from home all the time. The reasons for this can vary. For example, managers might want to come into the office to collaborate with other executives more than non-managerial employees. Other employees might not have a strong internet connection or be distracted at home.
This is why the first step to building your hybrid business model is to ask employees what they need to do their best work. It could be a simple questionnaire with prompts such as:
- What are your concerns about a flexible work environment?
- What are some ways you would benefit?
- How many days would you like to work in the office?
- How many days would you like to work remotely?
- Which scenario describes your ideal work environment? A. 100% in-office, B. 100% remote. C. Splitting time between office and remote. D. Any of these work for me.
Make your poll anonymous to encourage participation and honesty, and consider meeting with executives and managers to interview them about the potential pros and cons. This way, you can get a 360-degree understanding of how a flexible work environment might affect different employees, teams, and departments.
2. Create a Policy
Once you understand your team’s needs, you can use that feedback to create a customized hybrid workplace policy. Every company will need a plan that lays out the rules so employees know what is expected and what procedures will be put into place.
Focus on the protocols for how to:
- Decide which days to work remotely or come to the office.
- Notify managers about work schedules.
- Reserve a room or desk in the office.
- Communicate with team members.
- Track hours, metrics, and productivity.
- Share documents.
- Host and join meetings.
- Run meetings with a mix of in-office and remote team members.
- Participate in daily, weekly, or monthly huddles and one-on-ones.
- Report sick days, vacation, and travel expenses.
- Coordinate onboarding for new hires.
- Provide ongoing trainings for employees.
Explain the parameters around these expectations. For example, are you setting up a remote-first company that requires employees to come in at least two days per month? Or is it two days per week? Do you have people working together in different time zones that need to be available during certain times of the day? Will you be providing stipends for commuting expenses, home office equipment, or snacks and meals?
Also point out whether it’s a company-wide policy or if certain aspects pertain to specific departments or teams. If you are making a distinction between who gets to work remotely and how, make sure it’s for a good reason (for example, employees who work with customers might need to do so in-person at the office or any retail locations). This way, group is getting unnecessary privileges over the other.
3. Assess Technological Needs
Next, plan what tools you will need to provide your employees so they can collaborate easily. For example, you might ask employees and new hires if they need a computer or monitor or if they will be using their personal devices. Will you ship them to each employee or require them to pick it up at the office?
Some hybrid workplaces set employees up with laptops and docking stations that they can easily move from home to the office. Others also provide office equipment such as keyboards, monitors, headsets, office chairs, desks, and printers. This is also great to ask on your initial questionnaire so you can get an idea of the equipment necessary to make your hybrid configuration work.
4. Adjust Your Setup
With changes in how many employees come to the office each day, you might find you no longer need as much space as you once did. While it might not be practical to sell your office space or change locations, there are a few things you might consider. For example, will you need to:
- Reserve an area for employees who come in often?
- Designate flexible office spaces that need to be reserved?
- Rent office space from a third party as you need it?
- Allow others to rent your office space when not in use?
You might also find that with more office space you can set up a studio for your teams to come in and create content to build your brand. This makes showing up at the office more fun and engaging.
5. Train Management
The shift to remote work requires adjustments in how to manage the hybrid workforce. Train them in how to lead a partial or fully remote team, including providing direction, measuring success, training direct reports, and recognizing high performers.
This means mangers fill a supportive role, making sure employees have what they need to accomplish their goals and support the company mission. They might need to provide employees with more networking and training opportunities. This type of inclusion fosters more creativity and collaboration.
Continue Fostering a Supportive Work Culture
Now that you know how to build an effective hybrid workplace, you’re well on your way to improving your culture. Showcase your new business model and attract top talent with a free job posting on Monster.