In spring 2021, we saw a shift where organizations tried to return to the old model of having all staff work in person. However, this was largely unsuccessful because many staff preferred working remotely. As a result, we’ve seen that most organizations have ended up with a hybrid approach.
Hybrid organizations combine remote and in-person work, but the exact setup can vary for different organizations. Some organizations may choose to designate certain staff or roles that always work in person while others remain remote. Others may establish dedicated times when staff must come into the office, such as for certain meetings. Some organizations allow staff to come in as they please.
None of these setups are necessarily better than others; what matters is that you embrace the hybrid approach and decide on what works best for your organization. Then, you can make sure staff have the resources they need and give your staff a clear explanation of your expectations
Deciding on a Model of Work
To start, consider the hybrid work configuration that will best serve your staff and your business goals. For example, if your organization requires collaboration between departments, it may make sense to ask staff to come into the office once a week. Or, if certain staff need to use special equipment in the office, your organization could require some staff to always work in person while allowing the rest to work remotely if they prefer.
Before choosing a hybrid work configuration, make sure to consider your staff’s preferences and opinions. Some staff might feel that they’re more efficient when working remotely, or they may not need in-person collaboration to complete their tasks. In fact, it appears that remote staff tend to work longer hours while also experiencing less stress, and they have an improved work-life balance.
On the other hand, while remote staff can be more productive, they can struggle with innovation, so it’s worth considering what matters most for your staff when deciding who comes into the office and when. By working with your staff, you can decide on a model that works for the whole organization and keeps your staff’s needs met.
Developing Hybrid Policies
Once you’ve decided what you want your hybrid workplace to look like, it’s time to develop policies so that your staff understand what’s expected of them. You can develop an internal group to handle this in-house, or you can bring in an outside consultant like DelCor to assist. Setting up formalized policies will make your staff more comfortable and will help during the hiring process. You may lose out on job candidates if you don’t make it clear that you allow fully remote staff.
The next step is to make sure both your remote and in-person staff have the technology and other resources they need to be successful. Your remote staff may need equipment to work at home, and your staff that work both remotely and in person will need an equivalent setup at home and in the office so they can function in either location. If you choose to give staff the flexibility to reserve workstations in the office, you’ll have to consider how staff will know who’s in the office that day so that they can make the most of their in-person days.
Meetings in a Hybrid Setting
Many organizations struggle with facilitating meetings in a hybrid setting, so you should consider how you handle meetings that include staff both in and out of the office. You could set up your office with audiovisual equipment that will allow your in-person staff to sit in a conference room while your remote staff are up on a communal screen. Another option is to encourage all staff to sit at their desks and join video calls for meetings, so remote staff and in-person staff are on the same level.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you think through all the details of your new setup. Many organizations have conference rooms that are perfect for all in-person meetings but aren’t good for hybrid meetings because the room is too large to cover with one camera or there is only one microphone for a large number of staff. It’s also useful to consider what meetings are best conducted online versus what meetings are best in person. You may find that it’s only worth conducting meetings that require personal connection such as onboarding in person, and you can just attend all other meetings online.
In the end, all you have to do is make sure you have some structure around your hybrid office. By establishing and communicating your policies and expectations, you can avoid staff getting frustrated with the lack of clarity, and you can benefit from a hybrid workplace that supports your organization’s workflow instead of disrupting it. Having solid digital workplace standards in place will make sure your staff know how to collaborate with each other whether they’re in person or remote.