Create a thriving hybrid working environment in 5 small steps
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to shift to remote work, many businesses now realise that work could still get done without employees being physically present in the office. It’s clear that the future of work will not be solely remote or solely in-person. As companies continue to navigate the new normal of remote and hybrid work, it’s crucial that they establish clear expectations and guidelines for their employees. And unlike Disney and Twitter, it’s very important that they don’t change their minds randomly when the leadership changes.
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However, a recent survey conducted by Mercer found that only a third of organizations have formal rules in place for managing flexible work. Mercer assessed 749 organizations and found that 48% rely on informal and ambiguous guidelines to manage flexible work, 17% are completely hands-off, and only 34% rely on clear and transparent formal rules. This lack of clear communication and expectations can have a serious impact on both retention and recruitment efforts. And how effectively do companies communicate about the policies they do have? Fishbowl recently conducted a survey of 7,300 professionals about how well they understand their company’s plan for hybrid work. About half (50.8%) did understand their company’s hybrid work guidelines, but 49.2% did not. Not a good outcome.
Hybrid work refers to a working model where employees split their time between working remotely and working in the office. The hybrid work model allows companies to have the best of both worlds: the flexibility of remote work and the benefits of in-person collaboration and teamwork.
Header What Is a Remote, Flexible, or Hybrid Work Policy?
A remote, flexible, or hybrid work policy is an agreement that outlines when and how employees can work from locations other than the office or on a flexible schedule. These policies can be temporary or permanent. Remote and hybrid work policies describe who can work remotely, the best practices to follow, and the legal rights of remote employees. Flexible work policies outline expectations for employees who work on a flexible schedule and help clearly set expectations for communication and availability.
Why is a hybrid work policy necessary?
According to a survey conducted by Microsoft in 2021, 73% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, but at the same time, 67% of workers want more in-person collaboration post-pandemic. This shows that workers want the flexibility to choose where they work and when they work. Therefore, a hybrid work policy can offer that flexibility and satisfy both the employer’s and the employee’s needs.
However, many companies have been slow to adopt hybrid work policies. According to a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company, only 9% of companies plan to adopt a fully remote work model, while 40% plan to adopt a hybrid work model. However, this means that the majority of companies are still not implementing a hybrid work policy, despite the clear benefits. The need for a hybrid work policy goes beyond employee satisfaction. Hybrid work policies can also lead to cost savings for businesses. For example, a hybrid work policy can reduce the need for office space and reduce commuting costs for employees. Additionally, a hybrid work policy can attract top talent from all over the world, as the need for a physical office is not a requirement.
To ensure success in a hybrid work environment, guidelines should cover expectations for office attendance, communication, collaboration, and work hours. Effective communication and collaboration are crucial elements, with guidelines outlining how to handle issues that may arise and establishing expectations for remote team meetings and check-ins.
Work hours and time management must also be considered, with a clear framework preventing burnout and resentment. Guidelines should include strategies for fostering employee engagement, and companies should be flexible and adaptable to changing needs, with regular reviews and updates to the guidelines.
Involving employees in the guideline creation process, providing necessary training and resources, and being aware of cognitive biases are also important considerations. Companies without clear guidelines risk confusion, resentment, and high turnover rates, and guidelines should be established to ensure employee support and success in a hybrid work environment. As a leader, recognizing the importance of hybrid work guidelines is crucial.
HR Checklist for implementing a hybrid work policy:
Manager’s Checklist for implementing a hybrid work policy:
With a remote or hybrid working environment becoming the standard for many, team leaders and managers must figure out how to lead remote or hybrid workers and set goals and KPIs in a new world of work.
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In conclusion, the future of work is changing, and companies must adapt to stay competitive. A hybrid work policy can offer the flexibility and benefits that employees and employers need, but it requires a thoughtful approach from HR and managers. With the right approach, a hybrid work policy can lead to greater employee satisfaction, cost savings, and a more diverse and talented workforce.