Embrace the Future of Work with Hybrid Working
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the way we work and live, forcing many organizations and employees to adopt remote working arrangements. While some people may prefer to return to the office full-time, others may enjoy the flexibility and freedom of working from home or anywhere else.
How can we balance these different preferences and needs in the post-pandemic world? The answer may lie in hybrid working, a form of flexible working that allows employees to split their time between the office and another location.
Hybrid working is not a new concept, but it has gained popularity and relevance in the wake of the pandemic. According to a survey by McKinsey, 52% of workers would like a hybrid work model after COVID-19, and 68% of executives expect to use it more frequently.
Hybrid working can offer many benefits for both employers and employees, such as increased productivity, engagement, well-being, diversity, and cost savings. However, it also poses some challenges, such as communication, coordination, connection, creativity, and culture. How can we overcome these challenges and make hybrid working a success? Here are some best practices to consider:
Define your hybrid work strategy
Before implementing hybrid working, you need to have a clear vision and strategy for what you want to achieve and how you want to do it. You need to consider the following questions:
- What are your business goals and objectives?
- What are your employees’ preferences and expectations?
- What are the best ways to measure performance and outcomes?
- What are the legal and ethical implications of hybrid working?
- How will you communicate and align your hybrid work policy with your stakeholders?
You also need to decide on the degree of flexibility and autonomy you want to offer your employees. For example, you can choose from different hybrid work models, such as:
- Fully flexible: Employees can choose when and where they work, as long as they meet their goals and deadlines.
- Partially flexible: Employees can choose when or where they work, but they have to follow some guidelines or restrictions (e.g., core hours, minimum days in the office, etc.).
- Fixed: Employees have a fixed schedule and location for their work (e.g., two days in the office and three days at home).
Each model has its pros and cons, so you need to weigh them carefully and select the one that suits your business needs and culture best.
Ensure inclusivity and fairness for all workers
One of the potential pitfalls of hybrid working is creating a divide or bias between in-office and remote workers. For example, remote workers may feel isolated or excluded from important decisions or opportunities, while in-office workers may feel overburdened or resentful of their remote colleagues. To avoid this, you need to ensure that all workers are treated equally and fairly, regardless of where they work. You can do this by:
- Providing equal access to resources, tools, information, and support for all workers.
- Creating a transparent and consistent performance evaluation system that focuses on results rather than inputs or visibility.
- Offering equal opportunities for learning, development, recognition, and career advancement for all workers.
- Encouraging frequent feedback and communication among all workers.
- Fostering a culture of trust, respect, collaboration, and belonging for all workers.
Develop team working models and norms
Hybrid working can also affect how teams work together and coordinate their tasks. To ensure effective collaboration and coordination among team members, you need to establish clear team working models and norms. These include:
- Defining roles and responsibilities for each team member.
- Setting goals and expectations for each project or task.
- Choosing the best communication channels and tools for each situation.
- Scheduling regular meetings and check-ins for updates and feedback.
- Creating a shared team calendar and agenda for visibility and accountability.
- Establishing ground rules for communication etiquette (e.g., response time, meeting attendance, etc.).
Provide easy access to development
Hybrid working can also create challenges for learning and development. For example, remote workers may miss out on informal learning opportunities or mentoring relationships that occur in the office. To address this, you need to provide easy access to development for all workers. You can do this by:
- Creating a digital learning platform that offers a variety of online courses, webinars, podcasts, videos, etc.
- Encouraging peer-to-peer learning and knowledge sharing through online communities or forums.
- Providing coaching or mentoring programs that match remote workers with experienced colleagues or external experts.
- Organizing virtual or hybrid events or workshops that foster learning and networking among workers.
- Supporting personal development plans that help workers identify their strengths, weaknesses, goals, and actions.
Additional tips for developing a successful hybrid work model:
Provide training for managers: Managers need to be trained on how to properly manage hybrid teams. This entails knowing how to set clear goals, provide feedback, and build connections with employees who are working remotely.
Facilitate communication: It’s crucial to facilitate communication between personnel who are working in separate locations. This can be done by conducting frequent team meetings, using communication technologies such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, and encouraging employees to reach out to each other if they need help.
Create a culture of trust: It’s crucial to create a culture of trust where employees feel comfortable working remotely. This involves trusting people to be productive and to get their work done on schedule.
Hybrid working offers a number of benefits for both employees and employers. For employees, it can provide greater flexibility and work-life balance. For employers, it can lead to increased productivity, reduced costs, and a more diverse workforce.
Hybrid working is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires careful planning, implementation, evaluation, and adaptation. By following the best practices outlined above, you can embrace the future of work with hybrid working and make it work for you and your organization.