The rise of popularity of flexible work is not just a reaction to the global pandemic. There’s a good reason why flexible work is on the rise; it offers significant benefits to employees and organizations alike. According to Slack’s Future Forum research, respondents working at companies allowing flexibility in where they work reported 43% higher productivity scores than those who did not. Moreover, 72% of organizations that offer flexible work reported a positive impact on motivation and employee engagement, and according to GWI, companies can save up to $10K per year per employee.
One way to implement flexibility in your workplace, is to adopt a hybrid work model.
A hybrid work model is a flexible work model that supports a blend of in-office, remote, and on-the-go workers. Since the onset of the global pandemic, many organizations switched to a hybrid work model, and as of the beginning of 2022 over 76% of respondents to a survey by TravelPerk stated that their organizations are shifting to a hybrid work model.
This type of flexible work calls for a need to adjust the ways of work including structures, processes, and methods of communication. A key concept behind hybrid work is that a successful adoption of this model involves re-thinking and re-designing the ways of working.
If you are looking to improve your hybrid work model, or if you are exploring how to best implement this, we outlined some important considerations to keep in mind:
1. Define the work model
The amount of optionality employees have when it comes to deciding where they want to work from, is not the same in all organizations. Whereas some companies opt for an “at-will” model, where employees can choose whichever arrangement they want, some others have split-week models and shift work models, where employees need to be briefed on a certain cadence. Before you announce your decision to switch to a hybrid work model, make sure you evaluate the level of optionality that fits both your organization’s and employees’ needs, and be clear about arrangements that can be made.
2. Determine the tech stack & train employees
To optimize the performance of hybrid teams, ensure everyone has the hardware they need to work remotely, as well as access to documentation, resources, and any other information they require to get the job done. There are plenty of tools that support hybrid teams, but they are ineffective without the right training, upskilling, and refresher courses to ensure everyone is proficient. This includes trainings for new joiners who may not be familiar with your hybrid tech suite.
3. Nurture company culture
It’s not surprising that those who work remotely might feel disconnected from their peers. In fact, only 12.5% of our #FutureofTeams survey respondents reported having increased connection to their team members when their teams went remote.
Creating a virtual community is therefore essential when teams have members who work remotely. We recommend using rituals, which are meaningful activities or habits your team establishes and performs on a regular basis to foster shared culture, collaboration and connectivity. Rituals are even more important for hybrid teams to build, maintain, and increase their connections with one another, regardless of where they are located. Some ritual ideas we practice are “team time,” creating distinguished Slack groups for informal discussions and catch-ups, and hosting monthly retrospectives. For more ritual ideas, check out our ritual bank.
4. A change in communication
Communication is a widely cited challenge for hybrid teams. In these contexts, communication shifts from synchronous to being asynchronous meaning, most communication does not happen in real-time.
Organizations have to rethink internal communication guidelines before adopting hybrid working models, to make sure employees use the relevant channels, tools and best practices to effectively share information. This also means equipping meeting rooms in offices with the right technology and conferencing tools to connect those co-located with those working remotely.
To help you with communication in hybrid settings, we have two resources. The first is a three-part article series with documentation guidelines and the second is a worksheet to help you map out the tools and channels that are used for asynchronous and synchronous communication.
5. Re-think processes, policies, and procedures
Any change is vulnerable to disruptions, and shifting into hybrid working models is no different. To ensure the transition is smooth, processes, policies, procedures and ways of working are subject to change. Below is what we recommend you consider and communicate during the transition:
Processes: Processes shift as teams are distributed and ensuring your processes are fit for the new work model is critical. Update and document policies, storing them on a shared drive, for all team members to access.
Policies: Enshrining policies is often the final phase of a transition, demonstrating commitment to making the change permanent. In the case of hybrid work, there are a few questions to consider when developing hybrid work policies: How do employees schedule time in the office? What benefits do remote employees receive? What tech and IT Security policies are in place and how would they change?
Procedures: Illustrate the way employees can navigate the work model, for example with guidelines about booking time for co-location, using co-working spaces when working remotely, applying for tech stipends if needed etc.
6. Effectively manage the transition
Any transition requires proper management to ensure a smooth shift for all those involved. Critical to this is keeping employees engaged and in the know at every stage of the process. In fact, when change is not managed or communicated well, employees can experience high levels of fatigue, with an up to 33% decrease in employee performance according to Gartner.
We recommend beginning by clearly communicating the vision of the transformation to give employees context. Next, map out the strategy and walk them through the journey they will embark on, being clear about where they are expected to be involved. Share regular updates on project progress, and collect feedback on an ongoing basis. Lastly, be sure to continuously measure engagement and morale to gauge how employees feel, and make adjustments to your plan to reduce resistance. An easy way to do this is to coach leaders and managers, ensuring they act as a channel for feedback and role model the behaviors they want to see in the team by showing empathy, endorsing change, and aligning on expectations with team members.
7. Have the Right Mindsets
It’s important to remember that despite seeing some people in the office, many team members are working remotely. We believe that when one person is remote, everyone is remote.
This mindset is critical when organizing team or company-wide activities or even the day-to-day tasks. For example, if you have a conference call schedule and 4/5 team members are in office, the entire call must be held virtually to accommodate for the individual who is not colocated. There is so much else to consider and to help you reframe your thinking, we developed the Cosmic Centaurs Remote Work Manifesto which outlines the mindsets and priority changes that take place when navigating distributed environments.
Switching to a hybrid work model is no easy task, but with the right approach and diligent implementation your organization will reap the benefits of this work model. If you need help adopting a hybrid work model, get in touch and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.