To master anything requires practice. Whether you want to excel at a sport, become a better manager, or perfect an art form, there’s almost always a learning curve. The same is true for adopting a hybrid work model. A hybrid workplace is part of a flexible model of work that has many benefits—improved employee productivity, real estate cost savings, and workplace satisfaction to name a few. But if you’re not careful, like any major organizational change, adopting hybrid work can lead to a decline in employee experience, retention, and productivity. To reap the benefits of this flexible model of work, you need to make the workplace a space employees want to spend their time. In this post, we’ll break down five hybrid work best practices you should follow to help your company and employees get the most out of this model of work in 2022 and beyond:
- Communicate with your people
- Work with HR and IT to ensure your workplace tech is seamless
- Create the right space for your employees onsite
- Find ways to delight and connect remote and onsite employees
- Gather employee feedback on a regular basis
1 - Communicate with your people
A key hybrid work model best practice is regular and clear communication. It is crucial–yet 60% of companies don’t have a long-term internal communications strategy. Adopting a hybrid work model will no doubt require decision-making that will impact some or all of your workforce. As a workplace leader, it’s your job to communicate your hybrid work policy and let folks know what’s going on with the workplace and why–particularly in the midst of broader organizational changes. The more you communicate closely with those impacted by the decisions, the better engaged they will be. Your communication strategy should cover:
- Who your audience is
- What your message to them will be
- What channels you’ll use to communicate
- How often you’ll communicate
It’s also helpful to do a test run with workplace stakeholders to plan for any challenges that may arise once you send any communications out. This will ensure your team can act fast, if needed, to address any questions or concerns people may have.
2 - Work with HR and IT to ensure workplace tech is seamless
Your company’s tech stack is crucial to providing employees a seamless workplace experience in a hybrid work model. According to Gartner, IT spending in companies will reach $4.4 trillion in 2022 alone. To ensure you’re making the right investments, collaborate closely with your company’s HR and IT teams. HR should have insight into the kinds of tools that employees need to be productive while on-site, including communications apps and collaboration tools. IT will make sure the infrastructure can support different networking connections. They’ll also help your company invest sensibly so you don’t accumulate tech debt.A key hybrid work model best practice is to invest in the right workplace tech trends. By partnering with your IT and HR teams, you can strike the right balance between adopting tools your employees are excited about and ensuring you don’t invest in unnecessary technologies that no one wants or needs.
3 - Create the right workspace for your employees onsite
One of the biggest challenges companies face when creating an optimal hybrid work environment is how to make the most of their physical space. A poorly managed space can lead to inefficient working environments. Be it too empty or too crowded, it can demotivate employees from working on-site. As you create an optimal hybrid work environment for folks to enjoy, best practices should include space planning and introducing the right workstations. Here are four examples of space types you might include at your workplace:
- Assigned spaces: These are individual and personal spaces, such as desks, cubicles, and offices assigned to one employee to use on a permanent basis
- Hot desk areas: These are spaces with desks that employees can book for the day
- Office hoteling: This is where folks can book desks or rooms in advance for a longer period of time, such as a week or month
- Informal work areas: This is where employees can meet casually and take breaks, like a shared table for lunches for example
When thinking about your hybrid work environment best practices, you should also keep employee safety in mind. Although we are now living in a post-pandemic time, 87% of employees still have concerns about returning onsite. Consider setting up vaccination verification and health checks as a great way to boost confidence for folks who want to safely return to the office. You can also use a visitor management system to ensure you know exactly who’s visiting, when, and why.
4 - Find ways to delight and connect remote and on-site employees
Ensure people experience moments of delight when they’re at the workplace. After all, the office can help bring people together and instill a sense of belonging and connection. When you find small ways of delighting folks, such as connection, collaboration, and friendship–it can really help boost your hybrid work policy and encourage people to choose the office over home on some days. At the same time, the benefits of hybrid work is allowing employees the flexibility to work remotely some days. According to Gallup’s meta-analysis, hybrid and remote workers are more engaged in 2022, and engagement is higher for organizations that focus on culture. It’s important to keep folks who are not onsite engaged with what’s going on in the workplace. Here are a few examples of things your team should do to foster culture and community:
- Organize workplace activities that include remote employees. For example, you can have a virtual karaoke contest, external guest speakers, or casual happy hours.
- Create a Slack group that encourages people to take part in a daily photo challenge or question of the day. These are easy for anyone to participate in, regardless of their location.
- To delight on-site employees, try adding drink and snack stations throughout the workplace so employees can help themselves. This will also help spark interactions between employees who may not work together on a regular basis.
These may seem like small actions, but together they help build a people-centric workplace experience. And that’s key to getting people engaged with what’s going on in the workplace and excited about coming in to work.
5 - Gather employee feedback on a regular basis
Listening to your employees is critical to making hybrid work a success. Be sure to keep an open line of communication with your people as you’re thinking through changes to the workplace that impact their daily work lives. Ideally, the changes you make will be a win for your organization and the employees alike. One of the biggest benefits of adopting a hybrid work model from employees’ perspective is having more flexibility in how and where they work. Of course, this flexibility may change depending on the different hybrid work schedules that organizations are adopting. Here are a few examples:
- Hybrid at-will: Employees can choose which day(s) to come into the office
- Hybrid split-week: The company assigns specific days for on-site and remote work by team or function
- Hybrid manager-scheduling: Managers choose which day(s) their team comes into the office
- Hybrid mix: A combo of all three options.
It’s a good idea to have more than one method for gathering employee feedback. You should aim to create a feedback channel on Slack or an “always-on” survey. Providing different feedback methods will give your hybrid workforce a chance to offer their opinion as you roll out changes to the workplace. This helps you to improve your programs over time and keep your employees happy.Finally, don’t forget to ask folks for feedback. People have a lot on their plates and may not always think to share their thoughts on a new program or seating arrangement. Reach out at least once a quarter with specific questions about changes you plan to make to the workplace. Pro tip: Consider creating a cross-functional workplace committee that includes employee representatives. This way, when it comes to making decisions, like the best way to proceed with scheduling, you’ll have multiple employee perspectives. —As a workplace leader, it’s your job to ensure that workplace communications, technologies, space management, and experience all operate smoothly. By following these hybrid work best practices, you’ll build a workplace that boosts people’s belonging, productivity, and collaboration and is a space they’re compelled to visit, work, and be a part of.
Want to learn more about how to help your employees thrive in a hybrid work model? Download our ebook, How to identify and solve hybrid work challenges.