While the pandemic disrupted the culture of the 9-to-5 office grind, technology has helped companies build a more flexible workplace for years. Video conferencing, workplace communication tools, and cloud storage have made it easy to build some remote work into the workweek. These tools have made many employees wonder why they can’t have it all: control over their schedules, reduced commutes, and time for personal demands. And really, why shouldn’t they?
That’s where hybrid work comes in. It gives employees more control over their schedules and enables employers to manage their office space in a cost-efficient way. In a hybrid work model, employee schedules include work from home and on-site days. Since hybrid working is intrinsically flexible, you’ll want to roll out a crystal clear hybrid work policy to help avoid confusion and maximize collaboration. Read on to learn more about how to design a hybrid work strategy that works for everybody in this new era of working.
What is a hybrid work policy?
Simply put, a hybrid work policy outlines where, how, and when employees should work on a remote and in-person schedule. Sounds easy enough, but when you’re working with teams of folks, each with different working requirements, preferences, and expectations about their schedules, it can get confusing. Specificity and clear communication are essential as you design and roll out your hybrid work guidelines. Your policy should outline your workplace’s expectations and responsibilities for your hybrid workforce, and lay out a set of guidelines for hybrid operations. That includes clear processes for employees to follow to determine their hybrid schedule, secure approvals, and coordinate with their teams. It should also be collaborative, cross-functional, and designed with input from employees. Some teams might prefer in-person work on Mondays and Fridays, while others may prefer a Tuesday through Thursday in-office schedule. Other teams might prefer to address employee work preferences on a person-by-person basis. Make sure you gather feedback as you design your policy. More on your hybrid work policy checklist later.
Who should create and oversee your company’s hybrid work policy?
While your policy should absolutely reflect the desires of your employees, in order for it to be clear, enforceable, and representative, somebody needs to step up to lead its design and oversight. Workplace managers in particular can have an important role to play here. As leaders of their departments, workplace managers have good insight into how their teams operate and what their direct reports prefer in a hybrid working environment. The process of developing a policy can be enriching in itself; management folks can really take the reins to shape the best policy for their teams, while building visibility and working across the organization.
What should a hybrid work policy include?
As mentioned earlier, your hybrid work policy should be informed by employees, answer any questions, and clearly communicate working guidelines. This includes different schedule options, and clear delegation of approvals to establish and enforce norms. Without further ado, here is your hybrid work policy checklist:
- Why is your company going hybrid? For employees to follow a new hybrid work policy, they need to understand why you’re enacting it to begin with. Make sure you have a clear answer. If you’ve developed the policy in partnership with your employees, this part should be easy and obvious.
- Who is eligible? Are all employees able to work on a hybrid schedule, or is it only for employees who meet a certain criteria? And, if a certain criteria is required, what is that criteria? Is it based on longevity at the company? Managerial approval? Personal situations? Be sure to make this clear so employees know whether they qualify.
- When should employees be on-site? Outline a clear schedule of when employees can work remotely vs. on-site. Some workplaces might have one big monthly meeting day that all employees are required to attend in person, with a more flexible schedule the other days. Others might prefer employees develop strict schedules with their managers to know exactly who will be where at any given time.
- What are the expectations? What’s expected of employees when they're working remotely, as opposed to on-site? Since you’re accommodating a more flexible schedule, the hours you may expect employees to work could shift. For example, you could set “core hours,” (e.g., 10 am–2pm), during which time employees should be available for meetings, while maintaining flexible expectations for working hours beyond that.
- Where can employees learn more? Post the policy on your internal workplace website or intranet, with links to resources. (Think: FAQ documents, research on hybrid work, any employee survey results that informed the policy.) Don’t forget to hold a live meeting and/or “office hours” where folks can drop in and ask your HR and workplace team questions. More on that in the next section.
How to circulate hybrid work policies and guidelines
Of course, your employees need to understand your policies before you can put them into practice. Three tips here: communicate, communicate, communicate. You should communicate your policy to the point where it feels like you’re over-communicating; it’s been said people need to hear messages at least seven (and as many as 20) times before really processing them.Send out regular emails leading up to the policy launch, present it at all-company and team meetings, post it on your workplace communication channels, and host drop-in support hours for HR to review the policies. This will also be an opportunity for employees to ask any questions. Get creative here, and remember, the more you feel like you’re repeating yourself, the better you’re communicating the message!
At the end of the day, you’ve got to trust your employees to get their jobs done—and trust that they know the best way to do that. A hybrid work policy allows you to set guidelines, clear up confusion, and empower people to build a schedule that works best for them. The result? Better morale, more productive employees, and a hybrid work culture that thrives.