It’s more than just a buzzword: hybrid working really is the future. As we transition out of the pandemic, it’s clear that teams aren’t rushing back to the office to sit at their desk between 9am and 6pm every day. According to research carried out by McKinsey, for example, amongst American employees with the opportunity to work remotely, 86% take their employer up on the offer.
That being said, remote-only isn’t the preferred option, either. There are numerous upsides to working from the office at least some of the time, from being able to socialise with your colleagues, to spending time working on collaborative projects in person. The perfect balance for many organisations is a hybrid model, allowing employees the flexibility to plan their working locations as best suits them and their families. Your company might be very enthusiastic about allowing employees to work from a combination of the office, their home, and abroad, but the reality is that developing a hybrid working policy in your organisation is easier said than done. In this article, we cover 5 things to consider when building a hybrid working policy within your organisation.
Check relevant regulations
This is a big one: hybrid working is a relatively new phenomenon, at least on the scale we’re seeing at the moment. In the United States, for example, remote working has increased by 140% compared to 2005. This means that your area might have specific regulations in place regarding hybrid working and employees’ rights. Last month, The Netherlands made headlines around the world as the first country to mandate the right to flexible and remote working. Legislation is still in progress, but will require employers to consider all requests for remote working as long as the profession in question allows it. It’s a major shift, and marks the beginning of greater flexibility for employees in terms of how—and where—they carry out their jobs. As far as employers are concerned, it’s important to stay up to date with all relevant regulations when implementing your hybrid working policy, especially since legislation can change at short notice.
Canvas employee preferences
As you begin to strategise your hybrid working policy, it’s critical to canvas the opinions of the people the policy is aimed at: employees of your company. All too often, policies are drawn up in meeting rooms without actually being tested amongst your staff. Consider putting together focus groups and surveys to find out what your employees would love to see in terms of hybrid working policies, whether that’s flexibility regarding their hours, or the ability to work from other countries for a portion of the year. Don’t forget about those who enjoy being in the office, either: gather as much information as possible about a strategy that works for everyone, granting flexibility whilst maintaining a strong company culture.
Research new tools
As hybrid working becomes more and more mainstream, new tools and resources are popping up to help companies implement this flexible model themselves. There are a number of logistical details you will need to work out, including how your organisation will keep track of which employee is working from the office and when. You could choose to invest in software that specialises in planning hybrid working, or you could adapt your existing systems to include this key information. It’s also important to ensure that communication amongst employees remains as easy as ever, no matter where people are working from. Spend some time auditing your current internal systems and processes, and identify anything you’ll need to adapt to cope with hybrid working. The success of your exciting new policy will depend on how seamlessly it can be integrated with current ways of working, so it’s worth taking the extra time to ensure every area of your business is prepared for the change—from monthly check-ins with managers, to onboarding new hires.
Create hybrid experiences
In the same vein, when building a hybrid working policy, it’s critical to ensure that employees don’t feel left out because they’re working from home or abroad. A common concern with flexible working is that those who choose to work from the office will be prioritised over their colleagues, purely because they’re more ‘visible’. This doesn’t have to be the case: with a well-planned strategy that takes into account the wishes of employees at all levels, the added flexibility will increase employee productivity and happiness levels. In fact, this policy could reduce employee turnover by 25%, saving your company money in the long-run. Preserving company culture when you’ve got a hybrid working policy in place requires a little added creativity, but with a few small tweaks, you can easily ensure everyone feels included. Consider hybrid social events like a pub quiz, with some teams together in the office, and other teams joining online. You could also consider a longer in-person team-building activity each year, like a trip with the whole company, and include a number of online team-building events throughout the year. Similarly, learning and development opportunities should be provided in both online and in-person formats to ensure everyone can develop their skill sets in the way that best suits them.
Update your internal communications
Once you’ve decided on the practicalities of your hybrid working policy and received the necessary sign-off from decision makers within your organisation, it’s time to let employees know about the new process. Clear internal communications are particularly important when you’re introducing a new policy with lots of details, whether that’s tweaks to ways of communicating with remote team members, or getting to grips with a whole new internal tech system. Consider holding a Q&A meeting where employees can ask questions about the details of the new hybrid working policy and how they can adapt it to their own lives. Similarly, job hunters are particularly drawn to companies with flexible working policies, so ensure your policy is clear on your listings for open roles, as well as external communication channels like your social media.
At the end of the day, all major culture and internal policy changes take some getting used to, and things don’t have to be set in stone from day one. Instead, stay flexible. Run a few tests and experiments with employees to identify what works best for your company. Similarly, the world of work is continuously evolving, so make sure you keep abreast of trends and tools that could benefit your company. Finally, keep communication channels open, so that junior and senior employees alike can continue to provide feedback on your new policy.
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