It’s no longer a question: hybrid work is the future.
In June 2020, 73% of executives said remote work was successful for their company. When PwC repeated that survey at the end of the year, the number had increased to 83%. Fewer than one in five execs reported they want to return to work in the office as they did before the pandemic.
In addition, more companies get added every month to the list of hybrid work models. Google was one of the first companies to announce that employees returning to the office would take part in a pilot hybrid program where they worked at least three days onsite and remotely the rest of the week. But there are many others:
- Facebook announced its employees could work from home through at least July 2021 and expects at least half to continue working remotely permanently.
- Most Microsoft employees can now work remotely up to half the time.
- Salesforce recently announced that its employees can continue working remotely, either part of the time or all of the time.
- Shopify decided that its employees are welcome to work remotely, announcing that “office centricity is over.”
That being said, it’s only a matter of time before the business world catches up. Employees prefer this way of working—so much that businesses now use it as a tool for talent acquisition. But that doesn’t mean that transitioning to hybrid work is easy.
What is hybrid work?
A hybrid work model is a relatively new concept, at least on a scale this large. Hybrid work isn’t a situation where half the employees work permanently in the office while the other half work permanently remotely.
Hybrid work, in its current form, pertains to employees who spend half of their time in the office and the other half remotely, working where they feel most productive. For example, employees might choose to work three days a week in the office, or some might opt for half days instead. In essence, businesses give workers the flexibility of choice and strive to support those choices.
But while a hybrid work model allows for a lot of flexibility, it doesn’t mean everything is free-form or that anything goes. Nor is it straightforward or easy to implement. Hybrid work is a fabric of an organization’s culture that requires careful planning before adopting.
What questions should businesses ask before going hybrid?
Consider these questions so you can create a hybrid work policy that lets your business and employees thrive:
1. How will we define who can work where?
Think about who needs to work in the office and why. How much does each employee need to collaborate with others and rapidly exchange information? Should newer employees, recently promoted ones, or those with performance problems be onsite for better support? Do some employees have children or others at home who need their help? Will those needs change when schools reopen?
2. How can we clearly outline responsibilities?
Are your employees clear about the organization’s strategy and their role within it? Does every employee clearly and accurately understand his or her job and responsibilities? Are you sure?
3. How will we support employees as we transition?
What training do you need to provide to employees ahead of time? What will they need to know about the new hybrid arrangement? Where will they turn to ask questions or offer feedback?
4. What tools are in place to facilitate collaboration and productivity?
Do you have a communications system that will keep your employees well-connected? Does it provide a consistent, unified platform for calling, team messaging, and video conferencing so your employees can easily collaborate? Does everyone know how to use it? Should you provide further training? Does it keep your data secure? Do employees understand the importance of using your unified system and not their own personal communications accounts?
5. How will we address employee isolation and disconnect?
How will you keep employees motivated, connected, and engaged? Can you show them how the work they’re doing is part of the company’s larger work? Paul McDonald, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half in Los Angeles, says purpose, meaning, and innovation don’t arise organically. “Clearly communicating the vision for what’s next as the company formally transitions to a hybrid model will be important,” he said.
6. How will we measure the effectiveness of our hybrid work model?
What are your goals? What metrics will you look at? How often?
Start looking at how hybrid work will impact your business and ask yourself the above questions. You’ll be in a much better position to make the most of the new work paradigm for your employees and your business.
Originally published Mar 11, 2021, updated Aug 23, 2021