According to the 2022 Pew Research Center Study, the majority of employees want flexible remote work options to continue, while nearly as many crave more face-to-face time with their colleagues.
In an effort to respond to the shortage of qualified workers, businesses are finding that they must redesign their office spaces and reinvent themselves to accommodate the hybrid work environment. But hybrid schedules aren’t a perfect solution. They often blur the lines between home and office, and that means affected workers and their managers must learn how to establish and adhere to boundaries.
In this article, we will share some pro tips to help you and your team thrive in today’s hybrid work environment.
Establish a formal hybrid work arrangement.
A hybrid work policy that clearly delineates expectations helps your employees to be their happiest and most productive. It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, so design and document a policy that responds to the unique needs of your organization. It should clearly lay out the guidelines and best practices for your new operating model and strive to proactively answer any questions your team members might have about the arrangement.
The policy should outline eligibility criteria for hybrid work and what the expectations of a hybrid employee are, including how many hours they are expected to work each day, what the hours are, and if and when they are expected to come into the office space. Other relevant information such as compensation, changes that may be required to the policy, inclement weather, and any special situations that may apply should also be addressed. It’s important that you include access to key resources workers may need as they adapt to this new hybrid environment, as well. The more answers you can provide upfront, the stronger and more effective your hybrid work arrangement will be.
To help you and your hybrid workers excel from the start, establish helpful pointers with them:
- Can the job be done remotely?
Every job cannot be done remotely. For example, an employee who needs to send and receive mail, greet visitors in workplaces that receive guests, or ones that require work tools that aren’t easily moved to home is not a good candidate. It can also be difficult to groom new or inexperienced team members. Many less-experienced workers don’t always know what they don’t know and are hesitant to reach out to managers, especially remote ones when they are “stuck.” However, an experienced manager who is nearby is more likely to be approached by that junior team member for help.
- Establish a consistent schedule.
Given the nuances of the hybrid workplace, performance can take a hit without some thoughtful intervention. Figure out what schedule works best for the employee and the company. Set routines for home and office days provide a sense of structure. Creating a shared calendar lets colleagues and managers know what days employees are in the office and what days they are working from home. This will help everyone stay clear about who is supposed to be where and on what days, which will reduce confusion and scheduling errors. Some companies require approval of days and hours, so be sure to establish if this is your norm.
- Establish parameters.
How long will the hybrid situation last? Is it temporary? Is it long term? What are the performance metrics? Is there an expectation that there be a separate home workspace free of distractions?
- Parcel and coordinate tasks.
It can be demotivating for an employee to make the trip into the office only to sit alone at their desk on Zoom meetings all day. Experts say that hybrid setups become more productive when workers sync up their tasks based on the location from which they are working. As much as is feasible, use office time for collaboration and connection with your employees. Save heads-down, independent tasks for their work-from-home days.
- Focus on results, not hours.
Let go of the notion that work can only be measured in hours. Instead, focus on outcomes and contributions. In a hybrid work environment, it can get tricky to keep boundaries intact, especially as you and your employee adjust to these new waters. For example, on their remote days, they may be tempted to start earlier and end later to prove that they are still productive at home. Or they may feel a need to come in early and work late on their in-office days so they can have extra face time. It can become a problem if they end up working longer hours every day, which eventually leads to burnout. Instead, you and your employee should keep track of results and accomplishments as a hybrid employee. That way you can both demonstrate that they are productive, loyal, and dedicated regardless of where they’re working.
- Flexibility wins the day.
The hybrid work environment is new for many employers. As companies try to figure out what it all means for everyone involved, there are bound to be a few missteps along the way. An extra dose of understanding will be critical as we all navigate the hybrid landscape. There are likely going to be some changes when you compare how things used to operate and these adjustments may feel uncomfortable to all at first, but it’s important to keep an open mind and a positive attitude. Accept that hybrid won’t be perfect and it won’t be painless. There will be some trial and error, but demonstrate patience and grace with everyone—including yourself.
Hybrid environments are the emerging American workplace. By approaching this new landscape with flexibility, actively embracing the new culture, and optimizing time in the office, everyone will enjoy a better, more productive hybrid workplace.
Are you striving to establish and adjust to the hybrid workplace? The HR Team is here with valuable guidance and seasoned insights to facilitate your efforts. Please contact our knowledgeable professionals to learn more.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.