The COVID-19 pandemic has established a series of new norms that have become part of our new normality. This normative has expanded to most workplaces. Now people are getting used to new models, such as hybrid working, that grant them more flexibility and opportunities to boost their productivity. However, specific hybrid work policies should be taken into account if you're thinking about switching to this working model.
What is Hybrid Working?
What is hybrid workforce? The hybrid working consists of offering remote working and in-person attendance options. It can be a model similar to office hoteling where employees select where and when to work, or something based on the company's needs, like allowing workers to work remotely two or three days a week and the remaining days requiring physical presence at the workspace.
Still, the scenarios mentioned above are just examples. There are tons of combinations as every workplace is different and implements diverse hybrid work model policies.
The Hybrid Working Model Has Become The New Standard
Numerous studies have demonstrated that most workers prefer to work remotely. For instance, a report published by Microsoft revealed that about seventy percent of workers wish to pursue remote work alternatives while another sixty-five percent wish to share more in-person time with their co-workers.
Another research performed by IBM discovered that 62% wish to remain working remotely amongst the people evaluated. Furthermore, 44% of these persons preferred working remotely, while 35% said that a hybrid work model appears to be the safest option.
Transitioning To a Hybrid Working Model
Switching from a working model to another is not easy and takes a while. There should be multiple changes to consider and certain hybrid workplace policies to implement so the environment stays healthy and fair.
Establishing these hybrid work model policies is necessary so your business can remain prosperous and your employees can be as productive and comfortable as they are working remotely.
These are some hybrid work policies you should take into account to make the office workplace fair.
1. Rethink your current dress code
Dress codes are a huge part of a company’s culture. However, if you’re using a hybrid working model, maybe this can be a great opportunity to modify it.
For instance, you can start by establishing less strict rules for employees that cannot work remotely, such as the employees in charge of supervising remote workers via facetime and such. This way, you can make these workers feel visible and taken into account as you'll be granting them flexibility similar to what remote workers have.
2. Establish better safety policies
The pandemic has hit our culture greatly. Thus, it's impossible for us to go back to the way we were before. The majority of workplaces are establishing new hybrid work policies regarding safety. Most of them are, in straightforward terms, a follow-up of the basic safety measurements established to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
For instance, there should be special guidance during social gatherings – either for entertainment or for actual business. Furthermore, social distancing should also be a must.
It’s also essential to perform employee health screenings following the correct legal procedures. Ensuring that your employees are following the new health-related guidelines can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
Now that you're running your business using a different work model such as hybrid work from home, office hoteling or remote working, it's essential to establish a policy for the hybrid workplace that refers to the benefit packages that your employees are expected to receive according to the law.
Of course, these benefits can be different based on the state. Also, all employees should receive the same benefits equally regardless of their preferred work method (in-person or remotely).
Additionally, working on this aspect will help you let your employees know that favoritism doesn’t exist at your workplace and that everyone is taken into account equally.
4. Consider offering better flextime opportunities
Think about offering flextime opportunities to all your employees, including those who are unable to work remotely.
Many remote workers prefer working in these conditions because they may feel more comfortable at home and because they can choose the hybrid remote work schedule in which they complete their obligations.
Of course, it isn't about establishing a "free-form" in your company and letting everyone do what they want. Flextime should be done according to your company's needs, and granting these changes can also be a great opportunity to give your employees a productivity boost.
5. Evaluate the expense reimbursement thoroughly
When employees work at the office, they will find all the things they need at their workstations. However, when working remotely, workers will require their employer to provide them with the appropriate office equipment so that they can fulfill their daily activities correctly.
However, please note that it can be counterproductive offering to cover as many expenses as the employee's request. It's necessary for all workplaces to establish a reimbursement hybrid work policy clearly stating everything that the company is willing to cover so that workers can work comfortably throughout the day. You should also specify what the company will not cover in the same policy.
It's very common for a business to offer tech solutions – like computers or smartphones – with no problems, although offering to cover office furniture-related costs isn’t exactly the best thing to do and should be avoided.
Writing Hybrid Work Policies
Writing hybrid workplace policies can be a challenging task. However, these norms need to follow a certain structure in order to be adequately understood by everyone.
Here you’ll find some tips you can use to start writing the policy for hybrid workplace that will be predominant.
Define and explain what hybrid working is all about. If possible or desired, try to include the benefits of using the new work model. This page should be the introduction, and here you can find a great example of it.
- State clearly the positions qualified for hybrid work. Not everyone is suitable for these positions, such as supervisors. Certain workers will remain at the workplace.
- Explain what you expect from both remote and in-person attendees.
- Take your time to describe the conditions in which in-person attendees will have to work on a daily basis.
- Offer assistance regarding remote working.
What Components Should Be Included in The Hybrid Work Policy?
Companies including Microsoft, WeWork, and many more have adopted a hybrid work strategy, based on employee surveys. As workforces are reluctant to get back to work due to the pandemic, many companies and employees have had a taste of hybrid work arrangement and seen the benefits.
As companies draw up hybrid office policies, what are the main considerations to be factored in?
Employees are seeking clarity around hybrid working. As human resource teams across companies work to define a hybrid work policy, here are important pointers to consider.
1. Policy Statement
This section covers the need for a hybrid workplace policy, how this is beneficial to employees and employers. For example, in some companies, you may need to define the 'office' address as per the laws of the land.
2. Responsible Officer/ Sponsoring Executive
The ownership of this policy for a hybrid workplace must be listed to set out clarity. In addition, a list of contact points should employees have any clarifications and/or escalations.
3. Define Hybrid Working and Hybrid Office
As a company plans progression to a hybrid working/office, you may need a communication plan. Such communications should list (a) The need for hybrid working (b) Pros and cons of hybrid working (c) List down the start dates (d) duration this policy would be in force (e) Contact details of people who can address queries (f) Logistics - answers on how you would solve office supplies, computers, networking issues for employees? (g) A guide with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Identify and share guidelines on which roles would be eligible for hybrid working. A few employees may have questions around a change of role to avail remote working/ hybrid working. The policy will need to set out this clause too.
5. Define Eligibility to Avail Hybrid Working
Clear and transparent communication around the hybrid work model policy will make things easy for employees to understand. In addition, guidelines on the rationale and business case will help settle employee questions.
6. Decision Making Team / Task Force
Perhaps, it may be helpful to involve a task force comprising employee representation to make such decisions. In addition, of course, the business leaders of such companies will need to be involved with HR supporting the cause.
7. Clarify if Employees Would Have Options to Select?
Many companies are giving employees a choice to select from hybrid work policies. A set of guidelines often accompanies these. For example, where services are consumed on the spot, like hospitals, emergency services, hotels, remote working may not be possible.
8. Set Employee Expectations
As you introduce hybrid working and remote working, it is important to set expectations on how the company will measure a productive day? For example, what would be the work timings? Will this include shift timings? As communications are rolled out, there would be many questions surrounding a company's hybrid work culture.
9. Performance Measurement
How will performance be measured for hybrid and remote workers? How is it different from those who will be working from the office?
10. What to Expect When Hybrid Office Employees Come to the Office?
Employees who will be on the hybrid schedules will need clarity on many issues. This could include workstation allocation, seeking support when in the office, work timings, and more would help. Here are some reviews of tools that assist progression to hybrid work technology.
11. Legal Aspects - Compensation, Work Hours, and Time Worked
Human resource teams may need to authorize employees with official email/ letter announcing and recording the change to hybrid or remote working. In addition, hybrid working policy and individual official communication to an employee may need to include any legal aspects of working remotely or hybrid working. For example, in some countries, working night schedules for a female staff member is illegal.
In some countries, compensation for employees may change as per their shift, work location, and other factors. Therefore, compliance with local laws will need to be factored into the policy guidelines.
Such hybrid work policy needs to cover safe-working measures to avoid Covid-19, workstations spaced out to maintain social distance, health & hygiene aspects to be cautious, need for wearing face masks in office, regular cleaning schedules, staggered break times, arrangements for vending machines & coffee pantries and more.
13. Set and Detail the Framework for Remote Working
A hybrid work policy will need to define guidelines on remote working. For example, it could cover basic pointers on managing a healthy work-life balance, scheduling regular work schedules, managing absences, and raising requests for support on logistics and technology when working remotely.
Additionally, some companies choose to remind employees on managing data confidentiality, confidentiality clauses, and more, as employees work from home. Finally, remote managers would find it useful to read our blog on how to manage a hybrid team.
14. Listing Exceptions
Any hybrid work policy will need to be balanced with a degree of flexibility in decision-making for special circumstances. For example, this could involve individual employee circumstances, the basis of the job involved, team projects/assignments currently being worked upon, and the need to be present at different remote locations, including the client office.
15. Approval Process and Matrix
It would be helpful to define how to seek approval for change in remote working location, change in timings, and more. In addition, an approval matrix, responsible points of contact, and their contact details will need to be listed.
While the hybrid work policy itself may be exhaustive, to make this work, communication plans, town halls, and announcements may help to settle any anxiety by employees. A hybrid workplace is here to stay, and companies and employees must make the best of this for their success.
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