Although the term “new normal” might be overused at this point, it’s still an accurate way to describe the state of most workplaces. After all, many companies changed their business models during the pandemic. Now that people have spent a significant amount of time working from home, balancing remote and in-office schedules has become more challenging.
Managers and business leaders might be wondering what the best hybrid work plan is. Is it gradually phasing everyone back to the office or having an entirely remote workforce? Some might not even be sure what a hybrid work schedule entails.
Nonetheless, there are several questions you must answer before heading back. Which schedule works best for your workforce? How can you manage your employees’ working hours? What’s the most efficient way to communicate with your staff when you’re unsure about their plans?
If you’re trying to plan a hybrid work strategy for your company, consider giving this article a thorough read. Here, you can find valuable guidelines for crafting a complete hybrid work plan for your business.
What Is Hybrid Work?
It’s a work arrangement that allows employees on remote, partially remote, and in-office schedules to work as efficiently as possible. Hybrid work models have a significant number of variations, so it’s up to the manager to organize a plan that makes it easy for employees to understand their new options and how to communicate with one another.
In most cases, employees alternate between working remotely and in-office. However, you can mix it up and vary things among departments and teams.
What Do Employees Expect from a Hybrid Work Model?
According to a survey from Gensler, most employees’ split their hybrid work preferences down the middle. For instance, 48% of employees said they would prefer to work full-time in one location, with 29% saying they favored working in-office and the other 19% working from home.
The remaining 52% of workers mentioned that they would prefer a hybrid work schedule where they came into the office around two to four days a week, with the rest being from home.
As a manager, it’s up to you to take the initiative. Ask your employees their preferences or conduct a quick survey. These can tell you almost everything you have to know before planning a hybrid work strategy.
Remember that these hybrid work arrangements have a broad range. Some companies benefit from having entire remote teams, while others work better with in-office staff. It’s also possible to allow employees to choose their hybrid work schedule.
You can consider almost everything when it comes to it, including your company’s departments, teams, current workload, and even seniority. It’s up to you to decide how your hybrid work plan looks like.
Hybrid Work Advantages
It’s crucial to consider the advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid work schedule when determining the best option for you and your employees. First, here are some benefits.
Better Work-life Balance
A good work-life balance is probably the most important quality a workplace may have. It’s also the primary reason employees prefer this schedule. After all, this balance is easier to manage in a hybrid work environment.
When employees have some control over their working hours and location, they can free up time and take care of things that pop up in their lives quickly. For example, they can run the occasional urgent errand, be home for a delivery, or pick up kids from daycare.
Reduced Overhead Costs
When you set up hybrid work, the most common result is having fewer people in-office at any time. For companies, it means that they don’t need to hold onto all their real estate investments. If you carefully think over your return to work strategy, you can significantly reduce your overhead costs even up to 30%.
Larger Talent Pool
In many hybrid work arrangements, businesses can hire exceptional talent from all over the world. This talent pool can give your organization an edge over the others, allow it to tap into new markets, and ensure productivity around the clock.
In your traditional office model, people don’t have a say on when they have to arrive at the office. On the other hand, a hybrid office gives employees significant flexibility, and many take advantage of it by working when they’re most productive.
While some are well-suited to morning hours, others may be at their best during the evening. This flexibility is also valuable when it comes to arranging team projects. Of course, some opt to do heads-down work from their home or any other location.
Hybrid Work Disadvantages
Although there are many advantages to a hybrid work plan, it also comes with some detriments. Fortunately, these are easy to mitigate as long as you have an adequate action plan.
The first drawback to hybrid work is that it’s harder to foster team connections and welcome new workers. Also, people with more in-office work might have better career opportunities because managers and team leaders feel their presence more.
A suitable solution to these issues would be to host virtual break rooms and meetings or get teams together whenever possible. Maybe try to encourage employees to share some personal tales now and then.
Companies with mostly remote teams often have issues due to disjointed communications. In these cases, it’s better to adopt an asynchronous communication model, allowing people to communicate with ease, even in different time zones.
Finally, the main disadvantage of a hybrid work schedule could be a general lack of understanding regarding the company’s goals and projects. A simple solution would be to schedule frequent meetings to give updates on these matters.
Things to Consider When Planning For Hybrid Work
Employees aren’t the only ones who have questions about hybrid work. Occasionally, people in management get word that the company is making the switch, only to stop receiving more information afterward.
If you’re in charge of your team, department, or another prominent role in your company, planning a hybrid work schedule can be stressful. However, you can begin the process to set up hybrid work by asking yourself the following questions and pondering the answers.
Which Departments, Teams, or Individuals Need to Be In-office Frequently?
Some departments can be more flexible than others, and the same applies to teams and individuals. Those whose work makes them have frequent interpersonal interactions such as HR, IT, and field operations need to be in-office most of the time.
Can Managers and Team Leaders Manage a Hybrid Work Environment?
Moving to a hybrid work schedule is challenging for everyone involved, but managers and team leaders receive most of the burden. They need time to train and guidance to adequately adapt to the new way of working. This includes knowing how to communicate and schedule meetings effectively. Make this highlight in your hybrid work plan.
How Are You Considering the Employees’ Needs for Flexibility?
Remote and in-office days might differ for most employees, so decide whether it’s viable to standardize the schedule. Are there days where most teams should come to the office? Or times where everyone should work remotely? It’s essential to know the answers to these questions when considering the best hybrid work schedule.
How Many People Can the Office Accommodate?
Health guidelines vary per location, but it’s crucial to ensure the office layout complies with local rules. It may also be helpful to go beyond these and consider what might help the staff feel more comfortable. If the office can accommodate more than necessary, you can take advantage and reduce some overhead costs.
Typical Hybrid Work Models that Companies Implement
A vital step of any hybrid work strategy is determining which model is the best to implement. Remember that these are primarily guidelines in your hybrid work plan. You can mix some of these to come up with an ideal schedule for your employees.
In this model, employees work in-office most days except for one or two where they can choose where to work. This schedule is the easiest to manage. It’s a good choice for businesses with staff that need to be in-office frequently but don’t need to work with other teams to get their tasks done.
This model is the most common one and is often the starting point of any hybrid work plan. An example would be everyone coming in from Monday to Thursday and working from home on Friday.
It’s similar to the office-first model, except employees work most days from home and only come to the office whenever necessary. There’s a vast operational difference between this model and the previous one.
A company has to structure its culture, systems, and processes around its hybrid workforce. Although this model minimizes some disadvantages, it also worsens others. For example, it reduces inequity but makes it difficult to foster a sense of belonging.
In this hybrid work schedule, people still have set remote and in-office days. However, they can arrive at different times. It might be beneficial for companies that share their office with other tenants because it can reduce check-in times.
Taking one of the previous examples, people could come in from Monday to Thursday and work from home on Friday. However, they also come and leave the office in hour increments.
Alternating Hybrid Schedules
This hybrid work schedule takes the best aspects of the previous models, allowing employees or managers to occasionally change remote and in-office working days. For example, if a department comes to the office three days per week and spends the rest working from home, the company could switch things up the next month and make it work in-office only a day, spending the rest at home.
Remember that you can implement or mix these models to find the best answer. You can also apply a model to part of the workforce and choose another for the rest.
How Can Managers Smooth Out the Transition to a Hybrid Work Schedule?
After you decide on a hybrid work plan that works best for your employees, it’s time to create a roll-out plan. However, it would be best if you had adequate technology and the right people before implementing it.
Survey Employees and Find out What They Need
If you want a hybrid model that works for your business, speak to your employees and find out their needs. When you involve employees, you can create a hybrid work strategy that keeps them motivated.
You can do this by sending a survey that helps gauge their sentiment around hybrid work. Remember to ask questions about their preferred setups and try to fit in some examples. Here are a couple of questions you can include:
- How many days do you expect to work in-office?
- If you have access to a worksite closer to home, would you prefer using that instead of commuting to the office?
After analyzing the survey results, you can gauge the demand for hybrid work at your company. You may also find which flexible work arrangements appeal to your employees and adapt your hybrid work strategy accordingly.
Build an Infrastructure That Supports Hybrid Work
An ideal hybrid workspace bridges remote and in-office environments, allowing employees to work together with ease. Something that helps in this matter is investing in hybrid work technology.
Autonomous Hybrid is an excellent example, but other communication tools and video-conferencing equipment can work as well. Regardless, it’s up to you to decide whether you require new tools or if you can work with what you have.
Include in your hybrid work policy some company-wide communication practices, and encourage your workforce to follow them. Also, always set clear expectations with your employees, and urge other team leaders and managers to do the same.
Foster Company Culture
Investing in your company’s culture is especially important in a hybrid work strategy, as employees can’t swing by their coworkers’ desks or have a water cooler talk. Come up with some opportunities that could improve the mood of your employees, such as virtual team-building activities. Having frequent in-office meetings can be helpful as well.
Collect Continuous Feedback
As you foster the ideal hybrid work environment, don’t forget to gather employee feedback. Provide employees with multiple ways to share their thoughts, such as a dedicated Slack channel or one-on-one meetings, as it can help you iterate your workplace up to a successful result.
The Bottom Line
Crafting a hybrid work plan can be complicated, but it can be straightforward with proper guidance. However, it would be best to ask some questions before planning a hybrid work strategy. The ones listed here cover most of the bases, but others could also lead to an excellent result. Finally, roll out your devised plan and never stop gathering feedback.
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