Lately, the hybrid workplace has become a popular option for employers to consider when bringing employees back to on-site work. In some ways, a hybrid model is an ideal middle ground; it offers flexibility to employees who have developed a preference for remote work while also promoting collaborative in-person experiences.
Many employees are still working from home, even as the pandemic wanes. However, whether you have a hybrid model or you’re considering one, you can help employees succeed in the hybrid workplace, now and into the future.
Why Consider a Hybrid Workplace?
It’s no secret that what’s driving many organizations to consider hybrid work is, employee preference. After two years of working from home, many employees have understandably come to enjoy the flexibility remote work provides. According to a recent Accenture survey, 83 percent of employees said they preferred a hybrid work model.
Some additional reasons hybrid work may make sense for your organization include the following:
- Higher productivity: With more flexibility, employees may be able to work more efficiently. Seventy-eight percent of employees surveyed by The Harris Poll said they would be more productive if they could choose when to work on-site or remotely.
- Support for DEI initiatives: By offering greater flexibility for working parents, those with a long commute, and many others, a hybrid model helps to recognize the varying needs employees have for working at home and on-site.
- Lower real estate and operational costs: Fewer people at work may reduce your need for office space. A Microsoft employer survey found that 56 percent expect lower real estate and business travel expenses due to hybrid work.
4 Ways to Help Employees Succeed in the Hybrid Workplace
Your decision to operate a hybrid model can’t be taken lightly. It also can’t be a “set it and forget it” exercise. You’ll need to understand employee needs and pay attention to what works for your culture and day-to-day business operations.
Try the following steps when evolving to a hybrid workplace:
Understand the unique needs of your workforce
When you’re considering a hybrid model, it’s important to understand what makes sense for your workforce. For example, employee surveys may tell you employees prefer to be in-person for meetings and at home for other work.
Remember that it’s not just a question of where employees should be working, but also what kind of environment they need to be successful. As the 2021 Accenture Future of Work Study points out, “Asking where people should work in the future might be the wrong question. A better question is: What unleashes a person’s potential, enabling them to be healthy and productive, regardless of where they work?”
Get your managers involved
To embed hybrid work into your culture, encourage leaders to set the tone through their example. After all, employees are likely to feel uneasy with a hybrid arrangement if company leaders aren’t using it.
Also, as employees become acclimated to a new hybrid arrangement, they will rely on managers as a source of support. As a result, you should train managers to coach employees and understand their needs in the hybrid environment.
Help remote, on-site, and hybrid employees belong
Where remote employees may have felt left out before the pandemic, they may also feel alienated in a hybrid arrangement. However, if you take proactive steps to encourage belonging, you can create a workplace that welcomes employees from all locations.
According to the Deloitte 2021 Return to Workplaces Survey, maintaining company culture was the biggest concern for surveyed organizations returning employees to work. To foster a culture where all employees can belong, look for opportunities for employees to come together. Employee resource groups (ERGs), hybrid training sessions, offsites, and other team events build connections among employees, regardless of their location.
Measure your progress
While a hybrid arrangement may be a happy medium between all-remote and all-WFH arrangements, it is not a panacea. Over time, you will need to look for new ways to support evolving employee needs and help them stay connected.
To understand how well the hybrid model is working, use a combination of informal discussions, team meetings, and pulse surveys to learn what employees need to thrive. For example, some employee feedback may indicate a growing need for shared collaboration spaces instead of individual offices and cubicles. The feedback may also reveal that entry-level and new hires need more in-person experiences, but more tenured employees prefer a hybrid schedule.
Like all new things, the hybrid workplace is likely to undergo many changes. By taking regular temperature checks to see what works best in your organization, you can build an environment where employees can do their best work.