With the pandemic on a decline, we’re once again facing something unknown. The hybrid workplace model is being implemented in more and more companies. But what is it? And how to approach it?
In the pre-pandemic times, the majority of the workforce worked directly from the office and there wasn't much debate about what type of workplace is the best one. Then COVID-19 appeared and everything suddenly changed. We said goodbye to the offices for an unknown period of time and had to immediately adjust to the new working conditions.
That's why we prepared this article for you so you can find all the information you need in one place. Besides, there's a checklist waiting for you below that you can use as a practical tool guiding you when implementing the hybrid workplace at your company.
What is the hybrid workplace model?
So, what's the hybrid workplace model then? In a nutshell, the hybrid workplace model is a combination of remote and in-office working. In this type of workplace, the employees have the freedom to choose if they want to work from the office or remotely. This gives them the opportunity to maximize their productivity levels.
Of course, this type of work isn’t suitable for every company, but if you work in an industry where your team mostly works on computers, you should seriously consider giving it a try.
2 reasons why should you consider this model
1. The productivity level will increase
First and foremost, everyone works differently and that’s also true for the place where people can focus the best. Some work better from home and some need the office environment to thrive. With the implementation of the hybrid workplace, everyone would choose what suits them the best, and this way, the productivity level will increase.
2. Happier and more satisfied employees
Another reason is that when employees are given bigger flexibility in their decisions and freedom over their choices, they’ll be much happier and more satisfied. Therefore, this may lead to better levels of productivity and motivation when it comes to their work.
And you as a manager will have an easier time leading such a team of people. When there’s motivation and determination, it’s a greater pleasure to work together.
The benefits of implementing the model
Consider implementing the hybrid workplace model to make the transition from working remotely easier for your employees. We’ve been in the pandemic for about two years and kind of got used to working from home. For some, it may be a bit of a shock to suddenly go all-in back to the office. The hybrid workplace would be a perfect solution to make things smoother.
Lastly, for you as a leader, this type of workplace saves you space at the office and cuts down certain expanses. This way, you can allocate your finances to other places and increase the overall performance.
Risks and challenges
Everything comes at a price and of course, nothing is 100% perfect. The same goes for the implementation of the hybrid workplace as it comes with certain risks or possible challenges.
Firstly, misunderstandings in communication may happen. Therefore, it is extremely important to communicate things clearly, be open and transparent, and most importantly 100% honest.
Secondly, be aware of properly immersing new employees in the company culture, so they understand the values, and the environment and don’t feel socially excluded.
Thirdly, before going into all of this, consider all the possibilities of which type of hybrid workplace suits your company best and what’s the best way how to align your teams with it. The last thing you want is your employees to feel being treated unequally. Yes, clear communication and expectation settings are crucial in this.
Lastly, with any opportunity comes risk. In this case a security risk or a cyber-security risk. So, it is vital for you to inform your employees about all the possible risks that may come up and educate them about how they can be eradicated.
How to successfully implement this model
Now that you know what are the benefits and challenges linked to this type of workplace, it’s time to give you some tips on how to successfully implement it.
Before you decide on anything, it is extremely important to think about this whole process and consider all of its options.
Are you going to implement this model for all the employees or just for a certain percentage of them?
How many hours per week are your employees going to work remotely?
Will there be teams of people on rotation?
All of these questions and many more are important to ask yourself before diving into anything.
Let’s say that you’ve already thought it through and have a clear plan on how will your new workplace structure look like. Now it’s time to communicate this message to your employees and to make sure that everything is clear and understood. For this, the vital thing is setting crystal clear expectations, so everyone’s on the same boat. There’s nothing worse than having an unpleasant surprise later on when the expectations are not matched with reality. Just make sure to go through every single detail and actively engage in a discussion.
When all the expectations are clear, it is time to make a workplace policy or some kind of set of rules that everyone understands and follows, so both sides know what to expect. This may involve the number of hours working remotely, the type of tasks that will be done in-office and at home, the amount of flexibility that the employee has with choosing when to work, and so on. It is just important to go through it all and to agree on every point.
Choose the right collaboration tools
Now that everyone is aware of what’s awaiting them, it is also necessary to have the right tools to work with. What type of project management and tracking system are you going to use? Are meetings going to be in-person or on some platforms like MS Teams or Zoom? Do you plan on using Slack or some other tool for communication within the teams? Before starting the hybrid workplace, make sure that you have all the necessary tools available.
Relations is key
After everything is ready to be used, it’s now your job to make sure everything’s running smoothly. Try encouraging your employees to communicate and collaborate with each other. Relations between your employees are important and the same goes for the relationship between you as their manager and your employees.
Please, don’t micromanage every single task, and trust your employees. With a proper introduction, expectation setting, and training, there shouldn’t be any necessity for micro-management, because your employees already know what to do. Of course, you’re still the person in charge of managing the whole team, but giving them independence can be beneficial for both you and them.
The ultimate hybrid workplace checklist:
Evaluate your current workplace model
Do a survey to align expectations
Consider different types of workplace model
Involve employees in the decision process and ask for feedback
Questions to ask yourself and your employees:
What type of hybrid workplace are you going to implement?
Which activities are suited just for in-office work?
Which activities are suited for remote working?
How many days/which days should you have remote working?
How many days/which days should you have in-office working?
Should all the meetings be in person?
How do you handle the cultural aspects of your organization?
Maintaining company culture:
Happy hours - during in-office working
In-office space for communication and socializing
Equipment for a well-equipped home office:
High-speed internet connection
Monitor or a webcam
Comfortable office chair
Access to company data and system
A messaging platform
A video-call platform
Cloud-based storage space
Integration of existing company tools with team communication platforms like Slack or Outlook
Give proper training/ education about the new collaboration tools to your employees
Legal aspects to consider:
Reimbursement of your employees for home-office equipment
Reimbursement of your employees for travel expenses
What types of insurance you’ll need
Safety compliance of working from home
Use strong passwords and a password manager
Secure your home Wi-fi and don’t connect to unknown networks
Lock your device
Install regular updates
Get an antivirus software
Be aware of scams and phishing
To wrap this up, the hybrid workplace is becoming more and more popular and its implementation is becoming more common. For you, as a manager, this type comes with a number of benefits as well as certain challenges that now you know how to tackle.
Now you're ready to embrace the change and implement what you’ve just learned.