Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index revealed that 73 percent of workers want flexible work options to continue even after everything returns to “normal.” At the same time, 67 percent want more in-person time with their teams.
These statistics show that hybrid work will define the workplace in the post-pandemic world. So while employers are preparing for a safe return to the traditional workplace, they must also think about how to incorporate remote work permanently, given its effectiveness in the past year or so.
With great planning, a hybrid work environment leads to lower operational costs, better talent recruitment, and higher employee engagement and retention.
But how do you start creating a hybrid work environment that results in these?
Hybrid Workplace, Defined
A hybrid workplace is one that offers both in-office and remote work options for employees.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, forcing many to work from home, remote work has already been a growing trend among startups. Data from the Pew Research Center states that 20% of employed adults worked from home all or most of the time before the pandemic.
The reason for remote work and hybrid workplaces lies in prioritizing employee productivity instead of attendance. As long as employees accomplish their tasks and meet individual goals, they can report to the office or work from the comfort of their homes.
When the pandemic hit, many employers were worried about the potential decline in productivity among their staff. However, study after study found that productivity has either remained stable or, as in many cases, actually risen.
To keep this up post-pandemic, employers must prepare their organizations for hybrid work.
Creating a Hybrid Workplace
There’s no “right” way to implement a hybrid work model since individual organizations have unique operational needs. But you can start on these foundations that are essential to every hybrid workplace:
Set policies that support hybrid work
One of the core characteristics of hybrid work models is giving employees the freedom to choose where and how they work. But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be policies in place they must follow to ensure productivity.
Some of the policies that must be set include:
How many days are hybrid workers required to go in-office? Are there only specific days they are allowed to report to the workplace? Will you allow fully remote employees? If so, will these remote employees be required to attend company events?
A part of this policy is also ensuring that remote, fully in-office, and hybrid workers receive equal benefits. When it comes down to it, they should be compensated based on their productivity, not the ability to come into the workplace.
2. Online hours
Are people working from home required to be online at certain hours? How about those in a different time zone?
It’s important to set these parameters since communication is key to a thriving hybrid workplace. But the differing work hours of employees can make communication difficult, so setting specific times where teams can meet and regroup may be beneficial.
Design the office for hybrid work
The office must be designed to address the needs of those working fully at the office and those who chose a hybrid schedule.
It can be as simple as moving single cubicles or desks out and replacing them with soft seating. You can also place dedicated desks, private spaces, and collaboration zones to accommodate all types of workers coming in at the office.
Equip employees with the right tools
In a hybrid workplace, employers must make sure that employees are set up to succeed while working from home. Those who come in to the office usually have all the resources they need, including computers, a steady internet connection, IT help, and a comfortable workstation.
Not everyone who prefers or needs to work from home has access to these. So, it’s important to provide these basic work necessities, at the very least.
In addition, communication software and technologies are something you need to provide remote employees with.
Cloud-based software like Microsoft Teams as a PBX, for example, has an array of features, including team messaging and calling, file sharing, and calendar syncing. This kind of software application makes it easy for employees to collaborate wherever and whenever.
Troubles hoot when faced with challenges
The pandemic significantly changed the workplace environment, so plenty of organizations are still adjusting. So if you find that something isn’t working, be flexible and don’t hesitate to change strategies.
One way to troubleshoot is to directly ask your employees what’s working for them and what isn’t. Then, use the insights you gain to implement new policies that address previous concerns and provide solutions that work.
From here, you can tweak your hybrid workplace model to suit your organization and its needs. With time and effort, you’ll see your hybrid workplace thrive in the post-pandemic world.