There are undeniable perks to working from home. These are perks that benefit both the employee and the employer, like cost savings, productivity boosts, and employee satisfaction. There are also perks to having your team on-site in the office. Here’s the good news: gone are the days where the choice of work environment is an either/or scenario. As our work lives begin to move out of pandemic-lock-down phase and closer to post-pandemic return, companies are leaning into a new hybrid model of work that allows their business and their people to reap the benefits of both approaches.
What Is It?
As with all new things, there are different flavors of hybrid work models. Some organizations use the label to indicate that some of their workforce is full-time remote staff and some are full-time on site staff. For others, however, the term means that employees may have the ability to divide their work time between remote and office environments. The latter option includes a sliding scale of options. Organizations may allow for a specific number of days a week that must be in person vs remote. Others may allow employees to determine when they work in a specific environment as long as the work is getting done. You may, as an example, decide that you work best at home and spend most of your work hours in your spare bedroom-turned-office. You head into the office for team meetings.
Understanding that the definition of a hybrid work model is not one-size-fits all, the first step to implementing this approach in your organization is to clearly define what you mean when you say it. Don’t leave room for ambiguity and confusion. If your leadership team has decided that hybrid means two days a week can be remote work days and the other three days need to be in the office, say so. If you’re open to letting each employee and manager sort out the schedule on a case by case basis, tell them that.
If you’ve ever worked in an environment where hard workers were identified by the number of hours they are seen putting into the job, working remotely may seem a little worrisome. Here’s the good news, quantity does not equal quality. Your ability to do your job well does not depend on how many hours you’re putting into it. Aside from clock watching, there’s the simple fact that being remote can also mean a lack of causal communication which can create an awareness gap in terms of your work progress. This is an easy challenge to overcome. First, as a leader, clearly define how success will be measured. This isn’t about punching a time clock. It’s about project milestones and goals. Create a plan for open communication that keeps teams connected and on the same page.
Consider the Spaces & Connections
From online work spaces like Slack and Microsoft Teams to communications platforms like Zoom and Discord, make sure your teams are comfortable working with the technology that allows geographically diverse teams to collaborate. Create onsite workspaces that are conducive to video calls and audio conferences. Don’t forget to include remote teams in impromptu meetings and brainstorming sessions.
Convert Your Perks
Raise a hand if you have ever looked forward to Bagel Fridays. Office perks that might have included cream cheese and lox or team lunches at an established interval can create an “us vs them'' dynamic between your on-site and at-home team members. Consider perks that transcend location. Perks like Door Dash gift cards, monetary incentives to join a local gym, and a surprise box of gourmet coffee and treats move beyond the desk in the office and reach employees wherever they are.
Who Owns the Tech?
Whether your organization has adopted a model that allows your teams to opt for full-time remote or a few days remote, there is a question about technology to sort out. When you’re connecting with a team member that’s working at home, what number are you using? Are they using an app that allows them to take and make calls from their business number on their own mobile device? Are you calling them on their personal number? Do they have a corporate laptop or tablet they are working on? Are they using their own personal computer at home and accessing business files and programs via the cloud? Be clear about what devices should be used for work. If employees are using their own devices, will you be offering an allowance or compensation to help cover a portion of the cost? Likewise, on the analog front, things like notebooks, pens, postage and other analog aspects of work should be defined too.