Welcome to the new working world. Hundreds of millions of people open their laptops each morning and tune in to the needs of their workplace. No more commutes, no more lengthy meetings, and perhaps, less office politics. The Hybrid Working model brings new opportunities for diversity, equality, and inclusion, a contemporary approach to HR management, and plenty of fresh considerations for the future.
In this article, we will consider how to take an existing Hybrid Working environment and make it better than ever!
Learning and Development
Providing learning and development opportunities to a hybrid workforce might seem more difficult at first, but the reality is that it offers more fluidity, flexibility, and transformative opportunities. New digital content formats and innovative training styles allow a business to embed new culture, empower the workplace and increase employee engagement overall. Here are some effective hybrid working L&D opportunities :
- Greater flexibility for those with different schedules, availability, and who might be in different time zones or locations
- Equal quality learning for all employees who can join via an internet connection
- Better engagement in virtual classrooms for a live participation group
- A new community can be built by bringing together remote and on-site staff into the same L&D exercises
The Hybrid Workplace Policy
For your new Hybrid Workplace movement to really take root, having a published and easily discoverable policy document for your team members to glance over is a great idea. Here’s how you can make the first working draft of the policy in just five easy steps:
- Assess the needs of the business and highlight which roles are best-suited to hybrid working. Consider performing a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to see how remote work and Hybrid Work might affect the organization
- Ask employees what they think and appeal to them for collaboration regarding the policy. A questionnaire, online survey, or personal meetings are good places to start and can be used to gently introduce the concept to those who aren’t familiar with Hybrid Work
- Schedule chats between managers and team members to talk about expectations, workload, and how any issues can be discussed. Failing to communicate the policy change makes it harder to apply
- Refer back to the SWOT or initial research, the feedback, and the issues raised, and see how this information affects other policies in the business and be sure to update them too
- Remind everyone affected by the policy that it is a working version that will be reviewed regularly, this will give them the confidence to voice any suggestions and keeps the business flexible in light of any government requirements or legal compliance issues that arise
Evolving Company Culture
Creating an effective hybrid working environment, to some extent, is down to how you pitch and present it to those who are most affected by it. To make sure it’s embraced, it should be seen as an evolution of company culture that benefits everyone and awards more trust and flexibility than were given before.
One way to present this change is by introducing the concept of ‘Hot Desking’, where the most hybrid-suitable employees no longer have a fixed desk, and instead, have a workspace they can come and use at any time when not working remotely. They might need to reserve spaces, but really this change incepts the idea that productive work is not linked to their desk, but to their relationship with their work.
The Hybrid Working environment has every opportunity to be more diverse, fair, and inclusive. When the ability to make the daily commute to the office is a requirement of the job, that alienates a lot of people, especially the physically disabled. When women are left with most of the responsibilities of parenting and need to get them to and from school each day, commuting to a 9 to 5 becomes complicated. When minority groups are pushed out of areas by gentrification and further away from the city, their location shouldn’t be a consideration, only their talent, and commitment.
An evolution in company culture should also be empathetic and concerned with fairness and equality in the workplace. This can be achieved through direct and honest communication with all staff. Here are a few important questions to answer:
- Will the contributions of office-based and home-based employees receive the same recognition?
- Will all employees have access to the same tools and resources regardless of working location?
- Are remote workers less likely to be considered for promotions or leadership roles?
- Will remote workers have access to quality working conditions, and is it a problem if they work from the comforts of their own living room?
- Are remote workers forced to adhere to a dress code?
- Are remote workers going to be given new and secure hardware to use, and is this fair on office-based staff using older devices?
The Right Tools For the Job
Adapting to a Hybrid Work model and creating a successful and effective working environment is never going to be as simple as simply telling a percentage of your staff that they can work from home now if they wish to. That’s the wrong approach. As we’ve explored above, communication, collaboration, and education are key in essentially every step of the transition. On top of this, we have to talk about technology.
Here are some hybrid-friendly tech tools:
- Project management: Asana, Trello, Milanote, Monday
- Internal communications: Slack, GoToMeeting, Flowdock, Microsoft Teams
- Customer Relationship Management (CRMs): Hubspot
- Video networking: Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype
- Applicant tracking: Pinpoint, Freshteam, Recruitee
- Email providers: Office 365, Gmail
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): ExpressVPN, Surfshark, NordVPN
- Document Sharing: Google Docs, Huddle
- Training: Linkedin Learning, Myskillcamp, Coursera, CentrX
- eLearning platform: Docebo, Looop, Code of Talent
- Onboarding: Typelane, Talmundo, Zenefits
- Performance management: Inspire, BetterWorks, eloomi
- Data security: Alert Logic, Armor Anywhere, Cloudvisory, Kaspersky
Leaders must treat the implementation phase as a learning curve
To finish this article, we’d like to reiterate that approaching and embedding the Hybrid Work model for the first time is going to be a huge learning curve. For businesses who were somewhat forced to try it during the pandemic and found that Hybrid Work was suitable, your job is now simply to refine your policy and keep your team happy. For companies that are beginning to embrace the remote work environment and the new age of productivity, the first few months are the hardest.
In this initial period, and beyond, it cannot be understated how important the role of leadership is. Transitioning into a hybrid working environment is not only courageous and difficult; it can also be a bit of a distraction from operations, ruffle a few feathers internally, and distress some clients. Great leaders will keep their teams focused, provide assurances to clients, and manage any office politics that arise as a result.
Conclusion: HR has a big task ahead
For HR leaders, it’s important to find the right way to analyze and report employee performance, to gain insight into which tools are popular and which need to be dropped, to understand when the most employees are online to aid collaboration, and much more. The first few months will involve a lot of chopping and changing, the next few months after that will involve some bolder decisions regarding personnel and structure, and after 6-12 months, you can hope to be on the straight and narrow, enjoying a successful hybrid working environment.
Good luck with your transition.
If you are looking for insights on how to improve employee engagement by bringing experiential learning into your new hybrid working environment, download our 2021 Leadership Development white paper or reach out to one of our consultants for expert advice.