Even as things start getting back to normal post-COVID, many employees don’t want to return to the office full time. Working from home offers a number of benefits, including more flexibility, less time and money spent on commuting, and a better work-life balance. And while there are some occasions where face-to-face interactions are beneficial, most businesses can work just as well if their team is working remotely at least some of the time.
If your employees are asking for a hybrid way of working, with time split between working at home and in the office, these are some of the ways you can support them.
Why offer hybrid working?
Although millions of people were forced to abruptly switch to remote working during the pandemic, most have adapted well to the change. In most businesses, remote teams have been just as productive if not more so when they’ve been away from the office. And working from home offers a number of benefits that are really important to employees — it offers more flexibility, less time and money spent on commuting, and a better work-life balance.
However, there are occasions such as some meetings and training sessions where face-to-face interactions will work better. And some employees want to work in the office at least some of the time to connect with the rest of the team and benefit from ad hoc conversations and ideas that might get bounced around in the workplace.
Hybrid work models offer the best of both worlds — employees that feel more productive at home or need more flexibility can work remotely most of the time. But you can also offer office spaces for team meetings and any employees that enjoy working in the office. It also means that your business can save money on a large office space that accommodates all of your team members every day, and you can increase employee satisfaction.
How to help employees requesting hybrid working
Making the switch to a hybrid working schedule will take some adjustment for businesses and employees, but these are a few ways that you can make the transition easier.
It’s important to be completely clear about expectations when your employees are requesting a hybrid work arrangement. If it’s something that you can accommodate, you need to create a remote working policy that clarifies everything about when, where, and how your team should be working. This should include:
Any core working hours and number of hours per day/week
Expectations about when staff need to come into the office
How you’re scheduling in remote workers and in-office workers
How and when do staff need to book office space if you’re hot-desking
Security precautions for employees working remotely and traveling with equipment
Sickness and time-off procedures
Make sure your hybrid working policy is somewhere that everyone can access when they need to and covers everything that your employees expect it to.
Create a productive workspace
As a business, you need to ensure that your employees have a productive work environment both in the office and when they’re at home.
You may have to adapt your office space to meet the needs of your hybrid staff. For example, if they primarily come in for meetings and workshops then you need suitable spaces that won’t disturb the rest of your team. Depending on your teams, you may need quieter areas with individual desks where people can focus on work and some more collaborative space for people to work on projects together.
Home office spaces require as much investment and planning as the company office. So if your staff is requesting hybrid working then help them to set up a suitable space.
Provide all the equipment that they’ll need to do their work, and offer them support with bigger items like a suitable chair and a desk. Furniturebox, for instance, has plenty of affordable office furniture options, and you can also help them with finishing touches like some prints for the wall from somewhere like Desenio or a houseplant to make their office space feel more productive.
Focus on communication and collaboration
Hybrid work environments are only effective if you have the right tools and procedures in place to ensure clear communication and easy collaboration between remote and in-office workers. It needs to be easy for your team to be working at home one day and heading into the office the next and able to pick up where they left off.
There are plenty of tools and software that can help with hybrid working:
Cloud storage like Google Drive so that documents and files are accessible from anywhere
Instant messaging tools like Slack and video conferencing so that you team can keep in touch
Project management software to keep track of everyone’s workload and progress
Time tracking software to monitor how long different things take, particularly when your teamwork from home.
Set out procedures for using each system so that everyone is on the same page and they improve the way you work.
Look after employee wellbeing
If your team is distributed between home and the office, then it can be hard to tell when employees are struggling or disengaged and it can also impact company culture. So it’s important that employee wellbeing is a priority in your business.
Arrange regular check-ins with all of your employees such as a monthly one-to-one meeting. This shouldn’t be purely work-focused, but also a chance for you to catch up with them and understand how they are doing.
Put together some resources and support for hybrid working. For example, best practices for staying healthy while remote working, guidance on ensuring work-life balance, and who to reach out to if your employees need help.
You should also rethink your benefits to ensure that they’re appropriate for hybrid working — offer a flexible gym membership wherever your team is based and other benefits that are going to be valuable to employees who aren’t in the office full time. If you’re having fewer company-wide social events then arrange smaller ones in local areas.
Hybrid work options can be hugely beneficial to your business and your employees. But you need to have the right procedures and guidelines in place to ensure that you’re supporting your employees through the transition to hybrid working and going forward.
About Author: This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee engagement, and intranet software. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, employee productivity, and to save you valuable time!