Join so many other talented HR professionals by contributing to the HR Cloud blog.
To learn more, view our blog guidlines now.

The Future of Hybrid Offices: Practical Tips for Engagement

Sep 01, 2021
The Future of Hybrid Offices: Practical Tips for Engagement

 

HRC logo

Get a $5 Gift Card for Free!

Your time is valuable. Book (and attend) your demo of HR Cloud.
Request a Demo
gift card

The Technological Necessities of Hybrid Offices

In order to make the digital shift to remote or hybrid work arrangements, companies had to digitize their operations to support work from home. This involved learning and applying a whole suite of digital tools such as workforce management software, project management tools, and online document management. These tools are so important for the ever-evolving hybrid models of work because they help employers manage their already hectic daily schedules. Having an organized but flexible work environment improves employee engagement.

 

  • Workforce Management: Whether you have 5 or 500 employees working for you, managing a flexible work environment, especially if they are shift workers, will only be made easier using proper workforce management software. A good workforce management tool will be built for your specific industry and its solutions will thus be tailored

    • Digital strategies to look out for: If your company requires a lot of employee onboarding for each hire, pick a workforce management tool with a self-service employee onboarding module. For teams with shift workers, look for scheduling tools that streamline communication.

 

  • Project Management: Optimize your team’s workflow and keep everyone in the loop with project management platforms. Your team should have an easy way of tracking progress without having to meet face to face or hop on a video call.

    • Digital strategies to look out for: It is much easier to manage projects with a hybrid team when everyone can see who is responsible for each task, with checklists of steps completed. This will help you keep track of project timelines and identify any common blockers in the workflow.

  • File Management: There are many digital storage platforms available for your company to store documents and assets. The tricky part is sticking to a well-organized file management system. Even though storage platforms allow you to sort by folders that you can name and color, a lack of communication can lead to duplicating folders and files. File management still falls upon team leaders to organize.

    • Digital strategies to look out for: Create a file management master document explaining how each department’s digital assets are organized. The most important part of having an organized file management system is ensuring that everyone understands where to put new files. This master document must be updated regularly, and everybody on the team that uses digital storage must be acquainted with it.

Why Hybrid Offices Will Survive

  • In the future, it will be common for tech companies to function with remote teams. With the rise of HR tech and employee scheduling software, managing hybrid models of work is easier than ever. However, having the option to go into a physical office space will become an HR strategy for employee engagement. Remote and flexible work has paved the path for many innovative and engaging virtual meeting spaces. As the world becomes more connected through digital spaces, the novelty will become the physical. Even a fully remote workplace may host physical events and pop-up offices to engage their employees.

    Here are some examples of engaging office spaces that will have workers insisting on keeping their physical workplace. We also included more affordable versions that you can try with your hybrid office since not everyone has Google’s budget. Here’s how to get your team excited to get back to the office.

     

    • Change of scenery: Microsoft has an office with a treehouse so that employees can enjoy nature during their meetings.

      • Affordable version: Engage employees with regular team socials where you walk to the park or have nature retreats. If there is enough interest, you can even organize a team gardening project.

    • Social areas: Google campuses engage employees with areas for play and socializing, from mini-golf courses to fridges on every floor. 

      • Affordable version: Choose a day of the week to offer free breakfast or lunch to any team members that are in the office. You can also invest in table tennis or a board game nook where team members can play together.

    • Workout at work: Apple campuses have fitness centers with gyms, changing rooms, and showers.

      • Affordable version: Offer team members gym memberships to a fitness center near your office. Alternatively, you can have communal dumbbells and yoga mats at the office for workers to use. 

     

    These office spaces are sure to make employees feel excited to come in and build upon your company culture. When onboarding new team members, you can definitely show off the many highlights of your office and employee engagement opportunities.

How to make a Personable Remote Onboarding Experience

Even if not every employee will be coming into the office, you can still create an inclusive, personable onboarding experience. This is an important start to remote employee engagement and establishing your company culture. Onboarding is all about getting new employees acquainted with team members, workflow, and the work environment. Personalize the experience so that even a remote onboarding experience includes elements of what team members experience in person. The easiest way is to visualize the people, space, and workflow. 

  • Update your team photos: Even though your new employee will meet everyone through video calls, face to face, it can still be hard to put so many faces to new names. Help new employees feel more confident by getting them acquainted with an updated chart of departments with photos of every team member. 

    • Pro Tip: Remind your whole team to use an updated photo of themselves as their profile picture on Slack. The same applies to their profile picture on whichever video calling platform your team uses. That way, even if cameras are off, everyone’s faces are still seen.

  • Create an office highlights slideshow: Show off the best parts of your office, including any social areas, artworks, or memorable places. Including photos of the office can encourage remote workers to come in for any team events and reap the full experience of a hybrid office.

    • Pro Tip: As part of the onboarding package, include photos of team socials and other events that took place in and out of the office. This can make the people that make up your team feel more personable, even for remote workers separated by a screen.

  • Get employee quotes and feedback: An important part of onboarding in any workplace, a hybrid model or not, is to ensure team members are set up for success. It is crucial to continuously update and improve onboarding by getting feedback from new team members and their team leads. Once you implement this feedback, it adds an extra touch to your onboarding to show new members where the feedback came from.

    • Pro Tip: Encourage new team members to ask questions. They should be given a mentor to have one-on-ones with in order to track progress and any feedback on both sides.

How to Continuously Engage Remote Employees in Hybrid Offices

During this pandemic, more team members have been working from home than ever before, skipping long commute times. As offices open up, a large portion of your team may continue to work remotely while others come into the office. We’ve already listed great benefits to having an in-person office space, but your remote employee engagement needs to be strong as well. Here are some ways to motivate both remote and in-person employees with workplace gamification that will improve your company culture.

  • Leaderboards to encourage stronger performance: Leaderboards are popular with sales teams, but they can also be a remote employee engagement strategy for any team. Even for smaller teams that don’t compete with each other, you can turn different projects or tasks into points and give weekly updates on completion. Make your employees feel excited to raise their performance level even while they work from home!

    • Alternative: Fundraising thermometers can also encourage everyone on the team to work towards a goal. Set a goal for a quarter, and once your team completes it, organize a celebration! You can consider rewarding bonuses or an all-inclusive team retreat.

  • Annual prizes to build retention: Employees that are most likely to stay with your company are either in the first year of employment or veterans who have been employed five years or more. For everyone in between, make sure you have perks to engage remote employees and ensure they stay. A good example is company-sponsored upskilling after a year of employment. This is a win-win because you are helping your employees improve their skills, which they can then use at their job.

    • Alternative: Free services and gifts are other great ways to make celebrating employees a part of your company culture. For example, every year, an employee may receive a present based on their seniority. An affordable idea can be a giant balloon with the number of years they’ve been at your company. You can also give practical benefits like discounts for gyms or company-sponsored trips every year.

  • Game-like virtual environments for connection: The best way to foster creative collaboration is to get everyone in the same room, even if it’s in a virtual space. Mozilla hubs is an example of an open-source virtual environment where you can choose from a variety of game-like environments, including an office on a spaceship with different meeting rooms. Another free app is Mibo, which is created for team building and beer o’clock. This remote employee engagement platform consists of a virtual island with a stage for company announcements and a tavern for drinks. It’s the perfect place to celebrate employees of the month and other great accomplishments from your team.

    • Alternative: Set a day a month to take suggestions from the team and try out different platforms. The future of work is rapidly changing, with new and exciting ways to connect. Your own team may know of more innovative ways to engage one another! Creating rituals is a great way to support your company culture.


If you want to future-proof your workplace, technology is your friend. Artificial intelligence and automation can help you collect employee data and measure remote employee engagement. As your team spends more years in a hybrid office, you will be able to boost engagement by experimenting with different strategies. From VR meeting spaces to blended learning, the opportunities for remote employee engagement are endless. The future of hybrid offices will put people first, and you as an HR manager will be at the forefront of that. Work from home and hybrid models are here to stay!

About Author: Jaqui is a content creator at Hyre, an HR tech company that specializes in employee scheduling software and temp staffing solutions. She has been published in Macleans and specializes in writing stories that humanize technology and social impact.