Considerations for Navigating the Hybrid Work Model
A hybrid work model is a flexible workplace model that is designed to support a distributed workforce of both in-office and remote workers. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations have been forced to rethink the workplace at a much faster rate than before, although remote work isn’t a completely new idea. Virtual work has proven advantages when it comes to performance, engagement, and the bottom line, but at the same time there are many realized benefits of in-person interaction (such as inclusiveness, collaboration, and team bonding, to name a few). For many companies, combining both in-person and remote work will be a win-win, as it allows employee flexibility and promotes productivity and profitability. The hybrid work model is shaping the future of work – but it’s important to remember it may not be the right fit for everyone.
In this article, we discuss some considerations to take into account if you are considering a hybrid work model. Organizations have many factors to think about while navigating this new landscape, and we’re here to help you move through it with ease Let’s take a look at how to determine if a hybrid work model is right for you.
Bird’s Eye View
First, take a step back. Consider the big picture. Would your organization truly benefit from a hybrid work model or does it rely on the full team being together in person? Or maybe, it’s fully functional with everyone working remotely. Hybrid only works if it works for your team. People are forming strong opinions on the topic, but try to find the best approach for your unique situation and organization. We take the stance that there’s no one way to do anything.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
This goes for both organizations and employees. There is no single “hybrid work model” solution (or solution in general, for that matter) that can be applied to every company. The way each company mixes (or doesn’t mix) in-person and remote will be different. Each team and organization has its own unique demands and challenges, resulting in a need for custom approaches and solutions. Regardless of if your organization moves forward with a hybrid work model, is fully in the office, or fully remote, there will be a transition time period just like there was a transition to remote work.
And as for employees, never assume what they want; ask them. Not everyone will want the same thing when it comes to remote vs. hybrid vs. in-person work. Even for those that want a combination of working from home and coming into the office, some may want to come in 1-2 days/week, while others may prefer 3-4 days/week. A benefit of the last year was people had the opportunity to learn their unique work style, and what works best for them. Although virtual work was forced quickly and was difficult at times, employees were able to realize what they liked and disliked about remote vs. in-person work. Pain points were uncovered, but so were advantages. Consider surveying your team and giving them options – get to know their wants and needs, and establish a structure that’s best for the team and team members. An employee or team survey could include the below sample question to gauge hybridity interest (if your organization has physical office locations):
If given the choice, how/where would you work best this quarter? (We say quarterly here, as choices and lifestyles change, and surveying on a recurring basis can give better, more recent data for planning purposes)
- Remote First: Primarily working from home
- In-Office First: Primarily working from a physical office
- Something in between: Splitting time evenly between working from home and the office
Questions to Consider
Depending on employee and team feedback, there are some more questions the organizational leadership should consider to see if the hybrid work model is a good fit:
- How and/or where do individuals work best?
- Will employees return to in-person work part-time or full-time?
- How many offices will you have? Will there be multiple in-person offices and multiple remote?
If you determine the hybrid work model is the best solution for your team’s needs, there are some more operational questions to consider:
- Are certain days of the week in-person?
- How is the team split between in-person & virtual?
- ½ the team one week and the other ½ the next week?
- Are all employees required to be in person on certain days of the week?
And in asking these questions, always come back to your purpose. Why are you making these decisions in light of the work environment and outcomes you’re hoping for?
Prioritize Your People
Prioritizing people is one of the most important things to remember and consider while navigating a hybrid work model. People are your most valuable asset. Focusing on your team members and what they need to thrive is essential, especially in a hybrid environment. The benefits of a hybrid work model are allowing people to choose their work style and environment, based on how they work best and are most comfortable. If a hybrid work model is a good fit for your organization and team, you could offer your employees a choice of the above work style options from the survey (Remote First, In-Office First, Something in between).
Whatever your employees choose, they should be treated the same. Each employee should feel included and given the tools to succeed as long as it supports the larger purposes and vision of the organization. If the majority of employees decide to come into the physical office, make an effort to treat their remote counterparts as equals and engage them (there are many tools and practices to help with this).
For additional in-depth consideration of the hybrid work model, we put together this comprehensive Hybrid Work Guide that covers questions and topics like these, plus a lot more information on fostering hybrid work connection, creating equal opportunities for in-person and remote workers, hybrid policies + systems, and tools + processes for effective hybrid work collaboration. This Guide is a working guide that we will update as the hybrid landscape evolves. This is a journey we’re on together. If you have experiences, problems, or observations, we want to hear from you.
Here at Voltage Control, we are exercising and sharing the best tools and techniques needed for teams to thrive in the hybrid work model, through productive meetings (in-person and virtual), remote work team collaboration, considerations for return to work, facilitation skills, virtual events, meeting culture, Magical Meetings, and design sprints.