We don’t need to tell you twice: hybrid working is here to stay! Endless amounts of research conducted since 2020 shows us that we’ve tasted better ways of working and we don’t want to go back.
But hybrid-working models demand new policies and procedures—and there’s an ocean of things to consider before creating a hybrid-working model that works for everyone.
When you have some people working from the office, others working entirely remotely and some doing a combination of both, you run the risk of creating an “us versus them” mentality—which can create lots of new challenges without the right policies and procedures in place to manage it effectively.
And—surprise, surprise—HR sits right at the heart of all decisions made. So many HR practices are challenged by hybrid working: wellbeing, inclusion, collaboration, engagement, learning and development, performance management… all of the above (and more!) needs to be taken into account in your new hybrid-working model.
So, to help you kickstart new ways of working that work for your organisation, we’re bringing you eight ideas and strategies to factor into your hybrid-working model and get better prepared for the future of work.
Things to consider in your hybrid-working model
There’s no one way to do hybrid working right. Any successful hybrid-working model will be unique to the needs of your organisation and your people; enter people-first decision making!
And since decisions need to be driven by the needs of employees, the best way to gather the insights you need to create a model that boosts engagement, wellbeing and productivity is to listen to their feedback.
So, for each of our eight hybrid working considerations, make sure to take note of our employee feedback top tips! Let’s kick things off with wellbeing…
Since the beginning of the pandemic so many new personal and professional challenges have had an impact on how most of us are feeling—and put wellbeing centre stage. Social isolation, furloughing, loss, working on the frontline… the list really does go on, and those experiences and how they affect us have been different for everyone.
The reality of remote working (partially or otherwise!) is that the lines between work and home become blurred, often leading to longer working hours, less real interaction and an added sprinkling of employee burnout. So here are a few things to consider when building your new hybrid-working model:
1. Map out work-life balance guidelines
We’ve heard from plenty of remote workers who envy their on-site counterparts who get to leave their workplace at the end of day, simply leaving work at work. Your hybrid-working model is the perfect opportunity to outline your commitment to work-life balance with new guidelines.
It’s just as important to outline expectations for remote workers; if you spotted someone working late in the office every night, you’d say something, right? Always-on concerns have been huge during lockdown, and many people simply don’t know how to disconnect. So, it’s time to review and ramp up your work-life balance support!
🔥 Employee feedback top tip
Figure out exactly how people feel about their work-life balance while working remotely with a simple employee survey question:
2. Help managers have better wellbeing conversations
It’s time we equip our managers with the skills and knowledge they need to have effective conversations around mental health and wellbeing; only 30% of managers have received training to do so, and feeling like managers are ill-equipped is one of the many reasons people choose not to speak up.
Those conversations become more important than ever in a hybrid setting. It’s so much harder to pick up on the social and behavioural cues of someone who’s struggling, so part of setting up your hybrid-working model needs to include a focus on how to better manage wellbeing remotely.
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So many inequalities have come closer to the surface as a result of the pandemic and that’s something we absolutely cannot ignore. We’ve all been impacted in one way or another, but some more than others. The best starting point is to map out areas where there are inequalities before setting out plans to address them.
We need to create a sense of belonging and connection across hybrid teams, combatting the “us versus them” mentality that we mentioned earlier. People who choose more flexible ways of working—from remote work to flexible hours—must not be overlooked for their more visible, in-office counterparts.
The impact on inclusion can come from the smallest of practices, so here are a few things to consider for your hybrid-working model:
3. Create equal meeting experiences
If there is even one person joining your meeting remotely, everyone should join online by default. Everyone needs to have the same meeting experience.
If you have a few people together in one location while others are working remotely, try to avoid those face-to-face people joining a meeting together. You run the risk of creating ‘presence disparity’, where remote people don’t feel like they’re able to make a positive contribution to the meeting. It’s the perfect cocktail for damaging collaboration!
🔥 Employee feedback top tip
Always-on feedback channels give people the opportunity to voice their ideas and concerns outside of your usual surveys, so make sure you give people the option to speak up whenever they want.
Channels like Open Door, our always-on feedback tool, gives people a confidential way to speak up and provides a direct line to senior leaders:
4. Choose technology that encourages a sense of community
The right technology can make or break your long-term hybrid-working model! It’s absolutely vital to have the right communication and collaboration tools in place to reduce the feeling of separation between remote and office.
You should consider some guidelines for how technology is used, too. Whether that’s outlining some online meeting etiquette or how best to approach internal conversations through emails and comms channels, some general rules around your tech will help everyone work together in harmony.
🔥 Employee feedback top tip:
Get a sense of how connected people feel while working remotely with a simple survey question; if the overall response is low, you know you need to implement some new solutions! You could even open the question up to comments to let people make specific suggestions:
5. Offer flexibility where remote isn’t possible
Hybrid-working models shine a light on office-based employees and what that means for them, but the reality for many organisations is balancing the needs of three types of workers: office, remote, and site-based (like construction, care, and everything in between).
There are some roles that just can’t be done remotely, but we need to be careful not to put so much focus into desk-based roles that site-based roles don’t see any flexible-working benefits, so make sure to weigh up your flexible-working options for your on-site employees and make sure everyone is getting fair treatment!
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Hybrid working changes the nature of work not just by location, but how jobs are structured and how tasks are completed.
Plus, the reality is that a lot of managers won’t have managed hybrid teams before the pandemic and they’re going through as much of an adjustment period as the organisation is. We need to make sure performance-management skills are up to scratch and managers are adapting to new ways of working. Here are a few ways to do that:
6. Map out how and where tasks can be performed
One of the first things you need to focus on is how your office and on-site spaces are going to be used. There will always be an organisational expectation around how and when people use the office, so to get started, try to map out answers to questions like:
- Will people be required to do a set number of days in the office?
- Will your workforce include fully remote employees?
- Will people have full flexibility to use the office as and when they want?
Those answers will fully depend on the nature of your organisation and the type of tasks your people need to complete.
🔥 Employee feedback top tip:
Before implementing your hybrid-working model, a great starting point is understanding how your people would like to use their office workspace; this will vary depending on the needs and tasks of different roles, so a quick survey question will give you a clear picture of people’s working preferences:
7. Reward performance based on tasks and output
Research shows that 64% of managers are more likely to give office-based employees a higher raise than remote workers because they see them as higher-performers; that’s just not okay!
We need to make sure that managers shift their focus to tasks and pay attention to the work that is being completed by their teams, rather than those who are simply present in the workplace. Then, of course, take a look at your reward and recognition programmes to make sure they align with your new performance expectations.
🔥 Employee feedback top tip:
To create new workspaces and solutions that help your people work better together, start by outlining all of the various tasks that people need to do their jobs effectively.
To get a clearer picture of day-to-day tasks, consider a survey question that lets people map out typical activities in their role:
8. Create new learning and development programs
A huge trend we’ve seen since the world moved to remote working is that learning and development has firmly taken a back seat. We’re in meetings back-to-back, we’re starting early and finishing late—meaning there’s less time for reflection, learning and mentoring.
Revisit what your learning and development strategies look like with dispersed teams and revamp existing training to make sure they’re suitable for remote learning. As an example, if it was very reliant on mentoring from line managers and leaders pre-pandemic, how do we make that process effective when remote?
🔥 Employee feedback top tip:
Make sure to segment your employee feedback data to see where feelings differ between locations and working arrangements to help you better understand which areas need a little more focus.
There are a few ways you can do that with Hive! Here’s a quick example of a heatmap customised by department:
Ready, set, survey!
Always start by taking a baseline measure of your organisation right now with an employee survey, aligning your questions with what you want to achieve with your hybrid-working model and what “good” looks like for your organisation long-term.
Pay attention to your lower-scoring areas right now so you know where to target your focus and action planning first. Use your initial survey or any older data (pre-pandemic) as your own internal benchmark to improve against, then keep measuring, keep actioning and keep improving!
Finally (and most importantly!), only ask survey questions if you are in the position to act on them. If you can’t alter your working environment, or you don’t have the budget to invest in new tech, then don’t ask those questions; your employees may become disheartened and disengaged if nothing happens as a result of their feedback.
If you’re ready to make people-first decisions and inform your hybrid-working model with employee insights, we’re here to help with that! Book a quick chat with our team to find out more about our employee voice platform and People Science partnership.
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