There’s no doubt that the traditional in-office work model is changing. The COVID-19 pandemic revolutionized remote work and accelerated a slowly emerging trend: a hybrid work environment that allows employees to work part-time in the office and part-time at home.
When it comes to employee preferences and expectations, there is clear favor for hybrid, with 71% of workers in a recent survey saying they want a combination of remote and in-office working. While there is evidence that hybrid working improves work-life balance, retention, and company culture, it is not without its challenges.
Here are five tips for creating a successful hybrid work environment.
1. Create Community
One of the primary challenges of hybrid work is the reduced development of employee bonds and community. After all, when employees are in an office together every day, they will naturally talk, form bonds, and collaborate.
But in a hybrid environment, employees may be in the office at different times or on different days, and the sense of community can diminish. However, in-person interactions are not the only way to create community.
Social media has shown us just how powerful digital connections can be. To compensate for the weaknesses in hybrid work, you can embrace digital connection by creating interest groups, social chats, virtual social time, and more.
If feasible (and within your organization’s means), you can also plan a company-wide in-person gathering, whether at the office or off-site. This can be an excellent team-building opportunity where employees can see each other face-to-face and connect.
You can also take on a cause like supporting a charity or engaging in a volunteer day. Causes give employees a common shared goal outside of work that they can bond over. A sense of community is critical to employee satisfaction and can make the difference between a place people want to work and a place people leave.
2. Manage Time Effectively
It can be easy for various meetings to add up and workloads to get overwhelming, especially in a hybrid work environment where not everyone is on the same page. For this reason, coordination is a critical driver of productivity.
Try to schedule team-wide blocks so that employees can focus or recharge at the same time. If possible, encourage employees to choose common days to be present in the office. Overlapping schedules ensures that employees are getting the benefit of social interaction and collaboration on days they do commute to the office.
If you do implement office days, try to encourage employees to brainstorm, have weekly meetings, and engage in other opportunities for shared work. There’s no sense in bringing employees into the office to sit separately at desks all day.
3. Recognize and Utilize the Entire Team
It can be easy to assign big projects and give praise to employees you see in the office every day, but that’s not ultimately a good way to approach utilizing the team.
Each member should be utilized and recognized equally, regardless of their location. Take time to consider the distribution of work and make sure that employees who work from home more often are being given equal opportunity.
Thinking critically about how you utilize employees in this environment can also be a pillar in your diversity and inclusion strategy.
Just as importantly, take time to recognize the contributions of employees who are not in the office. Team-wide recognition can go a long way toward making remote employees feel like they are still valued members of the team.
4. Embrace Autonomy
Hybrid work environments don’t lend themselves to micromanagement and rigid processes. The best way to set up hybrid working is to set clear goals and expectations, then let your employees meet them as they see fit.
Embracing autonomy is also advantageous to the business, as studies show that increasing autonomy improves productivity.
Some industries can accommodate this model better than others, but you should always make an effort to give independence to your employees. Autonomy makes employees feel empowered and gives them confidence that they are able to work effectively in a hybrid environment.
5. Invest in Technology
The right technology can make a huge difference in a successful hybrid work environment. Employees should be able to seamlessly transition from in-office to at-home and communicate with their teammates with ease, no matter where they are.
Some technologies and tools that can contribute to a high-performing hybrid environment include:
Cloud working tools
Hybrid conference rooms
Video conferencing software
Virtual support tools
Workflow management tools
Goal tracking tools
Technologies enable employees to do their jobs more effectively and can help avoid unnecessary frustration and gaps in communication. They can also help employers better track progress and identify opportunities for improvement in workflows.
Your Hybrid Work Environment Can Be a Success
Your employees are counting on you not just to facilitate hybrid flexibility, but also to invest in making flexible work pleasant and rewarding. With a little effort and creativity, you can make your hybrid work environment even more successful than your old working model. With the right design, employees will be happier and businesses will see more success.