Have you ever wondered what work will be like in the future? The kind of work when each member of the company works from wherever he/she is, and offices play the role of providing spaces for creativity, important meetings and relaxation? Many companies have already implemented this working model a few years ago, before the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.
This model, known as hybrid work, is composed of remote workers and those who carry out their activities within the office. A hybrid office is characterized by offering flexibility for its employees, which is why it is so beneficial to implement it strategically. We prepared some tips to make the implementation of this model in your office a success.
- Strategies that work at Spotify, Microsoft or Apple may not work at your company.
- A company’s culture and sense of ownership are what often sustain and motivate workers and leaders to perform successfully within the work environment.
- The companies that have had the highest levels of productivity are those that encourage communication among colleagues.
Hybrid office: how to implement it successfully and what mistakes to avoid
What is a hybrid office?
Although remote work has brought several disadvantages that you have probably figured out for yourself, it has also led many employers to discover that working at home is not really something that brings a lot of problems to the bottom line of individual work productivity.
This has led to an analysis of the possibility of creating a model that takes advantage of the best of each work mode. Now, what exactly is a hybrid office? The hybrid work model is a system that incorporates a mix of in-office and remote work within the same company (1).
Everything you need to know before implementing the hybrid method in the office
We believe that the way hybrid work is implemented is crucial to its success. There are fundamental points that you should take into account. In the following table, we describe some of them.
|What you should do||What not to do|
|Set guidelines and advice before implementing the system.||Establish the same general rules for all areas of the company.|
|Encourage communication and a transparent work environment.||Do not include all team members in the activities.|
|Investing in training workshops.||Not paying attention to the necessary tools for workers.|
|Working by objectives.||Rushing to make changes.|
9 key tips for creating a successful hybrid work environment
Below, we suggest a couple of tips that will undoubtedly help you when implementing a hybrid office. We have tried to cover all aspects so that you can clear up any doubts you may have.
1. Determine the policies and guidelines from day one
For some of the company’s tasks, it will be necessary to formally develop processes to adapt them to the remote mode. This way, you will be able to identify which processes need an adjustment of rules and policies, it is important to modify them before implementing the hybrid work method.
On the other hand, policies should be adjusted to include all employees in general, for example, on who should pay for telephony and broadband expenses (2). Clearly, developing new policies is feasible, especially once you have a clear plan for implementing hybrid corporate offices. Some points to consider are the following:
- Setting communication channels for each type of information.
- Defining extra income or benefits.
- Establishing work schedules.
2. Communication is essential
For the implementation of this work model, it is important to establish communication routines, and for information to flow naturally. It is essential to promote spaces for relaxed conversation in which workers feel comfortable (6).
The idea of these spaces is that informal conversations are not lost. Leaders could innovate, for example, by leaving a free moment in the agenda for relaxed communication among colleagues. It is also possible to implement coffee rooms and virtual social events.
By offering employees to participate in these spaces, you will make them feel listened to and closer to their leaders and colleagues (6).
3. Conduct training workshops
Along with the change in working methods, the processes of certain tasks will also be modified. This indirectly requires employees to strengthen their skills and even learn new ones.
With this, we understand that employees are eager to improve different work capabilities. This is why it is important to include training workshops. In addition, the business world is constantly evolving, and so are the tasks and processes performed within companies.
According to a survey developed by Adecco Group, the most important skills to improve for workers when experiencing a hybrid work model are the following (3):
|Learning about company systems||important to 65% of workers|
|Managing remote equipment||important for 65% of employees|
|Soft skills||important for 63% of employees|
|Creative thinking||important for 55% of workers|
4. Invest in the necessary tools
In order to comply with the previous point, which highlights the importance of conducting training workshops, it is essential to invest as a company in the necessary technological tools for the general and professional well-being of the employee.
Some areas to consider within this field are the following:
- Cybersecurity: this is a challenge for companies, perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the company during the implementation process. In a survey of IT workers, in response to whether the benefits of the job outweigh the risks, 90% of respondents stated that, as remote workers, they represent a security risk in general (6).
- Technology: sufficient distribution of technological support for the use of the corporate system and new software implemented in the remote modality is fundamental (4).
- Well-being: the employee’s experience definitely benefits from work flexibility. Additionally, this type of work can be easily adapted to the needs of different worker profiles (6).
5. Decide on the type of office layout
The implementation of a hybrid work model requires changes within corporate offices, they must be designed for the type of work that will be performed within them. They should necessarily include meeting rooms and relaxation spaces.
Marco Minervini, Organizational Design Researcher at INSEAD Business School, states that there is a need to break the chain of synchronization, this means that workers should not necessarily work at the same time and at the same pace. Of course, outside of specific activities that do require it.
According to the researcher, offices will be used only for decisive meetings, individual work and two-person meetings. This will lead to the creation of spaces for large and two-person meetings, as well as spaces to relax and rest the mind from digital work.
6. Set clear expectations
For example, the decision to work remotely or in the office most of the time may be solely up to the employee.
However, if the company mandates a mandatory week of in-office work, leaders must communicate these decisions and make them clear to employees from the start.
In addition, it is very important that when deciding to work by objectives, for example, rather than by schedules. Expectations regarding these objectives are established in a clear and understandable way for both parties.
7. Aim to maintain the company’s culture
A company’s culture and sense of ownership are what often sustain and motivate workers and leaders to perform successfully within the work environment. The implementation of the hybrid system and the emergence of two cultures (remote environment and working in the office), often allow this sense of ownership to weaken.
Such problems can be avoided by supporting teams, including employees working remotely. It is also important to organize inclusive experiences that build trust between teams. This is a key strategy for hybrid virtual culture.
8. Decide on roles in the workplace
As norms change to a fully hybrid work model, roles are likely to change accordingly. It is important to re-analyze processes and roles, so as to give due importance to those that are indispensable to the functioning of the hybrid model.
For this aspect, it is key to keep in mind that the more the employee works individually, the easier it will be to adapt this task to the hybrid model (5). The best way to obtain greater productivity on the part of the workers is to create the same teams that were formed within the office. This will help the team to feel confident and therefore have a higher performance.
It is to be expected that the number of people working within an area will increase or decrease. The following chart indicates which type of workers have needed a role change when adapting to a hybrid system.
9. Work towards goals
This is one of the most important points when choosing a hybrid work model. Deciding to work remotely makes it easier for workers to know the goal to be achieved for being well valued. It is essential to implement time objectives (6).
In addition, focusing on quality results will help to give more freedom and confidence to employees. The confidence in the personal trust of each worker will be increased by meeting goals and objectives (6).
Mistakes you should avoid when creating a hybrid work model
In addition to including tips to improve the approach to a good hybrid work model implementation, we add a couple of common mistakes that you should preferably avoid to make your hybrid office work perfectly.
Implementing a one-size-fits-all approach
Within the hybrid model, blanket rules for all areas do not tend to work well. The idea is that each area should work according to its needs. However, the quality, requirements and values are the same throughout the company.
Likewise, the strategies that work in Spotify, Microsoft or Apple, may not work in your company. Knowing this can help your hybrid work method strategy to be specific and efficient.
Not relying on the team
There are many ways to control the work of remote employees, for example: time records or the fulfilment of objectives and goals. However, it is imperative that leaders support a culture of trust, in which workers can be autonomous in terms of work schedules (6).
During the pandemic, workers earned the trust of employees, and this should continue to be the case in the world of hybrid work. This could be enriched by the practice of listening to employees’ needs, as well as being attuned to their varying perspectives and expectations. A good way to communicate with employees is through Slack or Microsoft teams tools.
Not investing in training tools
After the last few years, in which we were forced to include the use of technology in our work life, we realized that these tools bring many benefits. To use them within companies, we need trained employees to use them.
That is why workers are increasingly eager to be trained in the use of new technologies. The most competitive companies will be those that adopt a continuous learning process for employees, instead of waiting for their skills to be kept up to date by them (3).
Rushing to make changes
When implementing a new model in the company, it is normal that mistakes can occur. Therefore, it is not necessary to make final decisions in haste. It is important to recognize the processes and measures that are working, and to learn to distinguish what is urgent from what is important (6).
In addition, the world of hybrid work is completely new, and the idea of working hand in hand with technology can be very challenging for many workers, just as some others will feel more confident in the environment.
Lack of inclusion among team members
One of the most difficult situations to achieve and the one that creates the most challenges when implementing a hybrid work model in the company, is to make the inclusion of all team members the same for workers inside the office and for those who work remotely.
To prevent this from happening, it is valuable to listen to the opinions of employees, so that they can express their experiences and learn about the processes that have been successful and with which they have felt more comfortable (3).
Many times, virtual workers have problems participating in virtual meetings and feel excluded from the activity, for example. Statista has conducted a global survey on hybrid work issues by generation around the world, the results were as follows:
The future of hybrid work
As mentioned above, this method of working has been implemented by multinational companies for some years now, even before the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the current reality understands that, following the emergency situation caused by the pandemic, and analyzing the performance of remote workers.
After employees have worked for a long time remotely throughout the pandemic, it can be affirmed that this model maintains employee productivity, and on certain occasions even increases it. Consequently, it is safe to say that the world of work will never return to the ‘normalcy’ we were familiar with before the pandemic (3).
Undoubtedly, knowledge about the implementation of a hybrid work model is key if you are looking to achieve good results and have a good response from employees.
If you don’t skip the recommendations we have suggested, invest wisely in the necessary tools, and build a leadership team that cares about the well-being of the team, it is almost certain that this model will bring more benefits than challenges to your company.
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