Many would agree that hybrid is the future of work. The goal being to combine the positives of both office and remote working, to find a balance that works well for your employees.
Getting your hybrid model right is key for the success of your organisation. We all know that people are an organisations most important assets, and talented people are going to want a hybrid model that best suits their working needs. A recent article in Forbes states – ‘Millions of workers plan to switch jobs in pursuit of a work-Life balance, growth opportunities, remote options and being treated with respect’. We can see from this how much emphasis is now being put on flexible working and the option to work remotely.
Those who do well with their hybrid model will better retain their current talent pool, as well as attracting staff who leave organisations who miss the mark. So having the right hybrid working guidelines is key, but who is going to be in charge of this?
A lot of organisations’ first reaction might be to put this responsibility onto HR staff, and whilst we can see the logic, we’d argue that’s possibly not the best route to go down. Making such a big decision that will impact every employee in an organisation really isn’t in the job description of a HR employee, and could cause some hostility towards HR from any employees who are unhappy with these decisions.
HR is supposed to be an ally for all employees, someone to turn to with issues or queries, creating hostility or mistrust towards them could be very damaging for your organisation.
The other option organisations might look to is to let managers decide what form of hybrid working is best for their team. Whilst this might have some merit, it could also cause problems for managers, and between different teams. If one manager decided they’re team can work remotely 4 days a week, where another wants staff in the office 3 days a week, this could be deemed unfair. Clear boundaries need to be set so no one will feel they aren’t being treated as well as another person in the business.
So what’s that answer? Decisions around hybrid working could have a huge impact on your business, so we believe they should come from as high up in the business as possible. Board members should be making these decisions and laying them out to employees in a clear way. Coming from a place of strong authority should reduce the push back from employees, by showing that all board members are fully behind these decisions.
By setting clear boundaries and being open with staff as to why these decisions have been made, people will be more likely to accept decisions, even if they aren’t completely happy with them. Having the same boundaries for everyone will eliminate the issue of unfair treatment, this does necessarily mean all staff with be doing the exact same office / remote split, but it should mean that the reason for the split is clear.
For example the guidelines might state that employees need to be in an office when performing certain tasks, such as group meetings, or that all teams must have a least one day in the office together, but can choose where to work for the other days.
There’s no one perfect answer to this, no right or wrong, however there are organisations who will succeed and those who may not. By setting out a bad or unfair hybrid model that makes many of your staff unhappy, you are likely to lose some of your talent to other organisations with better, more flexible hybrid working rules. By having a good hybrid model not only are you more likely to keep talent in your organisation, you will also be likely to attract more who are leaving other organisations.
Try to bear in mind that times have now changed for many. It used to be that people needed a good reason to work from home, now they need a good reason to come into the office. Many of your employees will know that they are capable of working from home with no drop in their productivity, they have adapted to home working, changed parts of their lives to fit it. So they will want to know why they must now return to an office space, spending time and money on travel, leaving the quiet and comfort of their home to sit in a communal space for x days a week.
In order to be sure these guidelines / boundaries aren’t arbitrary, decision makers should decide what they want to achieve from their hybrid working model, and work from there. They should be able to explain to all employees why decisions have been made, so no one feels like they are being forced to work in locations without a good reason.
When making any guidelines around hybrid make sure you include something around communication. For example, managers must have a check-in with all of their staff at least once a month. Hybrid will be a new way of working for many, and you need to be sure all staff members are being listen too, so performance can be tracked and if a person is struggling they can be helped.
In conclusion, our advice would be for board members to set the boundaries for hybrid working. These should be based on what will work best for the company to succeed and employees to be as happy as possible at work. Once made, these boundaries should be clearly communicated with all staff, with an explanation of why they are being put in place. These guidelines should aim to ensure all employees at an organisation are being well looked after, with an emphasis on continuous communication between managers, staff and team members.
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