3 Principles to Make the Best Hybrid Workforce

Team meeting in-office and online
When the pandemic began, companies were forced to have employees work from home with little time to prep or plan for this sudden change in work environment. Now, businesses have a better understanding of the pros and cons of working from home and are transitioning to a hybrid work model. This approach allows businesses to rebuild normalcy while reaping the benefits of working from home.

You could either set a new standard for the workplace or use this model as a buffer to get employees back to the office safely and efficiently. Either way, employers looking to implement a hybrid workforce should keep the following three principles in mind for the best outcome.

1. Know your employees.

When implementing a hybrid work schedule, it’s important to understand your employees’ current morale, schedule, and expectations for the future. For example, each generation of workers has responded differently to the sudden shift in work environment in 2020. Gen Z employees were the most adversely affected, with 36% reporting a negative impact on work-life balance, making them more skeptical toward their companies.

In contrast, over 50% of millennials and Gen X expressed significantly more trust and loyalty in their management. This generational difference is also found in a PwC study where 34% of Gen Z employees prefer choosing to work remote one day or less per week, while only 20% of all respondents would choose the same.

The study also found employers and employees have different ideas about the main purpose of the office space. Employees view the space as a place to collaborate and to use specialized equipment not available to them at home, and employers believe the office promotes productivity and corporate culture.

Younger employees lack the experience and confidence to navigate more turbulent situations without a more hands-on approach from management to guide them. They may require more face-to-face interactions to rebuild trust in employers. On the other hand, older generations seem more comfortable performing their duties remotely and only coming to the office for meetings. However, other factors such as children or an insufficient home office will also play a role in how long an employee will want to work remotely.

Consider your employees’ skills and preferences to craft the best hybrid schedule that reflects their individual needs.

2. Balance efficiency and innovation.

Many people work more efficiently at home than in the office. According to McKinsey research, over 40% of respondents say they’re more productive while working from home. Not to mention the average workday has increased by 8.2%, or 48.5 minutes, with the increase of emails sent after business hours and elimination of a daily commute.

To see how productive your employees are when working from home, pick a metric and track it. For example, if your employees take calls, use real-time alerts and call reports from a call management system to evaluate how your employees have been performing at home.

However, working from home limits the easy flow of ideas between team members. The lack of face-to-face interactions stunts a team’s ability to cultivate new ideas and solutions. Over 95% of respondents in a Xerox survey believe in-person communication is crucial for personal development and talent assessment.

Employees have already proved they can work from home efficiently, so focus on quality over quantity during their time in the office. Dedicate time and space for your team to talk and brainstorm together. Schedule team meetings to build trust and form positive relationships. Then use video conferencing to maintain those relationships remotely. Since fewer people are in the office at a time, consider rearranging the layout to encourage more collaboration and communication between employees. Make the office a garden for innovation and progress.

3. Preserve your company’s culture.

Company culture is key to building trust and familiarity with employees, but how can you maintain it while employees are split between working from home and in the office? The answer: consistency and communication.

Ask your employees questions: Do they have two monitors at home? Make sure they have two monitors in the office or vice versa. What schedules have they made for themselves? Do they answer emails in the morning and work on projects in the afternoon? Have meetings scheduled in the mornings and leave their afternoons free to work. Ensuring employees have access to the same work setup both in and out of office will make switching spaces easier.

Also, take the time to reimagine the interactions between in-office and remote employees. To prevent confusion, encourage detailed written communication so employees can properly convey their ideas and tone when they’re unable to talk face to face. To maintain your corporate culture with a hybrid workforce, you’ll have to break the barriers between employees in and out of office.

Having meetings where in-office employees are able to sit around a table to foster conversations while your remote employees are delegated to a video screen on the wall will no longer cut it. Create seamless in-person and remote collaboration spaces and working models to improve current remote communication options. This can include always-on videoconferencing or virtual whiteboards.

Bridge the gap between home and office with a comprehensive call management mobile app that makes the move to and from the office smooth as butter. Take advantage of intelligent call routing to automatically forward calls to your employees whether at home or in the office.

As more employees work in office, employers need to ensure they won’t fall into the trap of thinking out of sight, out of mind and allow remote workers to fall through the cracks. Maintain open communication, ensure easy feedback between in-office and remote employees, and take notes on participation.

Following these three basic principles will allow you to maintain positive relationships with employees and cultivate a new standard for your work environment.