Post-pandemic, many employers don’t want to fully return their workforce to the office. However, they also find that keeping the team fully remote isn’t optimal for meeting their business needs. MP’s HR services team shares how to implement three hybrid work models that will optimize the employee experience and an organization’s ability to meet its business goals.
3 Office Hybrid Work Models
1. Office first hybrid work environments:
Employers that find supervising remote employees to be less advantageous frequently may prefer to allow hybrid remote work that focuses on the office. This model is advantageous for offices that want their employees to build deeper connections working side by side or perform routine on-site job duties. Another benefit is that newer employees or employees that are training for new duties will have an optimized learning experience by working on-site and being exposed to many facets of the organization (not just their own job duties).
In this model, employees must work in the office the majority of the time, with some allowances for remote work. This could be one or two days a week, one or two days a month, or even less frequently. Many employers prefer to keep employees on a schedule, so their time out of office is predictable. Some find that employees are happier when they have the freedom to choose when they will work remotely and to do it somewhat spontaneously.
Tips for success:
The first step is to ensure that employees know when their employers need them to be in the office. For instance, the business may need a skeleton crew working on-site every day of the week (and must schedule accordingly). Other examples include the employer needs client-facing employees in the office Monday through Thursday, or employees must schedule their meetings with clients in-office. Communicating scheduling expectations is imperative. The second key to success for this model is that employers should develop a telework policy. A clear telework policy helps ensure that everyone understands the expectations and requirements of remote work, reducing or eliminating surprises and miscommunications. (MP’s HR services team can assist with this task.) The telework policy should include clear expectations for:
- Handling resources like laptops and headsets
- Events like delivering work, meetings, or answering questions
- General hours or schedule
- Technology (hardware, a software program, etc.) and resources employees are expected to utilize for their job duties
A thorough telework policy will have an acknowledgment page requiring employee signatures. The employer should keep this acknowledgment on record with other similar files and resources.
2. Remote first hybrid work environments:
Many employers find their staff is more productive and happier when they work remotely. They may spend less time socializing and getting distracted when working from home. This model of work could lead to improved employee retention and enhanced company profitability. Bringing employees into the office for meetings, or simply to work in-office on a less frequent basis, is advantageous because it can still help the team build camaraderie, meet with clients or customers as-needed, and assist with keeping remote employees engaged. Some workplaces enhance the in-office experience by providing lunch or treats.
In this model, employers allow employees to come in and work on an as-needed basis or just for team meetings. Employers may also require sign-up procedures for conference rooms. Since employees may be in the office so infrequently, employers may forgo individualized desks for employees and allow open seating. The organization could save money by keeping office space to a minimum since all employees will never be on-site simultaneously.
Tips for success:
The first and most crucial step is to address cybersecurity. Recent statistics show that most companies will get hacked at some point– it’s only a matter of when they will experience a cyber-attack. This vulnerability increases exponentially if employees work from home (or coffee shops, coworking spaces, etc.). Employers should hire an external vendor or task internal staff with handling cybersecurity. They should also establish rules for cyber safety and train every employee who will work remotely. Secondly, as mentioned above, a telework policy is crucial for success with this method. Thirdly, managers will need to overcome inequities between those employees who come into the office and those who don’t. Managers must not favor the employees who come on-site more frequently with perks, promotions, or favoritism in the form of approved PTO requests, assigning work, etc. Managers must be trained on various forms of discrimination, and the employee handbook should be comprehensive and followed uniformly. These actions will assist in preventing complaints or legal action, such as lawsuits. Lastly, employers with a primarily remote model will need to develop a system for non-exempt employees to report their hours. Per the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are responsible for paying all non-exempt employees for all time worked. MP’s time tracking software can assist with this need.
3. Fully flexible hybrid work arrangements:
This is one of the most problematic arrangements for employers to implement because it is the least structured. Many employers find this arrangement results in frequent miscommunications and issues connecting in-person, losses in productivity, and also carries the same risks of discrimination for remote workers. In terms of advantages, this hybrid work model can be excellent for attracting and retaining top talent. Employees appreciate the autonomy and flexibility that it offers. This can be a big draw to join and stay at a workplace.
Employers that implement this model often utilize “flex desking.” Employees can sit at whichever desk they prefer from visit to visit. Some workplaces may find that a booking system is helpful with this arrangement and maximizes employees’ use of resources. Employers create an interactive map of the office, complete with desk and conference space, as well as technology and other resources. The interactive map would allow for booking, thus avoiding any issues that hamper productivity. One example: a team finding itself stuck without a conference room for an important meeting.
Tips for success:
As mentioned above, this model is challenging to implement successfully. A comprehensive teleworking policy will be imperative, as well as effective communication. MP’s HR talent management software can assist with this task via message boards and private messaging options. Another vital tool will be video conferencing. Employers that allow a flexible remote work environment should ensure that video conferencing is easy to implement and all employees are comfortable and ready to utilize it. Lastly, managers should be trained in anti-discriminatory topics and measures must be taken so that remote workers don’t miss out on promotions, opportunities for new projects, etc.
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