COVID-19 has transformed our relationship with the office. Before the pandemic, the office was the beating heart of most businesses. It was a shared space for teams to collaborate and build a company culture. In March 2020, thousands of businesses were forced to adopt remote work and abandon offices entirely. Employees exchanged long commutes for an extra hour in bed, and in-person team huddles for Zoom meetings and Slack threads.
With a vaccine now available, employers are finally able to start thinking about reopening their offices. However, while some employees are craving a return to working out of an office space, some have come to enjoy the flexibility of remote work. This is prompting many companies to consider instead implementing a hybrid workplace in order to best accommodate the needs of their employees.
What is a hybrid workplace?
A hybrid workplace model supports a mix of both remote and in-office employees. As companies prepare for reopening offices, 80% say they will allow employees to work remotely at least part time. At the same time, employees are eager to return to the office with 75% of the population wishing to return in some capacity when it is safe to do so.
However, establishing a hybrid workplace is not as easy as simply allowing employees to work from home whenever they want. Employers must find a way to strike the right balance between satisfying employee needs while rightsizing real estate costs and maintaining a productive workforce.
Here are five tips to consider when establishing a hybrid workplace at your company
5 Tips for establishing a hybrid workplace
1. Keep health and safety front and center
The importance of maintaining physical and mental health at work has never been more important. Prior to COVID-19, 9 of 10 employees admitted to coming to work while sick. This is no longer acceptable and establishing the right processes to ensure a healthy work environment is critical. Investing in policies that encourage employees to work remotely if they are feeling unwell can help ensure that the workplace remains safe for your everyone.
Additionally, consider investing in virtual health screening tools to check if employees are exhibiting any symptoms prior to coming into the workplace. Creating a log of who is and isn’t onsite and whether or not they are sick or become sick shortly after will enable you to conduct contact tracing quickly.
2. Establish a clear virtual work policy
As employees readjust from working remotely full time, leadership should establish a clear office attendance policy for their employees. This policy should address whether or not employees must come into the office, and what the policy is on the days they do come into the office. It should also address whether or not there are required days for certain teams to be in the office and if there is a minimum or maximum number of days a month each employee needs to be in the office.
Be sure to review the policy with department leadership in order to accommodate team needs across your organization.
3. Give your managers the tools they need to be successful
Policies and expectations are going to differ drastically between teams. Your managers are at the frontlines of hybrid work and setting them up for success is critical for the business. Understand your managers needs and provide them with the right software to be successful including performance management and collaboration tools.
4. Don’t stop investing in virtual work
Employees working from home need to feel just as much a part of the team as those in the office. As you ramp up investment into reopening your office, be sure to match that investment in supporting employees who will continue to work remotely. This could include:
- Provide remote employees a a small stipend to buy office essentials -- This can help empower remote workers to feel productive and like they have the support of an office environment
- Use video conferencing for every meeting -- Even if you have some team in the office, video conferencing will allow virtual team members to feel like they are on the same playing field as those in-office
- Invest in virtual social activities -- Staying connected with all of your employees is more important than ever. Virtual happy hours and virtual escape rooms are a great way to accomplish this
5. Check that you’re right-sizing your expenses
While businesses are excited to return to working in an office, the hybrid workplace means that employers will need to strike the right balance between investing in supporting remote work and offering a productive and safe office space.
Evaluate your office needs on an ongoing basis to determine where you’re making worthwhile investments, and where there is an opportunity to allocate budget more effectively.
Some questions to consider include:
- Based on our attendance policies, how much office space do we need?
- Do we need more collaboration space and less individual desks?
- How much food and beverage is required to satisfy employees in the office?
- Do we have the right event budget to enable the entire company to get together?
- Is our remote work stipend enough to meet employee needs?
Leverage data to help make these decisions and when you execute you should find significant savings.
Need a tool to help manage your hybrid workplace?
Scoop takes the uncertainty out of bringing employees back together by building employee confidence through shared health and safety guidelines, reducing operational risks, and enabling employers to track which employees are coming into the office every day.