Hybrid work: How do you make the transition, and how do you measure performance virtually? With many workplaces starting to make the change, we thought we’d ask our human resource experts to weigh in on best practices for hybrid organizations and what to avoid.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things including our relationship with our professional lives. Previously, one was more likely to prioritize work commitments, and now we see that workers hold their personal lives in a higher regard to their work lives. is certainly not a bad thing, and on top of this the employee benefits of working from home have been well documented. But for a manager looking at the role the office will play in the future, it does mean deliberate thought will be required to create a hybrid model of work, as workplaces look to re-introduce in-person days.
Read: The Benefits of Working from Home
A Microsoft report identified that 49% of employees are considering a shift to remote work within the next year, with 53% also considering a hybrid workplace. For 38% of job seekers, hybrid options are a key component of their search criteria. For younger employees returning to the office is a nonstarter, with 77% of young employees considering it non-negotiable.
These trends indicate that if an employer is not willing to be flexible, it will lose out on top talent, which will hurt how competitive they are in the market.
Managers might be hesitant to switch to a hybrid model, which is fair, especially considering the amount of change they have had to weather in the last few years. Having that in mind, we asked one of our HR professionals, to weigh in on the things to consider when implementing a hybrid system.
Change Your Practices
Hybrid work requires organizations to alter the way they operate. The often-negative pre-pandemic view of an employee working from home is no longer valid. The negative associations with a person working from home stemmed from the friction between people in the office adhering to corporate practices and the person working from home having to alter their adherence due to location. Setting up a modern work arrangement with dated practices will yield the same conflict.
Many of the negative pre-pandemic perceptions were proven false throughout the pandemic. Despite enormous upheaval in the world around them, workers were able to stay connected and engaged with their teams through online communication, with many workplaces noting productivity stayed the same or, in some cases, improved. With time, workers are getting better at working from home, with productivity levels continuing their slow rise.
Hybrid work arrangements require a consistent approach that can be followed in any location. This is what will alleviate the tension between those in the office and those not in the office. For example, organizations could dictate whether a meeting will be in-person or virtual, rather than a mix of the two. Another option is, instead of focusing on which days of the week people can work from home and which days of the week they need to be in the office, use tasks as the defining action. Dictate which activities need to be completed in-office and which can be done remotely. For example, an organization may decide that people are required to be physically in the office the day before a major presentation is to be delivered to ensure group collaboration and preparation, or that project kick-off meetings will be held in-person.
Do not delineate this by what requires collaboration, rather by what can be done asynchronously and what requires a synchronous review, and which is often more effectively completed in-person. A purposeful approach to requiring in-person attendance can be better understood and more easily accepted by employees versus an arbitrary assignment of calendar days. This will support employee engagement and productivity.
Really become paperless
Many offices classify themselves as paperless, yet they have printers, paper files, and many manual processes. This way of operating is cumbersome for people in the office and can be not only ineffective, but frustrating and demoralizing for anyone working remotely.
Back-office processes need to be automated to support a hybrid or remote work philosophy. Ensure that signatures and approvals are 100% digital – not print-scan-sign – to avoid delays due to the need for a physical signature. Not only does this speed up the process, but with many young people not having printers, it makes it easier for them to integrate themselves into workplaces and processes.
All documents should be shared in an electronic repository inclusive of a forum where multiple parties can access and revise asynchronously. A reliance on paper, or even individually accessed files, can limit, and dictate office practices and procedures, foster inefficiencies, and dampen morale.
Measure what matters
Due to the increase in knowledge-based work, modern work arrangements require clear performance metrics to ensure alignment; this is especially true for hybrid and remote workers. Metrics should focus on business outputs or other strategic objectives. Performance assessments should be based on these metrics.
Measure the things that will grow your business, not those that have simply been measured historically. What gets measured gets done – a metric based on the time-of-day employees’ work will cause a focus on employees being online or at work at that time, not on their output.
When it comes to implementing a hybrid system at your workplace, it is important to include your employees in the discussion about what that would look like. Leaders must take that and establish the when, why, and where of the office. When collaboration is needed, why that collaboration should be done in a physical space, and where to measure success of a workplace that is hybrid.
Start by abandoning your preconceived notions about remote or hybrid employees. Their personal preference is not to be antagonized, but to be worked with. As a fully remote organization, Business Sherpa Group is a proponent of hybrid work, which when implemented properly, can help people be the best employee they can be while still living their best personal lives.
We’re ready to help any organization make the switch to a remote or hybrid system. If you want to discuss how we can help your strategy, whether that is a quick review or a dissection of the plan, we’re here to help. Fill out the contact form through the link below and we will be in touch with you shortly to get you on track.