With the pandemic changing the way we work, many companies and their employees want to incorporate the benefits of remote working with their old office life. For this they are turning to a hybrid working model.
What is hybrid working?
Hybrid working is a flexible working model, similar to that of remote working and teleworking. It combines working from home with an office presence to create a fluid in-between that allows workers to control where and how they work.
Both employers and employees can benefit from hybrid work, as it can help bring the best of office and remote work together. Employers can reduce office size, while growing staff numbers. Employees can enjoy a greater control of their life, increasing well being through a more personal work life balance. Both can enjoy productivity benefits and a more diverse place to work.
What are the different hybrid working models?
If you are thinking about implementing a hybrid working model at your organisation you should be aware of the variations of model available to you. With these to hand you can organise your environment to best suit the staff and resources you have available.
The remote-first model or ‘at-will’ model
This model puts precedence for the company’s employees to ‘work from home’, but be able to come in when they choose. In this model all employees will be based from home, but have the option to come in when they want.
This style of hybrid work is open to interpretation by the company. Some will allow their employees to come in to collaborate only, with all non-team work conducted from homes. However, some companies may choose to be more flexible and allow workers to choose either office or home work.
By choosing this model the company can keep the office space for employees to collaborate, bond and develop a strong company culture.
Ultimately it is up to you to find the right balance to suit the needs of your enterprise.
The office-occasional model
Being fully remote may not suit some companies, where office space comes at a high premium or employees need more structure to their arrangements.
In this case, a model which allows employees to split their week between the office and home can be beneficial.
In this model, employees will be expected to come into the office for a certain number of days or hours a week, while spending the rest working from home.
This model lacks the flexibility of an at-will model, but does allow a degree of freedom. If you are not fully sold on remote working, this hybrid model could be the right one for your business.
This model can be organised in a variety of ways. Employees can come in for a designated set number of hours or days a week. They could be given set shifts and work from a fair rota to know when their office times should be. Alternatively, they could work week by week, where they are required to be in the office for one week, then work from home the next.
The office-first model
This model is not strictly hybrid in the way we have been describing so far. However, it is an important option if you are not fully sold on the idea of a fully flexible system or feel that your business isn’t suitable to have all staff remote working.
The office first model means that employees are required to work from the office, but with a small percentage of the workforce working remotely and others allowed to work remotely when required.
In this situation it is important to be clear who is eligible for remote work and make it clear when and how staff can apply to do it.
What are the expectations of the employer when it comes to hybrid working?
The expectation of the employer when implementing a hybrid working model is to create a safe and productive environment for their employees.
This will involve forming the right policies and putting the right practices in place to make sure staff can continue to work. You are also responsible for creating a workspace that is technically capable of supporting hybrid work, with appropriate workstations both at home and in the office.
When implementing a hybrid working policy employers will also be expected to trust the employees to complete and manage their workload. You will also be expected to ensure your staff’s best interests are always taken into account.
Five simple steps to successfully implement hybrid working
To successfully implement a hybrid working model there are some key factors you need to consider:
1. Create clear policy and procedures
Create policies and procedures that enable your staff to easily make the transition to hybrid working. This can mean starting from scratch or updating a flexible working policy you already have in place.
Whether you are updating your existing policy or creating a new one, here are some things you should be aware of:
- State what type of hybrid working model you will be implementing and how you want it to work.
- If you are not offering a blanket policy, show employees how they request hybrid working and make it clear who is eligible.
- Ensure that all staff know their roles and responsibilities in relation to the new hybrid model.
- Some current company policies may not be fit for purpose. Review how hybrid working works in line with your current company policies and update accordingly.
- To expand on the previous point, lay out your approach to disciplinaries, grievances, performance and absences. Many of these will need new structures to incorporate non-office-based personnel.
2. Consider the legal implications of moving to hybrid working
Organisations consider the legal implications of hybrid working. The change to this style will amount to a formal change of the terms and conditions of employment at your company.
To adapt to this, new employment contracts should state their contractual location, with those working from home, having their home address as their workplace. Make it clear to employees that they should discuss their move with their landlord, mortgage provider and house insurer, as this may affect some of their policies and structure of their agreement.
There are also some tax benefits for those working from home that your employees may benefit from. Make sure you let them know!
3. Make communication between your workforce easy
How you communicate within your business and between teams will have a huge influence on the successful implementation of a hybrid working model.
The best option is to adopt a form of asynchronous communication, which will allow your team to communicate without the need to respond immediately. You will brief your employees with everything they need to get the job done and let them run the task in the allotted time.
If there are any issues, employees can send questions or provide status updates without you having to be on hand all day.
Alongside this you can set up workplace instant messaging tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams Chat or Google Chat to help keep your employees connected.
4. Build training and development into your hybrid working model
Hybrid working will bring new demands on your workforce, bringing unique challenges that they are not likely to have faced before. As an employer you should put in place learning and development to help ensure the productivity of your workforce.
One area to pay particular attention to is developing skills to ensure that effective communication, performance management, and team building are in place. There are many useful tools you can use to help upskill your workforce, a good example of this is LinkedIn Learning.
Breathe also provide a module for our HR software called Learn which has been developed to help businesses develop and manage employee learning and development programmes.
5. Ensure your employees have the right technology and equipment to succeed
Regardless of what hybrid model you choose, your workforce should be able to seamlessly work between the home and the office.
Those who are working from home need to have the correct equipment to be productive. They also need facilities for an easy transition into the office. Have a look at how your office space is structured. Convert static ‘set spaces’ into hot desks and create an online booking system for office access.
Companies should offer support and training to their employees to help them work easily from both, this includes:
- Providing a list of recommended tools and with training on how to use them.
- Putting appropriate security measures in place to help keep data secure.
- Conducting a review of the equipment available in the office and at employees’ home to assess whether it will support hybrid working.
Look after your people, wherever they’re based
It also comes with built-in tools designed to help promote professional growth and recognise the great work of your workforce. Ensure your hybrid working model takes off successfully, and build a business that puts people first with Breathe.
Author: Andy Stewart