Should you move to an in-person or remote workforce? That question is stirring debate in organizations across the world. Both types of working environments offer unique benefits, but it can be tough to choose which one makes the most sense.
On one hand, you could take the Goldman Sachs route and ask everyone to work on-site. Or you could shift to being all virtual like GitHub. The problem, of course, is that people want choices, and they tend to balk against extremes. That’s where hybrid work arrangements can step in as a happy medium.
The hybrid concept is theoretically simple: Allow team members to work where and when they want. But figuring out how to weave in hybrid work styles without sacrificing productivity, morale, or culture can be challenging.
Here’s the good news: You can adopt a hybrid work environment without losing traction or risking growth. These guidelines for creating an appealing, hybrid-friendly atmosphere can help:
1. Unlearn old ways to open the door for new opportunities.
Maybe you’ve managed people and projects the same way for years. That’s normal, and it’s likely helped propelled you this far in your career. But now is the right time to rethink your coveted “shoulds” and “musts.” Why? Staying open-minded and unlearning outdated standards will help you explore new opportunities, including those related to hybrid working.
Mark O’Donnell, visionary at EOS Worldwide, explained in an article for Addicted 2 Success that being a great learner is essential, but being an unlearner is equally important. “After building resolute habits over time, it can be hard to change them or adopt new ways of thinking on your own,” he said. He encourages all entrepreneurs, executives, owners, and managers to avoid single-mindedness.
So how can you apply unlearning directly to developing an excellent hybrid working environment? From this point forward, challenge everything you thought was important about your pre-pandemic working environment. Eventually, you’ll realize that many of your old workplace habits and beliefs aren’t as critical as you’d imagined.
2. Inform your policies with employees in mind.
If you’re transitioning to a hybrid work environment, encourage employee feedback throughout the process to let employees know you’re committed to finding an approach that works best for them.
Start by inviting employees to help create a policy with clear expectations for hybrid work. Gather feedback and revise accordingly. For example, is it important to employees that on- and off-site people begin working at the same times every day? How can off-site employees best communicate when they will be unavailable for lunches or other breaks? Don’t assume the answer to these questions. Open the door for employees to share their preferences, and then structure your policies around them.
As a best practice, you should strive to capture feedback from employees at every meaningful moment in the employee journey. Automating the collection of feedback – and then acting on that voice of employee data — will help create engaged employees and better-aligned organizations.
3. Prioritize work-life integration.
Employees’ professional lives will always affect their personal lives, and vice versa. Work-life balance isn’t a simple switch you can click on and off: It’s not as easy as leaving the office or shutting your computer down.
But when work becomes an overwhelming aspect of life and inhibits employees’ abilities to enjoy their personal time, that becomes a problem. It creates burnout, which is hard on employees and costly for companies.
This can be especially difficult for employees in a hybrid environment as many workers struggle to find the right mix of personal and professional responsibilities when they’re stationed at home. Focusing on prioritization can help.
Don’t view work life and personal life as separate. They will always integrate, and that’s unavoidable. Instead, help employees strategically integrate them by focusing on the work that matters most. When they can check off their highest work priorities, they can rest easier knowing the most important matters are taken care of.
There’s little doubt that hybrid working has become more prevalent than ever. For the right companies, it’s an exceptional way to meet your employees’ needs and keep your operations running like clockwork. Just remember that a hybrid approach will require new strategies for creating an excellent working environment.