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The range of flexible work arrangements — from hybrid work to remote work to free-address workplace strategies — continues to expand as companies explore next steps. However, remote work isn’t the best option for everyone. The prevalence and popularity of remote work exploded, by default, during the pandemic. For some organizations, including ActivTrak, a remote-first strategy and culture is the best, most sustainable approach for long-term success.
It’s important for C-suite executives and managers to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and the future of work warrants a more thoughtful and strategic exploration of their organization’s specific needs. To best support employees’ evolved expectations with critical business needs, some may consider a hybrid approach that lets them divide their time between a formal workspace and the location of their choice.
Designing and documenting a hybrid work policy that meets the unique needs of your organization can streamline the transition from other operating models and provide clear guidance for employees.
Varying Degrees of Flexibility and Employee Choice
Hybrid work arrangements have been around, often informally, for decades. In a hybrid work operating model, employees are free to get work done in whichever work environment helps them be most productive, with varying degrees of flexibility and choice. With support from their manager, some employees might decide that remote-only is the best option for them, while others might find that working in a designated office setting away from the distractions of the home is key to getting the most out of the workweek.
Perhaps employees prefer to pop into the office 2 or 3 days a week to see coworkers or attend an important meeting. It’s all about offering a variety of work options that support flexibility and empower employees to create a work-life balance that works for them and their well-being without impacting performance.
The Benefits of a Hybrid Work Model
There are a number of benefits to hybrid work arrangements, for both businesses and employees! These include:
- Improved collaboration: The value of real-time in-person connection enhances collaboration and cannot be fully replicated in an exclusively remote environment. Whether the interactions are during formal meetings or impromptu chats, the kind of in-person conversation that can only occur in a shared workspace can drive innovation and speed to resolution.
- Better work-life balance: Work-life balance is essential for employee wellbeing and a healthy work environment. When employees have control of their schedule and can decide when they’re commuting and when they’d rather stay home, they feel empowered to make the best choices for their own well-being, engagement, and productivity. Happier employees are also more likely to stay at your company, which is better for retention and your human resources department.
- Access to deeper talent pools: Many people have become accustomed to the perks of working remotely. By offering a hybrid model, businesses can expand the talent pool they choose from to include a greater geographical area and a larger group within that area who might not be able to commute or aren’t interested in working in an office space every day.
The benefits of hybrid working are often underestimated because while it may seem like remote work is the default ideal option, data provides a more nuanced and realistic perspective. A recent Accenture survey found that 83% of respondents would prefer a hybrid model where they could work remotely at least 25% of the time. Also, 68% of Americans say that a hybrid work model is their ideal arrangement and interestingly, the majority of Gen Z employees (to the tune of 74%) want the option to work onsite.
These statistics show that the future of work isn’t necessarily one where everyone works remotely full-time, but it will definitely be one that includes flexibility. C-suite executives, managers, and team leaders must consider this evolving approach and put as much effort into documenting and distributing a hybrid work policy as they do for other work-related initiatives.
The Challenges of a Hybrid Work Model
As with any new way of working, hybrid work arrangements have a number of challenges, especially in the absence of a formal policy.
The first is lack of clarity. With employees shaping their ideal work environment, it can be challenging to get your team members on the same page. How many days in the office differentiate a remote worker from a hybrid worker from an in-office worker? Will hybrid workers receive a smaller work from home allowance because they’re spending fewer days at home? Do employees have to inform their managers when they’ll be coming in, or do they have unlimited access to the space? These are all important questions that shouldn’t be left to the last minute.
The second challenge is productivity. Hybrid employees struggle with the same productivity pain points as remote employees, and burnout, focus, and disruptions are at the top of the list. Working from home can quickly blur the lines between work hours and personal time, and as the workday extends beyond traditional hours, it’s not uncommon for employee well-being to suffer and burnout rates to increase.
When your home and your workspace are dual function, personal distractions like checking social media, doing chores in between checking emails, or taking care of family make focusing on job duties harder than ever and can impact performance. Suddenly, your day isn’t divided into clean blocks of work hours and personal hours — it all blends together. While some of these challenges might be mitigated when employees choose to come into the office, they are then faced with new drains on their time and focus like commuting.
From a managerial standpoint, gauging the productivity of a hybrid employee is a challenge since you can’t simply glance over to see what your team members are doing. Instead, you have to learn to trust your employees and you have to find new ways to gauge their productivity from a distance. The best way to do this is to use workforce productivity analytics and transparently leverage data in conversations and coaching opportunities with employees.
How To Create a Clear and Comprehensive Hybrid Work Policy
Effectively managing a hybrid team can be a challenge. The key to mitigating these pain points is by having decision-makers come together to create a hybrid work policy. This document should delineate your company’s expectations and responsibilities of all hybrid workers and give structure and standards to the hybrid work model. Also, the hybrid work policy should explain how workforce productivity analytics will factor into this new model.
All employees — no matter where they are — can benefit from the data-driven insights pulled from a workforce analytics solution. The hybrid work policy is your chance to make monitoring and productivity improvement integral to your enterprise from the very beginning and set a foundation for a culture of continuous productivity improvement.
So, what should your hybrid work policy include? Much like a remote work policy, your hybrid work policy should lay out the guidelines and best practices for your new hybrid operating model and answer any questions your team members might have about the arrangement.
The policy should outline eligibility criteria for hybrid work and what the expectations of a hybrid employee are, including how many hours they are expected to work each day, what those hours are, and if and when they are expected to come into the office space. It’s also important that you include a section with easy access to key resources your employees may need as they adapt to this new hybrid environment.
Again, the more resources you provide to accompany the policy, the more you can streamline the transition and ensure business needs and employee needs are successfully addressed from the outset. If there are certain additional responsibilities employees need to take on when at home or at the office location, that should be made clear. The more answers you can provide upfront, the stronger and more effective your hybrid work arrangement will be.
To guide you through this process, we’ve created a hybrid work policy template to help you start defining your own policy. A comprehensive policy can help strengthen in-person and virtual communication, streamline digital processes, and develop hybrid management strategies.
For an in-depth example, download ActivTrak’s hybrid work policy!
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About ActivTrak and The Productivity Lab
ActivTrak helps companies unlock productivity potential. Our award-winning workforce productivity and analytics software provides expert insights that empower people, optimize processes, and maximize technology. With data sourced from more than 9,000 customers and 250,000 users, ActivTrak’s Productivity Lab is a global center for ground-breaking workforce productivity research and expertise that helps companies embrace and embody the future of work.