Implementing a Hybrid Workplace Plan

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Ready or not, COVID-19 has pushed employers into allowing remote work for any suitable role. As we near closer to bringing employees back to their workplaces en masse, many employers are considering implementing some sort of hybrid model.

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Employers and employees alike have seen how well working remotely can work, as well as the shortcomings, and now want to find ways to get the best of both worlds. A hybrid model proposes to do exactly that by allowing some employees to work remotely while others are on-site or by allowing some people to work remotely part of the time and on-site part of the time.

There are several reasons employers are considering a hybrid model even for roles that can be done remotely. Here are a few reasons to bring employees on-site even if it’s not strictly required for the job itself:

  • Building camaraderie
  • Building and maintaining organizational culture and norms
  • Productivity enhancement from in-person meetings
  • Networking and brainstorming that can be best facilitated in person

Tips for Implementing a Hybrid Workplace Plan

The first thing to consider when implementing a hybrid plan is how it will look. For example:

  • Which roles or departments can stay remote indefinitely?
  • Which should return to on-site work as much as possible?
  • Which can truly be hybridized?
  • Will the benefit of working from home come with any seniority or other caveats or requirements?
  • Will those working at home still be required to keep the same hours as the on-site teams?
  • Will this be a phased implementation or all at once? For example, will everyone who is coming back on-site come back at the same time or only in phases until COVID has been better controlled?
  • What COVID-conscious processes will be in place for employees who return? How soon will those be ready?

Once those questions have been answered, here are some other tips:

  • Remember to take employee needs into account. For example, some roles may be able to stay remote, but perhaps not all employees in those roles want to be 100% remote. Get employee input on these decisions.
  • Review the benefit structure to ensure benefits can be utilized by employees in any situation. Don’t forget about things like employer-provided lunches, which employees working from home typically miss out on.
  • As always, take steps to ensure all employees working from home have the tools they need to be productive and efficient.
  • Communication throughout implementation and beyond is critical.

Regardless of what you implement, there are also some challenges to consider:

  • As many have learned over the past year, working from home can be mentally challenging. Employers need to account for this even after remote work becomes voluntary rather than required.
  • When some employees are remote and some are in person, it becomes easier to accidentally overlook someone you don’t see every day. Colleagues get left off of messages, forgotten on invitations to events, and even passed over for promotions. Be careful to implement policies to ensure these risks are minimized.

What is your organization’s plan? Keep the status quo, and allow remote work for everyone who can? Return on-site? Or implement a hybrid model?

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