Building A Successful Hybrid Working Policy
Hybrid working is here to stay as a model, but what does it take to build an effective, efficient, and long-lasting hybrid working policy for a business? Ezra discusses the key considerations to making this model work for your organization.
A hybrid working policy is, undoubtedly, the hallmark of modern working. Ever since the pandemic, it has been vital to incorporate remote working, but as companies and employees are looking to return to the working environment, there has been a push for flexibility, hence a hybrid working policy.
But a hybrid working policy can set a number of rules, and should be implemented effectively. What does it really take to build an effective hybrid working policy for an organization?
Build your hybrid workplace Hybrid Working Policy Checklist
We know there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to the future of the workplace but, as employers are considering their approach to hybrid working, we have put together a checklist to help you design the right strategy and guidelines that fit your employee needs while balancing business requirements.
Defining hybrid working
It’s important for the policy to set out what hybrid working is and clearly define it. According to Breathe HR, the hybrid working models comprise three different components.
The remote-first model focuses on employees working from home but can come into the office when they want.
The office-occasional model allows employees to split their week between the home and the office.
The office-first model is not necessarily a hybrid in the strictest terms but is a good option for employers who are not ready to incorporate a completely flexible approach.
While these three models can facilitate a number of options to suit the business, it seems that it is also beneficial to highlight the positives of hybrid working for the employee too.
Setting out expectations
An effective policy should make it clear the expectations of employees, and should state the specific number of days in a week employees are expected to spend time in the workplace and remotely. But without being set in stone, the policy has to incorporate flexibility.
There is the now-famous memo by Apple CEO Tim Cook stating that employees should return to the office three days a week. But the right remote working policy should take into account a number of factors, such as the nature of the role, what is occurring within the role and the team at any specific time, the needs of the employer in a logistical sense, as well as individual circumstances of the employee.
It is vital to incorporate flexibility with hybrid working arrangements, but there will be some caveats to the rule, for example, if in-person training is needed, meetings, etc.
Define who is eligible
The policy has to state who is eligible, based on the suitable roles for hybrid working. There will be times when hiding working is not conducive to productivity, such as face-to-face roles in customer service.
The policy has to be clear in its rationale. This is beneficial to the employer and the employee because this will negate any future disputes over hybrid working. It is important to address this upfront, especially with the notion of the hybrid contact center. According to Frost & Sullivan, they predict 20% of the call center workforce will work from home in the near future, which in comparison to 2% of employees who were working outside the office prior to COVID-19, a significant leap.
Set out working arrangements
Logistically speaking, the policy has to be clear-cut with regard to employee arrangements. There are specific demands on an organization, especially with regards to working patterns.
There is a need for a certain number of employees to oversee the operations, for example, when it comes to contact center work and employees need to man the phones.
Workplace attendance information needs to set out the working patterns, and if an employee is expected to stick to regular hours, there should be a degree of flexibility.
It’s also important to set out any hot-desking arrangements in the workspace, and if there are any working measures in place, especially in the post-COVID environment, for example, if mask-wearing is essential in certain locations.
For the latter point, a survey released by the American Staffing Association, 57% of U.S. adults believe masks should be essential for vaccinated employees working in on-site locations. Compulsory mask-wearing is a key component for making people safe, and it is imperative to follow the lead of the employees’ opinions.
Provide essential guidance
Remote working is an essential provision and is the key to effective hybrid working. While there are a lot of cultural considerations to ensure that employees are part of the team despite working remotely, the practicalities necessitate a strict set of guidelines relating to technology and working standards operating in tandem.
The policy should cover sickness absence when working remotely, the maintenance of a healthy and safe remote working environment, as well as data protection and good computer security.
The most important aspect of the policy should cover working patterns and ensuring a work-life balance is maintained. This is something severely neglected in remote working, but the feeling that employees cannot switch off at the end of a working day should be worked directly into the policy.
A study of 3.1 million workers in North America, Europe, and the Middle East found a rise in the average number of emails sent internally, causing the average workday to extend by 48.5 minutes. Reducing the temptation to check emails outside working hours can make a massive impact.
Communicate the policy
Communicating a new policy throughout the company is not just down to sending an email from the HR department- communicating workplace policy changes, especially ones as seismic as hybrid working, demands you being as straightforward and upfront about the changes.
To communicate the policy effectively, you have to focus on the following areas:
To communicate policy updates, you will need to hold a staff meeting. A hybrid working policy demands efficient communication but it is not so easy in light of the mixture of scenarios.
When communicating anything, it’s important to do it through the same channel, which is why it is vital to do it through an online meeting rather than in person.
Based on the current circumstances, it may prove difficult to have everybody in one location, therefore having a workplace meeting conducted online will ensure everybody experiences the meeting within the same environment.
Facilitating two-way communication
Guaranteeing your staff is voicing their concerns is crucial, but it’s also as important to make sure that you are dealing with them openly and honestly.
Holding feedback sessions and allowing for anonymous feedback will ensure employees feel comfortable voicing honest opinions.
Communicating the documentation
Finally, it is imperative that the documentation has been communicated, and that your employees are signing off on a new workplace policy.
This is a legally binding part of the policy, which means more should be done to send it through the best channels and ensure that all employees at all levels have clear visibility and understanding of it.
Above all, you need to consider how your employees can adjust to these changes with ease, while also doing what is best for the business. In the role of logistics and HR, putting together an essential hybrid working policy requires addressing the needs of the business and the employees.
It has never been more important to focus on an employee’s needs, especially as remote working can cause them to feel out of the loop. It’s crucial to be flexible, but meeting the needs of the business at the same time is not so easy. A hybrid working policy is a new way of working, but it is designed to benefit both sides of the equation.
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