Hybrid Office: Can Your Company Make it Work?

by Mike O'Neill

There’s no denying that Covid has changed the way many of us work. Businesses around the globe have had to learn to be flexible and adapt to the challenges they’ve faced in the last two years. Now, as more companies are bringing employees back to the office, employers wonder if there might be a better way of working.

You may have some employees that can’t or don’t want to come back to the office, or you could find that having part of your team working from home is just a better fit for everyone. But you’re worried about keeping things running smoothly when some of your employees aren’t working from the office. Can you make a hybrid office work for your company?

Read on for more information on hybrid offices and tips to help make this setup work for your business.

What is a Hybrid Office?

A hybrid office refers to having an office setup that includes some employees working from home at least part of the time and some employees working from your company office. A more accurate label for this sort of setup could be ‘flexible office,’ because ideally, it meets both your employees’ needs and your business’ needs.

For some companies, a hybrid office looks like employees who occasionally work from home when it’s more convenient for them and you. For others, it may include a mix of almost exclusively remote employees and exclusively office-based employees.

Whatever hybrid office model you choose to implement, you’ll need to consider what would work best for your business and its employees. Hybrid offices offer a great deal of flexibility for your employees, but they can pose a few challenges at the same time.

Hybrid Office Success Tips

A hybrid office can significantly improve employee satisfaction and boost productivity, but you need to have a plan so employees know what to expect. With that in mind, here are some tips to help make operating a hybrid office a success for your business.

Tip #1. Be Clear With Communication

When planning a hybrid office setting, you need to decide who will work from where and when. Will some employees be completely remote? Will you have more or less flexibility for your employees?

Determine how much time employees can expect to work remotely or from the office and then communicate this clearly to your employees. Removing uncertainty from the equation empowers your employees to shine in their new working situation, so keep communication clear and open.

Tip #2. Involve Your Employees

Involve your employees in designing your hybrid office plan. Ask for their feedback, then listen to what they have to say. Some may not want to work from home, while others may relish the freedom to work from both locations at their discretion. 

Try to be flexible, if possible, and really listen to what your employees have to tell you. After all, happy employees are likely productive employees. But keeping your remote employees involved in what goes on at the office is just as important as keeping them happy at home. They need to know that they will still have the same opportunities as their in-office coworkers when it comes to training or advancement, so make sure your hybrid office focuses on inclusivity for these remote employees.

Tip #3. Consider Your Technology Needs

Hybrid offices are great for many reasons, but they also require a little extra planning when it comes to technology. Cybersecurity is a massive issue for many businesses, and having employees working remotely can pose some extra challenges. You may find that you have to update your current technology to allow for remote meetings and maintain smooth communication between remote and office employees.

Determine what your company’s tech needs are and prioritize cyber security. Being prepared to handle any technical mishaps will help your employees focus on their work. Plus, if technical difficulties mean they can’t work from one location, they’ll be able to simply pick up where they left off at the other location.

Tip #4. Be Consistent

No matter where your employees are working, be as consistent as possible regarding rules, discipline, and communication. Don’t leave remote employees out of the loop when it comes to decision-making, and make sure all employees have access to the information they need to thrive in their jobs.

Consistency not only helps you reinforce your new hybrid office routines, but it will help reassure your employees too. There’s no shortage of uncertainty in the world today, so don’t underestimate how powerful your consistency can be in keeping your employees motivated and happy in their jobs.

Tip #5. Focus on Teambuilding

It can be too easy for your employees to feel isolated and underappreciated when they aren’t getting face-to-face feedback regularly. At the end of the day, your employees are all members of the same team, so make sure they feel that way.

Focus on team building by encouraging regular in-person meetings for those who can safely attend, and find other ways to make remote employees feel like part of your valued team when they can’t be there in person. If you focus on creating a team atmosphere, everyone will be happier, and the transition to a hybrid office should be much smoother.

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