5 key considerations for successful hybrid work
Those of us working in the digital industry have been lucky enough to continue working from home throughout the pandemic rather than lose our jobs or get furloughed.
Now, as the successfully carried out vaccination programs are promising a return to the office, many employers are considering whether to return to fully in-office work, go fully remote - or combine the best of both worlds in a hybrid working arrangement, typically with 2 or 3 days per week working on site.
Seeing how effective remote working has been, a return to full-time office work seems largely unnecessary; and yet, we know that collaboration is more easily enabled and team spirit more easily realized with in-person interactions.
Taking this into account, the hybrid approach to work seems the best way to move forward for a lot of employers. All the LinkedIn and Twitter polls seem to indicate that this is what employees would prefer as well.
So, in this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at 5 main things companies need to guarantee in order to ensure a successful transition to hybrid work. You can use these as a checklist to help you determine how much you still need to do, or if you’re all set to go hybrid once a return to the office is possible.
The number one thing you need to provide is choice. Some employees perform better when they’re in the office full-time, while others thrive in a fully remote environment.
You need to offer the choice of working remotely or fully in-office even when transitioning to hybrid work, and you need to offer it on a per employee basis.
Depending on what your hybrid arrangement looks like, you should also consider providing the choice of which days to come to the office, unless certain days are specifically dedicated to meetings and in-person collaboration.
2. Transparency and trust
A culture based on transparency is essential for effective remote working, and that remains true in a hybrid environment.
Openness and transparency will facilitate collaborating via asynchronous communication and distributed workplaces, prevent key information from getting siloed and help keep everyone aligned on the same goals.
Trust is also key, but it needs to be a two-way street; you can’t expect employees to trust you if you don’t first establish a culture of trust and show that you trust them. By making trust one of your core values, you’ll be able to invest less on-going effort into things like daily checkups and micromanagement.
3. People-first culture
The companies that already had an employee-centric company culture pre-Covid were much more easily able to transition into and thrive in a remote arrangement, and again, this will still hold true for hybrid.
The importance of a good employee experience has grown drastically throughout the pandemic, and for successful hybrid work, a key element will be flexibility. Why should your employees be subject to inefficient processes and schedules just because that’s how things had always been done before?
With colleagues no longer fully in office together and asynchronous communication on the rise, there’s really no need for super strict daily work schedules. You should have some time overlap outlined for easier collaboration, of course, but you shouldn’t just copy-paste the former in-house schedule.
Empathy and understanding are also crucial here - in fact, they’re what forms the basis of a truly people-first culture. All the other factors we’ve discussed so far are rooted in and enabled by empathy, and it’s become an essential element of business due to Covid and other societal shifts that are affecting work.
4. Well-set up processes and communication channels
Under the previous point we highlighted inefficient processes as a thing to avoid in hybrid work. Indeed, a top prerequisite for ensuring successful hybrid work are definitely well-established processes and communication.
Right away at the start of the pandemic, effective video conferencing solutions became a must, and other tools that enable asynchronous collaboration have also been seeing more and more adoption. Messaging apps such as Slack were already important pre-Covid, but they’ve now become indispensable.
In order to truly succeed with hybrid work, however, you’ll need to think even bigger than just such tools. Efficient communication is all well and good, but if it’s bogged down by inefficiencies in business processes, its benefits are all but wasted.
At Agiledrop, we realized this early on into the pandemic and started working on an internal dashboard, accessible to all employees, which would drastically facilitate tasks such as time tracking or applying for vacation or sick leave, while providing managers with a highly capable and easy to use management tool.
We successfully implemented this in the second half of 2020 and have since streamlined it even more to include features like skills reviewing. And, while the dashboard is already super useful for employees, this usefulness can hardly compare to how much it facilitates the job of our project and resource managers.
This has definitely been a huge boon that’s allowed us to make the best use of working in a remote and distributed setting. If this sounds like something your company needs as well, reach out to us and we can help develop the right solution to optimize your processes.
Taking all the above points into account, one final success factor for hybrid work that we need to point out is embracing agility. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll pick and stick with a specific framework 100% of the time, but you’ll inevitably adopt some agile practices just by following the previous points of advice.
Flexibility and async communication are common agile elements, and as we’ve already pointed out, these are key for effective remote and hybrid work. To learn more about how agility can enhance collaboration in times of Covid, check out our recent podcast episode.
If you’re a heavily technology-oriented business, investing more fully in a framework like DevOps may be the right way to go; in any case, your teams will benefit from any lean and agile tactics you implement, either naturally or deliberately.
What’s more, agility will give you an additional competitive edge by facilitating innovation, reducing your time to market and enabling you to be more future-ready. Along with more flexible and hybrid work, these will all be essential building blocks of the future of work (which has in fact already begun).
Before 2020, becoming a hybrid company would likely have demanded slow and painful overhauls, but thanks to the now over 14-month long remote work experiment, it now only requires some minor adjustments and refinements, which are themselves much less of a hassle with the whole world already more prepared to accept change.
Most of the points discussed in this article require very little organizationally, and even with the ones that do, the returns make any more substantial investments more than worthwhile. We’re seeing more and more focus on the employee experience, and giving employees the choice to work in the way that makes them perform best is definitely an integral part of it.
We hope this article helps you make a smooth and successful transition to hybrid work. As said, if you could use some extra development capacity for a new tool or process optimization, drop us a line and let’s talk about how we can help you out.