As more people get vaccinated, workplaces are preparing for a return to life in the office. However, many employees now prefer working from home, at least part of the time. As a result, many employers are implementing a new hybrid workplace model, in which some employees work on-site, and others work at home.
In many cases, employees alternate between who goes into the office and who works from home based on the days of the week. According to Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, by 2022, 45% of employees globally will work from home two or three days per week, and 25% will work primarily from home.
Since the hybrid workplace may soon become your new normal. Let’s look at how to optimize the experience for everyone involved.
1. Ask the Right Questions
When considering how to structure your hybrid workplace, or if this model makes sense for your organization—ask yourself and your team these questions:
- Do certain teams need to be in the office on certain days for specific reasons?
- Which meetings (if any) must be held in person, and when do they take place?
- Do employees feel disconnected when working at home, and if so, would they prefer to come to the office on particular days of the week?
- Are employees learning to effectively communicate and collaborate from their various workplaces?
The answers will surely vary between individuals and teams. Conduct a pulse survey to find out how employees feel about a hybrid workplace. Ask for specifics, such as how often they’d prefer to work off-site vs. in the office. With this information, you’ll be better equipped to decide how to structure your own brand of hybrid work.
2. Connect with Employees Throughout the Day
Offer feedback to each member of your team at various points throughout the day, or as needed. Use tools that allow for virtual, real-time feedback to connect with them instantly, no matter where they’re working from that day. Set regular times for team check-ins and one-on-ones. A structured schedule helps everyone stay focused, while providing necessary feedback and guidance.
3. Optimize Collaboration
Make sure teams are operating at peak performance with the right tools. For example, take advantage of collaborative software and video conferencing solutions that lend themselves to brainstorming and teamwork. When discussions happen spontaneously in the office, invite off-site employees to take part. Get into the habit of calling them to bounce ideas off them. It’ll promote camaraderie and innovation.
4. Stay on Track with Goals and Objectives
Help employees build momentum toward their objectives and overarching goals with goal-tracking software. These tools can help clearly measure progress toward objectives and key results (OKRs). They’ve become more important than ever—helping employees stay dialed in, and on track with team and business goals.
5. Foster Social Connections
Find ways to strengthen employee relationships. Many may not have worked in the same physical space in several months. In the case of new hires, they may never have shared a work space with their colleagues at all.
Strive to strengthen connections between teams too. Throughout the pandemic, many companies have worked to strengthen social ties and communication within teams. But according to McKinsey, a global management consulting firm, communication between teams may have suffered. One of Slack’s features pairs up colleagues in different parts of any given company for coffee dates—a great way to bring back spontaneous interaction.
6. Help All Employees Find Purpose in Their Work
Now more than ever, employees want their work to have meaning. In fact, many seek new positions when they feel their current roles lack purpose. “Increasingly, the bar is rising, and people are saying, ‘My work has to be more than a job. It has to fit in with my life’s purpose,” said talent expert Bill Shaninger in a McKinsey interview.
Help your staff find that meaning within their existing job. Recognize and acknowledge the role they play in completing a greater organizational mission. Find ways to give back to your community that employees find meaningful. And make sure they’re involved in these efforts. Where possible, help them move into more gratifying roles.
When employees find their work meaningful, they’ll be more inspired to achieve clear goals. You’ll see an increase in productivity too. As they reconnect with coworkers, their improved communication may lead to smoother workflows. As a result, you’ll have a well-functioning organization, no matter where people decide to work from.