Many companies have started to consider how they can benefit from remote operations. You may find that you aren’t ready to go fully distanced. However, a hybrid structure may meet your needs. This tends to involve offering staff opportunities to work from home some of the time while also keeping the bulk of activities on-site. It can also involve building teams in which some staff are always remote while other roles are only in the office.
Whichever approach you’re considering, it’s important to recognize that this type of operation shouldn’t be improvised. You need to have a strong hybrid work policy that is supported by clear protocols.
Let’s take a look at some of the elements you must include in your hybrid work policy.
Communication must be considered one of the priorities of any hybrid work policy. Your teams are likely to spread across different locations and in some cases operating on different schedules. Without excellent communication practices, you’re likely to experience lapses in productivity, engagement, and collaboration. The stronger and clearer you can make your policies, the more effective they’re likely to be.
Your hybrid work policies in respect of communication should include:
One of the benefits of hybrid operations is that there are various different effective methods of communication. This could include direct messaging, email, video conferencing, phone calls, and community message boards. However, unless there’s clarity on how and when to use these tools, operations can get quickly out of hand. It’s important to establish which forms of communication should be used for each type of circumstance or task.
Another often overlooked aspect of communications in regard to hybrid work policy is frequency. If staff primarily working from home don’t have regular contact with managers and colleagues, they can very quickly become disconnected and disengaged. Setting standards for how often different types of communication should be used helps ensure everybody is meaningfully connected. However, it’s also important to set limits on how often managers check in with staff at home, to avoid the potential damage that can be caused through micromanagement.
In remote working scenarios, the communicative action in itself shouldn’t be the only consideration. There also need to be protocols surrounding how different types of communication are documented. After all, if mistakes are made or instructions need to be clarified, it’s important for key members of staff to have a record of communications for review. Remote meetings between teams or individuals may need to be followed-up with an email. Collaborative planning or ideation documents, like mind maps, might need to be stored on an accessible cloud platform.
Hybrid operations offer a variety of advantages. However, to make the most of these, your hybrid work policy needs to have a certain amount of structure. One of the most important aspects of this is solid work from home scheduling. Without clear processes in place here, your team members can become confused and even resentful.
Some elements your policy needs to focus on here include:
Many businesses today find that they can function effectively with largely remote workforces. However, a lot of companies will still have some roles that aren’t suitable for remote operations. Indeed, you may also find you want to limit the opportunities for remote work to those that have passed a certain level of training and are able to operate independently. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to outline the work-from-home eligibility criteria to your staff. This shouldn’t just include who is eligible, but also the reasons why some workers may not yet be eligible.
There may be times in which most staff are eligible for hybrid working, but there still needs to be a certain number of staff on your premises at any given time. In this instance, your policy needs to strive to offer balanced home working opportunities to teams. Management must not favor some staff members above others. There should also be clear processes and communications channels in place to raise issues about unfair practices and resolve them.
If your staff are going to collaborate effectively in a hybrid environment, they need to know where one another is likely to be working from. As such, your hybrid work policy needs to include protocols to boost the visibility of team members’ locations. You may consider arranging a daily check-in system on your company intranet or project management software. This will allow all workers to know where their colleagues are and how to contact them. The team schedule could also include location details in advance, should meetings or collaborations need to be arranged ahead of time.
Any business thrives or falls by the behavior of its stakeholders. When staff — from executives to entry level workers — behave poorly, this has a negative impact on everyone involved with the business. In hybrid circumstances, workers aren’t all in the same space to be positively influenced by one another. At the same time, excessive monitoring of remote workers can be detrimental to building trust and can limit the innovation flexibility can bring. As such, setting forth behavioral expectations in your hybrid work policy can give all workers clarity on how they should act.
Points to cover could include:
The ethics demonstrated by your stakeholders are a reflection of the values of your company. As such, your hybrid work policy should also communicate how company ethics apply to remote operations. This could include expectations surrounding how workers treat company equipment, data, and other resources away from the office. It may involve highlighting and prohibiting forms of discrimination that remote workers tend to experience in hybrid situations.
One of the concerns many businesses have is that employees working some of the time from home may not be as productive as when they are in the office. While there are statistics supporting both sides of this, it’s important to bolster productivity in your policy. This shouldn’t just include setting expectations for how productive remote workers need to be. Rather, the policy should include provision of tools, support, and training that helps workers be at their most productive no matter where they operate from.
Virtual Meeting Etiquette
Virtual meetings are an essential component of any hybrid policy. However, without clear standards of etiquette, such meetings can be unproductive and disengaging. It’s important to ensure all workers understand how to be inclusive during meetings no matter where workers are attending from. Facilitators should also know how to structure a virtual meeting to ensure equal opportunities for involvement. There should also be collaborative software in place to ensure all attendees can contribute to their full potential.
A strong hybrid work policy is essential to ensure all stakeholders get the most out of this format of operations. It must include clear guidelines on how and when staff should communicate with one another, alongside processes for documenting their missives. Your approach should also be built on fair and straightforward scheduling protocols. Remember, too, that your policy should cover the high behavioral standards expected of those both in and away from the office environment. There are significant advantages to a hybrid working policy, so it’s important to take the time to ensure yours is as clear and effective as possible.