Remember when the world shut down and most of our human interaction was through a computer screen? As much as we’d all like to forget that – it’d be a mistake too. The COVID-19 Pandemic taught society many lessons and changed work forever. To forget how COVID-19 changed our professional lives is a mistake for any leadership team and a recipe for losing out on the best talent because there’s no turning back the clock. Hybrid work, one of the main changes to a work life that came out of the pandemic, is something every manager should carefully design in 2023. So – how should leadership design hybrid work policies in 2023?
Hybrid work, remote work, or back-in-the-office full-time
A big part of designing your hybrid work policy is determining if you want one. Every organization has different needs, different operations, and a different type of workforce. If you are a restaurant, remote work doesn’t make sense – to an extent. Perhaps your corporate office would work great with 3 times a week and a hybrid model policy. For your digital team, perhaps the best website developer you could find lives far across the country – and that department would be best served with a 100% remote policy.
Remote, hybrid, and in-office policies don’t just vary based on the needs of different organizations, they can vary based on the different needs within organizations. So, when designing your office work policy, ask yourselves these questions:
- Would one policy work for my entire organization?
- If my organization is not a one-fits-all situation, what sectors require different policies?
Designing the best hybrid work policy
If you ask yourselves those two questions, and your organization needs a remote or 100% back-to-office policy, congratulations – most of the work is done. It’s easy to write up a policy that says everyone is remote, or everyone has to come to the office.
Where it can get tricky, is writing a Hybrid Office Policy. How many days should be in office? Is it a weekly or monthly policy? What employee groups will it apply to? Those are just a few questions that every management team needs to consider. One major step leadership must take when starting the policy design process is gauging employee opinion.
How employers feel about hybrid work versus how employees feel
Right now, employees and employers have a difference in opinion on hybrid work. Differences in opinion happen all the time and should not be a cause for concern – if handled correctly. The first step to settling a difference of opinion is to understand what the other side wants and compare that to what you want.
A survey by Cisco Canada showed that employees expect more work-from-home flexibility, while employers see hybrid or remote work as a perk and are tightening the policy to include more mandatory office days.
Again – this difference in opinion is not the end of the world. In fact, the survey data showed that both sides were satisfied with hybrid work, so the task at hand is negotiating around the margins. Employees have worthy concerns. 51% of men and 59% of women in the survey said “flexibility and choice in how, when and where they work” was a priority. From an employer perspective, they view being in an office as important for everyone learning and growing – which benefits the employers, but also the career of employees.
A Hybrid policy that works for workers and employers
Building a hybrid work policy that works for both sides is possible, and well worth the hard work. However, it should be noted that it will require “trial and error”. To get the right policy, you’ll likely have to experiment with how many days the team should be in the office (3 days a week? 2 days?) and what those days should be (Monday to Wednesday, or self-scheduling with an online tool so everyone can see who’s supposed to be in office and when) and even what type of meetings to hold when everyone is in the same physical space (Educational meetings? Updates on what everyone is doing?).
So yes, there will be a mess – but mess in the service of success. And a mess that must be surrounded with communication – feedback surveys, asking questions during employee one-on-ones – all to gauge how your current hybrid policy iteration is doing.
Hybrid policy tips that you should consider
So, we’ll leave you with the following tips you should consider when designing your hybrid work policy:
- During extreme weather events, let your employees know the day before or early morning if they don’t have to come in. Safety first!
- Make the most of your in-office days. Be it social or educational opportunities, employers and employees should both seek to get as much value as possible when in the office
- Consider adding a new benefit to your offerings that makes hybrid work easier. A stipend for commuting to make in-office days easier on the wallet. Or a stipend for ergonomic equipment so employees know their bosses care about their wellbeing at home too.
That’s just a few – best of luck with the experimenting!