Employees and organizations alike want more structure around hybrid work, according to recent research.
The vast majority of people (73%) want to come into the office when they know their colleagues are there, because they can collaborate, connect, and build community. A structured hybrid work model supports flexibility and work life balance while also enabling people to have certainty around when they and their colleagues can come together.
Organizations are moving toward structured hybrid work policies that allow for flexibility and scheduling certainty. According to Robin’s Productivity and Proximity report, more than 2 out of 3 business leaders mandate that employees work from the office two or three days a week, while 43% of surveyed leaders said their organizations plan to increase RTO mandates in the coming year.
So while the trend toward structured hybrid and flexible work, is unmistakable, here’s how your organization can define, implement, and improve a hybrid work policy in 4 steps.
Step #1: Define Your Hybrid Work Policy
Multiple versions of structured hybrid work exist. Decide which version of hybrid work will work best for the needs of your people. The good news is that the majority of employees want a more structured approach to hybrid work – a recent Gallup poll found that six in 10 hybrid employees want more structure. But different people can have diverse viewpoints about what “structure” should look like.
According to Gallup, the extremes are not popular, with 8% of people wanting to come in 1 day per week and 8% wanting to come in 4-5 days per week. That leaves the overwhelming majority (84%) of employees preferring to come in between 2 and 4 days per week.
As you set out to define your hybrid work policies, start by exploring employee expectations. What are reasonable parameters for remote working in their view? What constitutes a good balance between office time and working from home? How can you create a flexible work model that encourages in person work and employee collaboration while also giving teams the freedom to work remotely?
Once you know where your employees stand, turn to the data. How is your office space currently being used for different job functions? What days are most employees already coming in? Using these insights can help you build a policy that feels more natural to teams.
Take your learnings and then consider what has worked for other companies like yours. Some organizations, because of the type of work they do, might be best suited to a “remote work-first” approach, with a limited number of days per month (or per quarter) in the office, while other organizations' job duties would mean people need to come in most days.
There are a range of different ways to achieve a structured hybrid work arrangement. For instance, you might want people in the office 40% of the time during core working hours, but could measure that over a month or quarter instead of a mandatory 2x per week. Determine what hybrid model makes the most sense for your team and then get to testing.
Step #2: Enable Your People with the Right Resources
Make sure to support employees with the technology they need to work effectively within the hybrid working model. In office workers need access to bookable resources and spaces for everything from team meetings to individual work.
Without a desk booking or a meeting room booking solution, for example, you can’t implement hot desking or hoteling within a structured hybrid work policy. Your people will come into the office and fight over available desks and meeting spaces, which is like using “Game of Thrones” as a policy template. Bad idea, with lots of interpersonal friction (if not dragons).
Whether it's hybrid or remote work, you need to ensure your teams have the resources they need to get their best work done. Flexible work arrangements require technology that can support people regardless of their location.
Step #3: Drive Adoption of Your Hybrid Work Policy
When rolling out your hybrid work policy, it’s a good idea to over-communicate rather than risk not communicating enough. Here’s how to drive widespread adoption:
1. Document your hybrid work policy, and the goals underlying it, in a written document that’s readily accessible to all. Acknowledge in writing that you’ll revisit and (likely) revise the strategy based on feedback/performance metrics.
Write that policy announcement and have the big meeting, but continue to reinforce the policy with regular communications via multiple channels. Think “two-way conversation” rather than “pronouncement from on high.”
2. Designate and empower employee advocates/ambassadors who, in addition to helping you develop your hybrid work policy, can also facilitate organizational adoption. These representatives can educate team leaders and managers on what the policy requires, as well as helping create a communication plan/approach (with emails/videos/live presentations etc.) to drive policy adoption.
3. Clearly discuss and define the policy’s “why” – the benefits it brings – as well as laying out consequences for non-compliance. People will justifiably want to know how the policy benefits them and their organization. Understanding what drives the policy can encourage employees and help them adopt new ways of working more quickly.
Tell them, then keep telling them. If people have good faith objections or exception requests for working remotely, offer them a channel to communicate those (and have your leadership team consider them).
Step #4: Measure and Improve Your Policy’s Performance
Last but not least, put performance metrics or KPIs (key performance indicators) behind your hybrid work policy. Your metrics should connect to the underlying goals your policy seeks to deliver/drive so you can measure and improve ongoing performance.
- Are your people more or less productive?
- How is overall employee performance?
- Are teams more or less engaged?
- How are your retention and recruitment rates?
- What’s the policy’s impact on collaboration and culture?
Be prepared to course-correct based on stakeholder feedback and actual conditions on the ground. You need to monitor your pre-defined metrics on a regular basis. Collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data in order to measure policy performance, including workplace analytics, employee feedback, observations of in-office morale, and more.
When the metrics are showing underperformance, make adjustments accordingly and measure how the changes are doing. That said, don’t make too many big adjustments in a short time: “change fatigue” can create its own problems.
Structured Hybrid: It’s the Future of Work
Moving forward, hybrid working will become more structured. People want to know what’s expected of them and also want clarity around when their colleagues are in the office so they can collaborate and build connections. Organizations, for their part, want the office to be a hub for in-person teamwork, strengthening company culture and community-building.
“Hybrid work helps employees get the most out of their day while ensuring they feel connected to coworkers and the organization,” explains the Gallup report, The Future of Hybrid Work. A structured hybrid approach, no matter how defined, can deliver the best features of flexibility and human connection.
Learn more about how Robin can help with customizable hybrid work solutions.