According to McKinsey, organization leaders lack certainty about what the post-pandemic workplace should look like. Employees are firm on keeping flexibility and autonomy, making hybrid work adoption a must-have for most workplaces. However, specifying the details of hybrid work arrangements in a hybrid work policy is one of the most meticulous and stressful parts of the transition process. Poor operational decision-making can lead to financial losses, reduced productivity, and a wave of employee resignations.
In this post, we share our experience of designing a hybrid work policy based on assisting over 2,200 organizations worldwide in switching to the hybrid work model.
What is a hybrid work policy?
A hybrid work policy is a set of guidelines that regulate the model’s adoption in the organization. It should clearly define the hybrid work schedule, and the roles eligible and non-eligible (if any) for hybrid work.
Also, a hybrid work policy should outline best practices for all processes within the organization: project management, onboarding new hires, team building, connecting with clients in-person, and remotely, and so on.
It should also offer payroll guidelines – for example, location-based coefficients if employees’ salaries fluctuate depending on their physical locations.
Key components of a hybrid work policy
A hybrid work policy should be explicit enough to guide managers through all aspects of the transition. It should give managers of all departments across the organization a clear, unified rulebook, while employees should be able to find answers to their questions in the document.
oVice has adopted the hybrid model since the project’s first days. Also, we help teams transition to the new model by enabling them with easy-to-use, hybrid-oriented communication technology.
As a result, we have done a lot of work in creating hybrid work policies or helping companies of all scales set them up. In our experience, here are the key components of a successful hybrid work policy guideline:
1. The reason for the transition
Moving to the hybrid model is a highly impactful decision – that’s why team leaders should take the time to explain the rationale behind the move. We recommend explaining your move to hybrid work from various perspectives:
- Operational: cost-cutting opportunities, time-savings, wider talent pool, and other advantages of the new model
- Employee-centered: the benefits the new model offers to the team
- Client-focused: how clients will benefit from the company running both on-site and remotely
- Risk-oriented: how hybrid work impacts the company’s resilience, adaptability, and change-resistance.
2. Stages and key milestones of hybrid work transition
Hybrid work adoption is a multi-step process that takes months or years to complete. Including the roadmap in hybrid work policies will keep your team updated and give team leaders a sense of direction.
A hybrid work policy statement should mention the following:
- Expected timeline for a full transition. Include a best- and worst-case scenario (eg. 10-24 months).
- Stages of the process: redesigning or scaling down office spaces, finding the right tools, creating a hybrid work schedule, adjusting payroll and tax policies, and others.
- Metrics to evaluate the success of the transition: set benchmarks for productivity and revenue increase, cost savings, improved speed of hiring, and other benefits the organization expects to get out of the transition. You can review these later to determine if your hybrid work strategy is successful.
3. Budget for the transition
A hybrid work policy should specify how many resources the organization allocates to each team on monthly expenses related to hybrid work adoption – software tools, hardware for remote employees, office maintenance, and others.
Setting a budget cap helps make sure the transition doesn’t put an unpredictable strain on the company’s resources.
4. Roles and responsibilities
Planning and overseeing a hybrid work transition is a complex process – that’s why we recommend creating roles within the organization – this way, there is someone responsible for the success of the process.
A hybrid work policy should let the team know who is in charge of hybrid work adoption, and outline the responsibilities, as well as success metrics associated with a new job title.
5. Hybrid work schedule
A defined hybrid work schedule approved by the entire team is the centerpiece of a successful hybrid work strategy. Team leaders in charge of the transition should define attendance rules (how many days a week employees should come to the office) and collect feedback among employees to make sure everyone is on the same page.
As hybrid work gains momentum, new approaches to setting up the schedule appear. Some companies let go of the old-fashioned “WFH/office split” and allows their employees to choose where they work five days a week.
Others no longer pressure teammates to come to one physical location by partnering with co-working spaces all over the world or setting up virtual office spaces.
Learn more about all types of hybrid schedules in our guide to creating a hybrid work calendar.
6. Hybrid work tools
Switching to hybrid work might change your company’s collaboration stack. For example, office-only teams will need to use remote collaboration platforms once they embrace the new models. Similarly, remote-only teams will need to look for tools that help align office and remote teams as they open physical spaces.
As you review your organization’s hybrid work stack, document the changes and the rationale behind them in the hybrid work policy. At oVice, we have a continuously updated Internal tools Notion page where we list all the tools each department uses to enable hybrid work. We also have pages where teammates can submit tool ideas for review.
7. Best communication and team management practices
Specify the guiding principles of hybrid work adoption across the organization to make sure every department is aligned and follows unified practices.
Before they make a shift to hybrid work, leaders should understand that new challenges will appear and create practices that encourage managers to prioritize workplace equality, visibility, and diversity.
Here are the key areas to address in a hybrid work policy statement:
- Alignment – practices that connect remote and office employees.
- Equality – making sure no employee category is overlooked (for example, remote employees don’t work less than in-office counterparts or are not overlooked for promotions).
- Operational efficiency: practices that help eliminate redundancies and help employees be productive in the hybrid model.
- Accessibility and transparency: developing guidelines that help make sure everyone on the team is involved in decision making, has access to all data (meeting logs, news, strategies), and can easily synchronize with the rest of the team.
Who should be in charge of hybrid work policies?
As mentioned above, creating a job role within the company that would consist of planning, overseeing, and analyzing the hybrid work transition will help structure the process and improve accountability.
As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to create a workplace manager role if you don’t have one yet. This professional’s job responsibilities will include:
- Optimizing hybrid operations
- Pinpointing problems during and discovering new solutions
- Helping the team transition to the new model – helping design and optimize workflows, collecting feedback
- Applying the transition budget to strengthening the company’s hybrid work infrastructure
- Creating guidelines and internal documentation for the organization
- Analyzing the progress of hybrid work transition and making sure the company is meeting its objectives.
Workplace managers can report to the leader of the HR department or the COO.
Other stakeholders in creating and executing hybrid work policies are:
- HR and talent managers: their responsibility is to make sure new employees feel no friction when joining a hybrid environment, teammates have enough tools for continuous education and carer development, and there’s no disconnect between employees and managers.
- The tech department is essential in setting up and maintaining the hybrid infrastructure.
- Finance and accounting departments will help align the company’s hybrid schedule policy with payroll, keep track of all transition-associated expenses, and ensure that the company’s transition process comes with no financial damage.
Best practices for adopting hybrid work policies
Robust hybrid work policies that cover all elements of the transition are crucial to the success of hybrid work adoption. Still, they are only effective when implemented across the entire organization and create no pushback within teams.
How can organization leaders and workplace managers streamline the executive of hybrid work policies? Our team has tested different practices – over time, we discovered several helpful tactics in promoting a hybrid approach:
1. Have the team approve the policy before making the final call
A hybrid work policy is one of the key documents for a hybrid organization, with a “shelf life” of years. Before you share it with the team, make sure everyone knows about the changes that are to come and is onboard.
To make sure that friction from employees doesn’t take you by surprise, make all policy decisions (timeline, schedule, tools, processes) as a team. Running anonymous polls on Slack or collecting anonymous answers to a Google Forms survey is a way to give everyone freedom of self-expression.
2. Share the hybrid work policy organization-wide and keep the document accessible
After you drafted and approved the hybrid work policy, share the document with all teams and make sure department leaders and teammates (including new hires) can easily access it on Google Drive, Notion, or other platforms you use to organize internal documentation.
Breaking the document into searchable chapters will also help improve navigation and give employees answers to specific questions saving managers a lot of time.
4. Start gradually
Our experience of working with large-scale organizations shows that most organizations feel overwhelmed by the need to introduce hybrid work across the entire company in one blow.
That’s why they start testing changes one department at a time, reducing resource strain and improving the company’s resilience – in case the hybrid work transition fails, it will be easier to revert to the former model.
5. Ask department leaders for assistance to foster the change
If you are a C-suite leader planning on introducing hybrid work to the team, you need ways to make sure all teams are on board with the plan.
At oVice, C-level leaders communicate all strategic decisions to department leaders who share them with managers and make sure the change spreads across the organization.
By getting support from managers and encouraging them to lead by example, organization leaders will speed up hybrid work adoption and reduce the stress of the process.
6. Create feedback channels for communicating with the team
Hybrid work adoption is a dynamic process – along the way, team leaders need to react to changes within the organization – people resigning and joining, strategic changes – as well as outside risks – market fluctuations, economic turbulence, political shifts, surges of COVID cases. All of these can affect the hybrid work strategy and call for changes.
To keep tabs on internal signals and see how teams react to outside news, set up channels where employees can offer reasonable changes to hybrid work policies.
These may include:
- Revision of hybrid work eligibility and schedule.
- Adopting new internal tools
- Adding new communication practices or addressing ongoing issues
- Revisiting the timeline and benchmarks for hybrid work transition.
Team leaders should make it easy for employees to share opinions by running regular surveys and polls, sharing emails asking teammates for feedback, and creating Slack channels dedicated to workplace management.
7. Analyze and reflect
Team leaders should have a habit of looking back at how well the team accepts hybrid work policies and align expectations with reality. By analyzing the progress the team has made in hybrid work transition, organization managers will be able to pinpoint and work through challenges, improving productivity and employee satisfaction in the long run.
We recommend reviewing hybrid work policies on a quarterly basis and constantly staying on the lookout for ways to optimize processes.
While the challenges and operational changes associated with hybrid work transition can seem overwhelming to team leaders, in our experience, long-term productivity gains and improved appeal to job applicants tip the scale in the favor of the new model. On top of that, an intentional, researched, and agreed-upon hybrid work policy helps smoothen the edges of the transition.
Using the right technology is also a crucial component of hybrid work success. Our team’s approach to the model heavily relies on using a virtual office rather than physical space. It helps leaders instantly connect with employees across the globe. Also, we helped over 2,200 organizations worldwide adopt virtual office spaces and create a new, flexible and limitless approach to hybrid work.
Learn more about our solutions for hybrid and remote teams. Explore the platform by visiting the oVice tour space.