This article was originally published on Othership.
COVID-19 changed the scenarios of many working arenas. So much so, that 87% of business leaders expect to offer more working flexibility post-pandemic, with many adopting hybrid work policies.
The hybrid working model allows workplace teams to blend working physically from the office with working from remote locations. A successful hybrid model is implemented effectively through positive culture and effective communication.
The hybrid model is largely reliant on technology as many workers are remotely located at any given time. Hybrid work has many variations: some workers may want to work totally on-site, others completely remotely.
Most commonly it is a blend of the two scenarios:
Having to work from home for an extended period was a game-changer for everyone during the first few months of the pandemic. Now workplaces have opened back up, being onsite full-time could be a deal-breaker for many employees who are unwilling to fully return to the office. Many do not want to give up the balance they’ve become accustomed to between their personal and professional lives. Workers now demand flexibility from their jobs. A hybrid work model is one of the best ways to do that.
Transitioning to an efficient hybrid work setting is a delicate adjustment, but for employers, it’s a great opportunity to create a healthier environment for everyone. That said, here are 5 HR policies you can adopt to accommodate your employees better for hybrid work.
Employees that are working from home face a lot of limitations when it comes to enjoying the resources physically available in the workplace. For employers, there are many opportunities to address these needs by bridging the gap between the perks offered to employees working remotely.
Employers can continue supporting workers by making reasonable provisions that could facilitate efficiency at home. This can include equipment they would otherwise have access to onsite, such as ergonomic furniture, computers, and a stable internet access. It could also extend to tweaking in-office benefits such as fitness equipment or development programs by making them remotely accessible through other means.
One of the losses that employees fear most when they work from home is the opportunity for social networking and career advancement. Especially for young employees, it’s important to feel that they can make the choice to operate remotely without losing something integral in return.
HR can actively address these concerns by offering meaningful work policies that eliminate “presence prejudice” during interactions. This means optimising meetings and gatherings, opening channels for two-way communication, and creating meet-up opportunities (such as virtual game nights or book clubs) that foster connectivity among company employees regardless of their location.
Getting back into the office is a difficult adjustment for anyone who’s spent the past year in their pyjamas, eating or sleeping any time they wish. One of the ways that workplaces can be more comfortable and inviting is by relaxing certain company restrictions, such as dress codes or lunch break, so long as they don’t impact productivity. It’s important that you allow employees to continue their energising routines by providing time for power naps, walks or snacks. This makes it easier for them to focus on their health and wellbeing even when devoting time to work onsite.
While offices are opening up, it’s important not to forget that COVID-19 is still present. Especially for essential employees whose jobs offer them no choice but to work remotely, business administrators need to double down on safety by improving onsite facilities.
Safety policies that can be implemented include vaccination requirements, sanitation stations, PPE and routine testing, social distancing measures, contact tracing, and healthcare plans. In addition to preventing outbreaks, effective safety measures also influence mental health positively among workers.
Eliminating geographical barriers offers employers more flexibility to accommodate the various limitations that employees may face. In turn, hybrid work settings can better support diversity and inclusion.
Creating inclusive policies goes beyond racial, gender, and religious differences and considers other possible limitations like health and disabilities, family commitments, and other biases that might influence employees’ presence at work. Employers can address such gaps that might be exacerbated by hybrid work setups by implementing flexible work schedules and providing options that might suit their needs at home. Remote work also allows companies to adjust their hiring practices based on skills and experiences instead of location.
Enforcing a hybrid work setting is largely uncharted territory. Companies need to do a lot of testing and tweaking to see which policies will accommodate employees best. But listening to your employees and understanding their needs is the best way to foster a company culture that meets hybrid work head on.
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