After nearly a year of pandemic-related roadblocks, business owners may feel like circumstances have taught them everything about telework and managing employees both near and far. On the other hand, some business owners may still gravitate towards a strictly on-site model for better collaboration and simpler secure IT. As workers slowly shift to the “new normal” moving forward, and make their long-term needs clear, it may be time to consider a permanent hybrid workforce option.
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A May 2020 study of US workers concluded that 55% want some mixture of home and office working in the future. Workers identified that working from home can be easier on employees who have long commutes, require flexible scheduling, or work better outside normal office hours. This is one of many reasons why global companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Dropbox, and Box have all created hybrid work-from-home programs that allow their employees more versatility. Whether your temporary telework solution has been successful or you’re just coming to terms with a partially remote work future, it is time to consider adopting a hybrid remote work model.
How does a hybrid work-from-home model differ from more traditional remote or flexible work models?
Planning is the main key difference between a hybrid model and fully remote or flexible models. The hybrid work-from-home model is not the stop-gap options hastily built in early 2020 to cope with changing regulations. A hybrid work-from-home offering is a permanent option for employees and should be implemented with the care and caution necessary for this shift.
Hybrid telework models look different from company to company, but the universal idea is to allow versatility and autonomy relative to your business’s individual needs. Some workers may find working from home most days and coming into the office one or two days a week works best for them, while others may alternate one week in-house and the next week at home.
You can also implement a hybrid model by department. This could look like hands-on workers and management working from the office while your marketing or accounting teams remain at home where everything they need is accessible remotely.
Hybrid models can significantly reduce overhead, as employees not physically present at the office aren’t using electricity and other resources—including internet bandwidth, depending on your telework model. This can be a helpful way for businesses to right-size their office space and technological needs.
A few things to keep in mind when considering a hybrid telework model:
- Scheduling: Keeping a company-wide calendar through a service like Office 365 will help you to schedule meetings, trainings, orientations, and other collaborative events on days when remote employees will be in the office. This will reserve workdays at home for more in-depth, solo work, while also maintaining employee relationships and company culture.
- Documenting: Create policy with telework in mind. This means taking into consideration the needs of both office and home workers, like adjusting expected response times for emails or messages and instead calling if something is urgent. It also means remembering your in-office workers are only a part of the team, and decisions, projects, or options may need more than impromptu in-office meetings.
- Checking in: Communication is the most essential part of any telework model. Make sure your communication style and methods work for everyone, not just those at home or in-house. A lack of inclusive communication—or a lack of communication in general—will lead to team members feeling, and often being, out of the loop. Communication methods that worked when everyone was working remotely might not be as effective in a hybrid model. Continue to make adjustments as needed.
- Maintaining security: At the office, everyone knows to check with a coworker if you receive a sketchy-looking email, but mindsets can be vastly different at home. A shift in work environments still needs to maintain the same continuity of cyber security as the brick-and-mortar office. This means doing due diligence about each employee’s home office hardware and ensuring that security measures like MFA and cyber security training are implemented for your team.
- Technology: While employees may have been able to BYOD (bring your own device) during a temporary or emergency work-from-home period, planning for a long-term hybrid approach should include upgrades to necessary hardware. For employees regularly spending time both remote and in the office, a company-owned laptop with a dock in the office is a solution that extends enterprise-security effectively and removes many of the risk-introducing variables of BYOD.
Working from home is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Building an effective hybrid model means preparing for the possibility that what works for employees right now might be different in six months’ time. Whether you’re fully remote or transitioning to a hybrid telework model, setting up the essential infrastructure and knowing what your team needs should be the biggest factors in creating a hybrid model that works for everyone.
Do you want to implement a secure hybrid telework model but aren’t sure where to begin? Check out our telework guide and connect with us today!