COVID-19 forced companies across the globe to send their workers home—where many have been working remotely for the past year.
But while many employees have embraced the flexibility of working from home, the majority are ready to get back into the office—at least part of the time. According to the Reimagining Human Experience study from JLL, 70 percent of employees favor a hybrid work model, which allows the flexibility to work both remotely and in the office.
Also read: Are We Witnessing The Death Of The Office?
And employers are on board. According to a recent survey from Gartner, 82 percent of company leaders said they would let employees work remotely at least some of the time after COVID-19.
But if you want to create a positive, engaging hybrid work experience for your employees, you can’t expect to continue doing what you were doing when they were working fully remote—or fully in the office. Instead, you need to reinvent the employee experience for the era of hybrid work.
But how, exactly, do you do that?
Redesign your office to support hybrid work
Chances are, your office is designed in a way that’s great for supporting a full-time in-office team—but isn’t so great at supporting a hybrid work model.
So, if you want to reinvent the employee experience in the era of hybrid work? You’re going to need to rethink your office space.
For example, if your team is going to be rotating between working in the office and working remotely, you don’t necessarily need a dedicated workstation (like a cubicle or standalone office) for each employee; otherwise, there will be a lot of empty desks on any given day—which is a wasted opportunity. Instead, think about creating more flexible workstations (like a “hot desk” setup, which allows employees to choose where they sit each day). Or let’s say you have a large conference room where you host meetings. Because meetings will now have both in-person and remote attendees, you’ll want to redesign your conference room in a way that makes meetings more effective for everyone (for example, by outfitting the room with multiple screens and video conferencing software).
The point is, if you want to create a positive hybrid work experience for your team, you need to design an office that supports that experience.
Ensure equal opportunities for remote and in-person employees
The experience of working in the office and the experience of working remotely aren’t equal. But if you want a hybrid work model to work for your organizations, you need to create equal opportunities for your team—no matter where they’re working.
For example, let’s say you decide to roll out an office wellness initiative that includes stocking the office kitchen with healthy snacks and hosting weekly outdoor yoga classes. You also need to include your remote employees in that wellness initiative—for example, by live streaming your weekly yoga classes and sending them a sample box of healthy snacks to enjoy at home.
You also need to be on the lookout for any advantages working remotely or in-person grant your employees—and make sure you’re proactively balancing out those advantages. For example, it can be easier to deliver regular feedback to employees when they’re working in an office (and you can just stop by their desk)—so it’s important to proactively schedule regular 1:1 meetings with employees who spend more time working remotely so they’re getting that same kind of feedback.
In order for your employees to thrive in a hybrid environment, the environment needs to support everyone—remote and in-office—equally. So, if you want to foster a positive employee experience, make sure you’re creating equal opportunities for all your employees, regardless of where they’re working.
Make sure your team has what they need to succeed—wherever they may be working
The foundation of a successful hybrid work model is effective collaboration between team members that are working from home and team members that are working from the office. So, when you’re thinking about employee experience in the hybrid era, it’s important to think about how you can enable that collaboration for your team.
Set your team up for success by making sure they have what they need to succeed in a hybrid environment. That means:
- investing in the right tools and software, both for staff and leadership (according to PwC’s recent US Remote Work Survey, over 60% of executives expect to raise spending on virtual collaboration tools);
- creating spaces within the office that allow in-person teams to effectively work with team members working remotely (according to the JLL study, 1 in 2 employees expect their companies to adjust office spaces to support more efficient collaboration with employees working remotely);
- and making sure that all employees have an at-home set up that lets them effectively connect and collaborate with their in-office colleagues when they’re working remotely, whether that’s a quality laptop or high-speed, reliable internet (a recent global survey from Slack found that nearly a quarter of remote workers struggle with unstable internet connectivity).
Bottom line? If you’re going to move forward with a hybrid work model—and you want the experience to be a positive, productive one for your employees—setting your team up for successful, effective collaboration is a must.
Ask your team for feedback about how to improve employee experience
You may have ideas about how to reinvent the employee experience as you make the shift to a hybrid work environment. But your employees are your best resource for identifying what’s working, what’s not working, and how you can make their experience at work better.
So, if you want to know how to improve employee experience in the era of hybrid work? Just ask them.
As you’re adapting to a hybrid work model, make sure you’re checking in with your team regularly and asking for feedback on how you can create a better employee experience. For example, are you concerned about remote employees feeling isolated when working from home? Ask them for feedback on how you can make them feel more “a part of” what’s happening in the office—even when they’re not there. Are you noticing issues with productivity and collaboration? Send out a survey and ask your team how you can empower them to work better and more collaboratively—no matter where they’re working from.
Your employees are the ones having the hybrid work experience. So, if you want to make that experience better, there’s no one better to ask for feedback.
When you pivot to a new work model, you need to do everything you can to make the pivot a positive one for your team—and that includes pivoting to a hybrid work model. But now that you know exactly how to reinvent the employee experience in the era of hybrid work, you have everything you need to make a seamless transition to a hybrid work model—and empower your team in the process.
Do you want to learn more about the challenges and best practices of hybrid work? Read our white paper on this topic:
Access White Paper
In our white paper “Future of Work: Make Way for Hybrid Work!” you’ll discover the eight main challenges of hybrid work; best practices managers, HR, internal communication, IT and employees all can adopt; and the tools for facilitating hybrid work.
Author: Deanna deBara