Tips for a successful hybrid work environment

Remote work has created flexibility for employers and employees. Therefore, it’s important to understand how to manage a hybrid work model.

Remote work has created flexibility for employers and employees. Therefore, it’s important to understand how to manage a hybrid work model so that it works for everyone.

What is hybrid work?

A hybrid work environment is a modern working method that combines in-office and remote settings. Instead of working entirely remotely or 100% in an office, the hybrid work model offers employees the best of both worlds.


How does a hybrid work environment differ from the in-person or fully remote experience?

Hybrid work environments involve in-office and remote employees, so the office space is used differently. It's possible to use a smaller area since fewer people will be in the building at any one time, saving money and resources. Also, the workspace may be configured differently to enable collaborative working. Co-working spaces are one option, especially for small businesses and satellite offices. You can easily adjust your office size as you scale up or down, shift some office admin to building management, and leverage conference rooms and individual call rooms as needed. However, this setup can also present some issues.

For example, projects will undoubtedly be very different when some people are physically at the office and others remotely. If team members work remotely on certain days, they may miss information or instructions presented in the office. This could lead to communication difficulties, collaboration challenges, reduction in employee productivity, or confusion over roles and tasks.

There are also differences in terms of leadership and mentorship. Treatment must be fair and equal between staff members working remotely and those working in the office. All team members must receive the same level of support, be managed in the same way, and get the same respect and opportunities for advancement.

Consider the company culture and how teams communicate. It's easy for silos to form when remote work is involved. Over-communication is useful with a hybrid team to make sure everyone is informed. That may mean a combination of methods to ensure the message gets across. Communication goes both ways, so make sure your employees have a way to communicate improvement needs.

What HR considerations are there?

The HR team must consider several factors to ensure the hybrid workplace runs smoothly and that the staff enjoy their experience.

Remote or in-office working – Who decides?

HR should ensure that line managers consult with employees when choosing to work from home or in the office. Different companies can adhere to distinct systems. For example, employees may have the freedom to select their schedule or comply with a mix of in-office/remote working patterns. Whatever the company's plan is for the future, it must set its policy in all legal documents, including the employee contract, employee handbook, and HR policy. However, this may adjust in the next few months, following the current advice for returning to the office.

The onboarding process

It's crucial to warrant a digitised onboarding process with software such as Moonworkers to make it simple and convenient for those working remotely or in the office. A fully digital onboarding process ensures nothing gets lost during the process, whether it's paperwork, pension, or benefits and commissions. It's also easier to manage, leaves an excellent impression on all employees, and ensures consistency.

Health and safety considerations

While it's possible to control the office environment for those working in that setting, it isn't always possible to maintain the environment for remote or hybrid workers. It is essential to prioritise employee wellbeing by drafting new health and safety rules before enrolling your first remote worker. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a risk assessment that helps you evaluate stress and mental health, screen equipment and staff’s work environment. Providing suitable training around this subject is necessary to protect your employees and business. Finally, HR and line managers must carry out regular checks to guarantee compliance.

Where and when will work be done?

HR teams may also need to develop a hybrid arrangement for place and time to suit different needs. For example, parents may need more flexibility than entry-level workers in terms of working hours or unexpectedly working from home. Moreover, physical office locations may directly impact employees work-life balance. For example, long commutes could impact employee turnover.

Create or update documentation that clarifies how to adjust to a hybrid model. The documentation will help employees understand the flexibility they have with remote work. This can also provide an advantage in the hiring process as well. Potential hires have adjusted to working remotely and need to understand the policy you offer as they consider joining your team.

Planning for inclusion

When employees have a non-traditional working arrangement, unconscious exclusion can occur. For example, office workers could forget to keep their remote peers in the loop regarding important updates and information. Moreover, managers who aren't used to leading remote teams might not treat all employees the same way. For instance, it might be more convenient to promote employees that meet regularly in person. So, managers need to ensure they are fair, inclusive and transparent in their decision making, so they do not inadvertently discriminate against any employee.

Offering adequate support

HR teams must support all employees regardless of their working arrangements. However, because remote employees primarily interact virtually, their mental health and wellbeing can be overlooked. But just like anyone else, they might suffer from stress, anxiety, or isolation. Therefore, HR needs to ensure that line management regularly carries out check-ins on employees and provides enough support wherever they work.

Keeping an eye on workloads

Remote teams receive a never-ending communication stream through different channels - slack, emails, WhatsApp, and Zoom. Unfortunately, some workers might not cut the line with these channels outside of office hours. As a result, they feel pressured to demonstrate their productivity while out of the office.

HR teams should set an agreement stating that employees have no duties to respond outside of office hours to prevent this problem.

Encouraging flexibility

Hybrid working can be difficult initially, especially for teams that have traditionally worked in an office together. It can sound weird or intimidating to require something urgent from a colleague next to us or change meeting schedules to accommodate everybody. However, with a proper framework and a flexible approach, employees will eventually overcome the situation and discover new ways of working.

Lisa Sherman

HR Generalist

Lisa is a CIPD qualified Chartered FCIPD & CIPD Disciplinary Panel Chair and Investigations Reviewer