To determine how to best implement a hybrid work model, executives need to stay focused on key considerations, such as employee scheduling, collaboration, communication and flexible workplace technology

The pandemic transformed the modern workplace—virtually overnight, a majority of organizations were forced to adapt from everyday in-office work to fully remote. Rising vaccination rates across the country have enabled some companies to return to the office while many will go back in January 2022. However, the return looks dramatically different than pre-Covid times, and organizations must consider how the shift has changed both the nature of work as well as employees’ attitudes. The future of work is hybrid, and there is no one-size-fits-all arrangement for hybrid workplaces. Depending on where your organization falls on the hybrid work spectrum will determine other considerations for how your team might operate. Read on to learn how three major organizations have adopted their hybrid work models as well as considerations for success.

 

What is hybrid work?

A hybrid work model blends together elements of on-site and remote work in order to achieve an optimal balance for employees and managers within an organization. A truly effective hybrid work model encourages and achieves more autonomy and flexibility for companies and individuals than a traditional work model, which typically required employees to commute to a single office site Monday through Friday. A hybrid work future must balance the in-person benefits of face-to-face communication, team culture and innovation with the convenience and flexibility that remote work offers. Variations exist within hybrid work models, ranging from on-site workplace frequency to geographical differences. As a result, it’s important for organizations to understand challenges and risks posed for each variation, ranging from space management and team promotions, to DEI efforts and gender equality

 

Organizations leading the future of hybrid work models

Several large organizations have already determined what their hybrid workforce will look like. Company leaders have had to answer pertinent questions in figuring out what hybrid structure will serve them and their employees best. These are just some of the questions to consider. To figure out the specific details of their hybrid models, executives have also had to consider which days of the week employees can work remotely versus on-site, which roles are applicable to be fully remote, how physical space is managed, adherence to health and safety guidelines, overall costs and whether hybrid work is centralized by the organization, or decentralized and implemented by individual teams and managers.

 

Google

Among the companies leading the way on the in-office side of the hybrid work spectrum is Google. Since the summer, Google has been operating under a global, voluntary return-to-office policy. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) CEO Sundar Pichai said that “the future of work will be flexible, it will have inherent flexibility built into it. We deeply believe in the power of getting people together.” For Google’s 3-2 hybrid model, employees will work three days in-office, with two days off for flexibility to work from anywhere. Over time, the company is looking to remotely accommodate about 20% of its workforce. Once January 2022 arrives, decisions about hybrid work will be made locally, instead of centrally. 

The company has had to consider how it will use its preexisting offices to accommodate a variation of team schedules as well as ensuring collaboration spaces are fun and enticing for people to visit. In bringing people back to the office, a main consideration has been how to continue to incorporate the flexibility employees have come to know and love. In addition to built-in “reset days,” Googlers will be able to temporarily work from a location other than their main office for up to 4 weeks per year, with manager approval. To accommodate a rotating mix of in-office and remote personnel, the company must decide on different technology applications and physical meeting room arrangements. Additionally, they’ve employed desk rotation schedules to facilitate appropriate social distancing as well as seamless resource usage.

 

Citigroup

Citigroup is another large organization that has primarily adopted a three days in-office, two days remote hybrid work policy. However, a major difference is that the banking organization employed three separate models for its employees: hybrid, resident and remote. Citigroup had to consider the large range of roles its organization has and job functions that cannot be performed off-site. With a huge chunk of the firm requiring apprenticeship and rapid feedback for its bankers, returning to on-site was imperative. To establish these models, the company focused on four major company themes that were important for a majority of their employee roles: belonging, apprenticeship/learning, competitiveness/performance and collaboration. Using core company attributes as anchors can help steer an organization towards a work model that it needs to succeed. Though the company requires a majority on-site presence, the company has balanced their decision with a big focus on setting healthy work boundaries. Earlier this year, CEO Jane Fraser implemented internal “zoom-free Fridays” to address screen fatigue and pandemic-related burnout, as well as boundaries around scheduling calls outside of traditional working hours and through lunch.

 

Adobe

Adobe started its hybrid work model implementation and decision process by surveying its employees and conducting focus groups. The creative technology company wanted to ensure it could continue to provide an exceptional employee experience, regardless of geographical location. Their hybrid work bottom line includes being digital-first and flexible by default, with employees working from home or remotely approximately 50% of the time. To help employees navigate a new hybrid environment, Adobe created an app called Adobe Life. Through the app, employees can find pertinent forms required for going to the office, access remote or work-from-home resources and benefits, stay up-to-date on workplace news and connect with others within the organization. For a company that considers itself people-centric, leveraging a mix of physical and virtual presences was key.

 

Key considerations for implementing a hybrid model

Deciding on a hybrid model is one thing, but ensuring that the organization continues to achieve success is another. Drawing from the above organizational examples, here are five ways to continue ensuring a hybrid work model is working for your company.

 

  1. Collect feedback from employees. How are they adapting to hybrid work? Do they have technology solutions that enable good team communication for both in-office and remote workers? Is scheduling working well for them? Asking questions about employees’ day-to-day can help you iterate on a chosen work model. Determine a frequency in which to send surveys to your workforce in order to better understand their changing requirements and concerns. 
  2. Provide comprehensive leadership development training to managers. Ensure your managers are able to effectively lead in hybrid work conditions by conducting training on leadership skills in a virtual environment. Sample training topics might include how to communicate effectively, as well as training on soft skills, like emotional intelligence and authenticity. Investing in your leaders will continue to increase equity for all, regardless of work location or arrangement.
  3. Continuously assess costs of your hybrid model. Many organizations have found that they do not require the same amount of physical office space for their employees as they did pre-pandemic. By tracking in-office utilization rates, you can make any updates to how space is used and what kind of resources are available to employees. Assess how your company provides any benefits for employees to configure their work-from-home or remote work setup. Determine a frequency for how often employees require a benefit.
  4. Clearly communicate about your hybrid work model. Whether you’re an organization like Microsoft, using a phase-based approach, or an organization adhering to a specific return-to-work start date, clearly communicate the plan to your managers and employees. Establish methods and channels for disseminating information about hybrid work and any changes that may result. Define how different technologies can be used to communicate different types of information and with cascading urgency. For example, use email to communicate large-scale hybrid work plans, and use a rapid communication tool like Slack to communicate pertinent workplace and safety information. Reserve phone calls and text for urgent inter-team matters.
  5. Define your technology requirements. After choosing your hybrid work model, it’s time to evaluate and implement a technology solution to support your return-to-work. Which type of solution you choose will be based on your organization’s budget, implementation timeline, administrative capacity and overall need and variability in your return-to-work plan. To optimize your employee’s hybrid work experience, look for technology solutions that offer seven major areas of software and hardware capabilities: building access, on-site check-in, network access, space planning and floor plans, desk reservations, meeting room reservations and guest and delivery notifications. To learn more about common use cases and technology requirements for organizations operating with hybrid work models, download Proximity’s Guide to Flexible Workplace Technology for Hybrid Teams.

 

The Proximity Platform

Proximity is the workspace management platform that connects people and places. Our technology is designed to help you provide a great employee experience while managing your organization’s cost and time investment to implement hybrid work. Learn more about our flexible workplace solutions and schedule a demo with our team to see how your organization can successfully manage hybrid work with Proximity.