In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, companies across the globe implemented mandatory remote work policies for much of 2020. Over one-third of the U.S. workforce was working from home in May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a 2021 report from the National Council on Compensation Insurance. As the pandemic lingers, many companies are debating the best way to move forward with their employees.
The good news? It’s not all or nothing. The hybrid work model is gearing up to be the future of remote work.
What is a hybrid work model, and why is it valuable?
A hybrid work model offers the best of both worlds: the structure and social aspects of interacting face to face with coworkers and the convenience and flexibility of working remotely. It allows employees to work virtually part-time while still requiring some in-office presence. Many companies have designated specific days that employees must be in the office for meetings and collaboration, allowing them to choose where they want to work the rest of the time.
While being in the office is useful for orientations, team-building activities, important client meetings or new project kickoffs, remote days might be better for creative deep dives or tasks involving a lot of focus.
What is the demand for a hybrid working model?
A 2020 Stanford survey found that 55% of all U.S. workers want a mixture of home and office time. Gen-Z employees had an above-average interest in the hybrid work model at 74%. This shows that young professionals especially desire flexible work from home models. Offering hybrid work policies is no longer just a nice-to-have perk. It’s essential for many companies to attract and retain rising talent. In a 2021 survey from staffing firm Robert Half, one out of three employees would be willing to quit their current job if they weren’t able to work remotely at least some of the time after the pandemic.
Best practices for implementing a hybrid work model
While it’s clear employees want the flexibility that a hybrid work model provides, some employers are scratching their heads about how to offer it effectively. Here are some best practices to help your company get on board with the future of remote work with fewer frustrations—for you and your teams.
1. Establish a hybrid work policy and transition plan. If your company plans to implement a hybrid work model, you should create a written policy that clearly outlines who can work remotely and how often. It’s also essential to have a transition plan and to be transparent about it with your employees.
- Is your office going to immediately open its doors to anyone who wants to work in person? Or will you gradually phase various teams back in?
- Will employees or management teams need to do any additional training?
- Does anyone need additional devices that you’ll have to budget for?
It’s important to have a plan in place and proactively prepare for any challenges before launching into a hybrid work model.
2. Set clear expectations. Having an overarching game plan for how your hybrid work model will work is only the first step. It’s also important to set clear expectations for individual teams regarding the day-to-day.
- For remote work, what hours must your employees be online and accessible?
- What should they do if they have a question and their coworker isn’t responding?
- What if there are technical difficulties and they can’t get into a meeting or access a file they need?
It’s crucial to outline processes and procedures and ensure that your employees know how and when to communicate when working remotely versus when they’re in the office.
3. Leverage asynchronous video communication. Unlike synchronous video meetings (for example, everyone joining a Zoom at 4 p.m. ET), asynchronous video communication does not happen in real time. Instead, this recorded content is shared with others so they can view it at their convenience. With teams that work across time zones or split their time between home and office, asynchronous communication becomes much easier than coordinating schedules in real time. Plus, minimizing the number of required meetings gives people more time to focus on their work and more flexibility in structuring their workday.
4. Don’t overlook cybersecurity. When you have employees moving between the office and other locations (home, a co-working space, a coffee shop), it can expose your data and devices to security vulnerabilities. For this reason, it’s extra important to set cybersecurity policies in a hybrid work model.
- Are there specific files or applications that shouldn’t be accessed on personal devices?
- Should employees set up two-factor authentication for all company logins?
It’s also critical to ensure that your employees are using strong passwords, are aware of traps like phishing schemes and that you keep software updated. Have regular cybersecurity training for employees leveraging a hybrid work model.
5. Use effective collaboration tools. On days when your employees are working remotely, they must have access to the files, applications, tools and data they need to do their jobs, just as they would in your office. Tools like Slack put all your office communications in one place, so everyone has access, can collaborate with their teams and build professional relationships no matter where they’re working. Slack enhances the hybrid work model by making it possible to:
- Review documents, provide feedback and make approvals in real time
- Quickly share critical information at all levels with companywide announcements, team-specific communications or one-on-one direct messages
- Start an audio or video call with just a click without having to jump to a third-party platform
- Ensure that only approved people and devices can access your company’s information through single sign-on, domain claiming and support for enterprise mobility management
- Protect your confidential data with data encryption both at rest and in transit
- Create dedicated channels for a team, department or project to keep status updates, meeting notes, discussions, files and feedback organized
- Pin project plans, creative briefs, FAQs, important announcements and more for quick, easy access
Share your availability by setting a status
- Use Do Not Disturb to mute notifications and stay focused when it’s time for deep work
- Invite external vendors and partners to dedicated Slack channels rather than using yet another third-party communication platform
- Seamlessly integrate existing tools like Zoom, Dropbox and Office 365
- Leverage automation to set reminders for due dates and unanswered messages
Changes in the workplace are never easy. But with Slack, the transition to a hybrid work model can be smoother than you ever thought possible. Check out our webinar for more tips on how to best work remotely (and in the office too) with Slack.