The last few years has seen a global shift in the way employees want to work, and in the way many HR managers and business leaders want to hire. This has created an astounding opportunity for organisations to create a new, and more effective, business model.

 

Many have missed interacting with peers but have valued the extra time with family, or on their personal goals, due to less commuting. These experiences have brought about a higher level of interest in hybrid working arrangements, where there is a mix of working from the office and working from home.

According to a recent McKinsey survey, more than three-quarters of C-suite executives expect core employees will return to the office three or more days per week, but three-quarters of employees surveyed would like to work from home for two or more days per week. This disconnect between the two groups creates a chance for managers and employees to align their needs for the greater good of the business.

Change Requires Time 

We all know changing the culture of an organisation takes considerable time. The move to a hybrid workplace is a cultural shift borne out of a range of issues, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic pressures on families to work. However, hybrid workplaces and fluid working environments offer many advantages, such as increased collaboration, flexibility, and lower overheads and attrition rates.

Change Requires Thought

When adjusting to a hybrid team model, there are some key questions a business must evaluate first, those being:

  • What elements of the role can be effectively done out of the office?
  • What can be done in the office to provide workers what they need when they are there?
  • How to build fairness into your hybrid model so each employee, regardless of their role or working model, is feeling valued and empowered?
  • How will meetings, workflows, monitoring and reporting be conducted?

Change Requires Communication

Another vital consideration is effective communication. Management, HR and other business leaders need to understand employee needs and interests, foster collaboration, and maintain an open dialogue between colleagues. To achieve this, they should focus on developing active listening skills, using appropriate language, being honest and transparent in conversations, understanding different points of view, and demonstrating courteous behaviour when communicating with others. With these competencies in place, companies are better placed to foster a productive atmosphere allowing everyone to contribute their ideas without fear of judgement or criticism.

Contracts Are Key

HR leaders and managers should also take the time to understand employee needs when it comes to contracts for hybrid workers, as this will play an integral part in creating a collaborative atmosphere where every voice is heard.

Employment contracts contain a range of non-negotiable elements, such as:

  • job title
  • expectations regarding the role
  • start date
  • hours of work
  • salary
  • benefits
  • leave entitlements
  • training
  • appraisals
  • mentoring and development
  • reviews
  • dismissal and termination policies. 

A contract for hybrid working arrangements must include all of these matters, but also may include:

  • eligibility criteria (not all roles can be performed out of the office)
  • days both in and out of the office
  • attendance at meetings
  • expenses (for example wi-fi, telephone, software), insurance 
  • importantly, how confidentiality and data management will be maintained. 

You might also wish to add a clause regarding changes to the arrangement – if Covid-19 taught us anything, it is the importance of being able to pivot when necessary.

As businesses draft these contracts, they will discover a range of challenges to address. For example, subscribing to collaboration tools can solve issues around workflow, whilst effective networking solutions will provide comfort around data management. Ideally, the challenges flagged in the drafting process should be remedied prior to agreeing to a hybrid model, otherwise both management and the employee will become frustrated by the lack of suitable systems or policies.

Important Factors Once a Hybrid Worker or Contractor Starts

Developing a productive relationship with a hybrid worker, or a contractor, is crucial. Understanding their needs and being very clear about your own sets expectations, but any relationship which is purely transactional will not have the same outcomes as one where there is a genuine communication path. All workers need to feel part of your team and be included, when appropriate, in team meetings and have access to the perceived benefits provided to other staff.

Other points for HR managers and team leaders to consider are principally around trust and communication. Key points to consider are:

  • Micromanaging trusted staff or experienced contractors will not bode well in the long-term. Have systems in place around progress reports and feedback, but allow them to show their capabilities.
  • Honesty around future projects will give staff and contractors a sense of trust, which leads to loyalty.
  • Flexibility is likely a key driver for hybrid workers and contractors so a flexible approach to their schedules would be valuable to them.
  • On-time payroll is essential.

By having clear and mutually-agreed goals, a detailed contract, regular communication and respectful dialogue as core pillars in a personnel strategy, HR leaders and managers can help create a successful hybrid work space and dynamic working environment which will lead to improved collaboration, productivity and better results for their organisation.

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