Remote Leadership

Hybrid Working Policy – What, Why, and How

38% of employees struggle with knowing when or why to go to the office. Solve it with a hybrid working policy.

38% of employees struggle with knowing when or why to go to the office. Solve it with a hybrid working policy.

The world is moving to hybrid after extended periods of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hybrid remote work combines work from home and work from the office and potential ‘third places.’

According to McKinsey, 90% of companies are switching to hybrid work for the long term. Hybrid work benefits include reduced real estate and operating costs, an increased ability to attract and retain top talent, particularly working parents and older employees, and is proven in the recent Stanford remote study to significantly improve employee retention.

The move to hybrid makes sense because employees no longer want to come to the office full-time.

Challenges to Overcome

Great companies like Spotify, Microsoft, and Twitter have successfully deployed hybrid or “Work from Anywhere” models in international markets. The move towards hybrid work comes with a unique set of challenges.

What can employers expect from employees, and vice versa?

New hybrid policies must be introduced, measured, and optimized. Offices must be redesigned and operated differently to provide on-demand spaces to focus, meet, and collaborate, rather than individual dedicated working desks. And employee engagement needs to be done more intentionally to improve communication, connection, community, and company culture.

What is a hybrid working policy?

Good hybrid guidelines or policies clearly document when and how often employees should come to the office.

Additionally, they codify how employees are expected to engage with each other, their managers, and the company. It includes the answers to the key questions around location, working hours, and the expected ‘how’ of collaboration, productivity, well-being, and absence.

They don’t have to be like a typical “HR Policy,” but can be seen as a way to capture the understanding between employer and employee about how to work together in this digital and hybrid world.

The Need for a Clear Hybrid Work Policy

Recent research from Microsoft shows that 38% of employees say their greatest hybrid challenge is knowing when or why to come into the office. This means that companies have to define clear Hybrid Policies and make them easily accessible to teams.

Good hybrid policies document when and how often employees should come to the office and codify how employees are expected to engage with each other, their managers, and the company when working hybrid.

Key questions your hybrid guidelines should help you answer include:

  • First and foremost, where will the employee be expected to work? Try to answer:
  • To ensure collaboration and communication don’t suffer, when are employees expected to work?
  • How do you ensure employees can communicate and collaborate effectively during working hours?
  • How is productivity measured? Are there any milestones and/or OKRs that help keep everyone on track and measure progress?
  • How is the home office organized? Are there any new benefits?
  • How are exceptions to the policy handled?

Measure, Learn And Optimize

Even the best hybrid guidelines at this point will be nothing more than the best hypothesis we can make now. Companies will need to measure the effectiveness of their hybrid guidelines, test adjustments, and variations and evolve the guidelines over time.

Once written, companies can then measure whether the guidelines are embraced by employees and that requirements around how, when, and where they work are met. It will let you help people falling behind and improve the guidelines over time.

Investing in acquiring and frequently reviewing this data will be critical, in line with the move towards more data-driven HR functions. HR leaders will (need to) get smarter about using data to uncover insights about which groups of employees perform the best, whether purely productivity and outputs or ‘soft metrics’ like culture and community contributions.

Examples of Hybrid Working Policies

  • Spotify was one of the earliest to communicate a clear “Work From Anywhere policy.” These guidelines allow employees to choose where to live and whether to work mostly from home, the office, or a coworking space. For remote workers, Spotify ensures that “your  home working space meets the needs of your role and offer you the  same or similar equipment you’d enjoy at the office.”
  • HubSpotters can select the work option that's best for them once  per calendar year: @office (dedicated desk in the office where you come in one or more days per week) @home (visiting a HubSpot office  only once times per quarter. HubSpot supports the work-from-home setup), or @flex (flexible desk in a HubSpot office for ù or fewer days per week with support for a work-from-home setup.)
  • SAP created the “Pledge to Flex,” a “Flexible and Trust Based” way of working that offers flexibility in the workplace and working schedule. It redesigned its Singapore office, focusing on “employee engagement, environment, and education.” Employees can now find an activity-based workspace with free seating to maximize team collaboration and social interaction. 

Don't know where to start?

Get started by forming a set of Hybrid Work Policies with our Hybrid Working Policy to set your hybrid remote team up for success.

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