The great remote-work experiment of the past year has made one conclusion certain: Hybrid work is here to stay. Nine out of 10 organizations told McKinsey & Company that they’ll be embracing a hybrid model moving forward. Precisely what a hybrid model is, however, is open to interpretation. Those same organizations have said that for roles that aren’t essential to perform onsite, employees will work in person between 21 and 80% of the time (or one to four days per week).
With no true precedence to follow, how do you plan your organization’s own post-pandemic hybrid work plan? Here’s a roundup of what your fellow employers are experiencing, including successes and pitfalls along the way:
Customize Your Plan, Whatever It May Be
“People refer to the hybrid model a lot, but there isn’t exactly one clearly defined example,” says Buffer’s Hailley Griffis, co-host of the MakeWorkWork podcast. “Ultimately, it involves some combination of working remotely and from an office. So far, the hybrid model looks different for every organization, but there are a few clear themes.”
Griffis outlines those variations in Built In, emphasizing the difference between a remote-first hybrid model versus an office-first model. (Dropbox stands as a strong example of a newly remote-first model.) She also includes common mistakes to avoid by paying attention to where leadership works (others will feel pulled to follow them) and creating a consistent and equitable work arrangement for employees across the board. “As much as possible, organizations should strive to give remote and in-office employees the same experience by creating guidelines that prioritize communicating online over in-person,” Griffis adds.
Opportunities For ‘Microtransactions’ Are Critical
McKinsey found that the companies that succeed in the hybrid model have mastered supporting productivity and communication by creating a virtual environment for what they call “microtransactions.’ These small, constant daily touches include opportunities to discuss projects, share ideas, network, mentor, and coach. In-person, these microtransactions happen organically throughout the day at desks, breakrooms, happy hours and more. Therefore, virtual collaboration tools need to be incorporated into a hybrid environment to mimic this natural exchange of thoughts and ideas throughout the day.
MIT supports these findings by reporting that nearly half of the employees it surveyed cited effective communication as crucial to remote work. This includes frequent, easy two-way communication enabled by collaboration platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams and high-bandwidth home Wi-Fi. If you’re still piecemealing these solutions together, now is the time to get strategic with remote tools so that they can work for you for the long haul.
Coworking Has A Different Flavor
Coworking spaces are popular again, particularly in boom cities like Austin. But there are interesting differences in the demand this time around. Galvanize Austin, for example, tells Austonia it’s not necessarily freelancers banging on their doors. Instead, larger companies want to offer a hybrid solution to a single remote employee or small remote team, either from startups just ramping up (or are new to town) or as remote employees of a newly decentralized organization.
These clients need privacy and network security over the communal ‘hot desk’ model more than ever. Spaces like Austin’s Firmspace cater to those needs. And then there are entirely new concepts like Austin startup Codi’s—which connects employees with private in-home offices within their neighborhoods. Austin-based Coder uses the office solution to save 60% per employee compared to the cost of its former Frost Bank Tower headquarters.
Structure, Structure, Structure
They’re not the sexiest part of a hybrid model, but rules and regulations are vital to making it all work. Include hybrid arrangements in your remote work policy, along with training and onboarding. Forbes offers tips on doing that here. A digital workplace governance plan is essential, too, says Alfredo Ramirez, CEO of Austin analytics firm Vyopta. He explains more on developing a lasting framework for security, communication, technology and compliance for hybrid work here.
Our friends at SHRM offer additional examples of hybrid work models, including plans being developed by Citigroup, GM, and more. And for a refreshingly transparent and in-depth description of how a smaller organization is transforming into a digital-first hybrid model, take a look at Juniper Square’s strategy. The company is using its Austin office as a prototype for redesigning its workspaces—including knowing when and how to let go of unutilized real estate—and building around geographically distributed teams.
The workplace will never be the same. Flexibility is key to hiring and retaining top talent now more than ever. If you need help developing a hybrid work solution moving forward, our consulting and advisory services are only a click away.