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Crafting the Ideal Hybrid Environment for Employees & Companies

by Julie Miles / December 19, 2023

While “new normal” may sound tired as a phrase, it appropriately sums up the landscape organizations now face. Workplace norms have undeniably changed over the past few years. Remote and hybrid models quickly went center stage, forcing even strictly office-based companies to follow suit.

Yearslong remote work experiments made it clear that hybrid arrangements are the future. Hybrid promotes the possibility of flexibility for employees, balanced by connectivity for leaders. However, leaders now face the challenge of blending on-site and virtual staff under hybrid policies for long-term success. 

What does the ideal hybrid schedule look like for each role? Should office-locked jobs embrace more flexibility? How will you bring together scattered teams? With staff everywhere, how do you maintain visibility across your workforce? Leaders still establishing hybrid strategies have several questions to answer if they want to see considerable progress in the future.

Still, building new-era hybrid policies is mandatory for both talent retention and driving workplace performance in the long term. Everything from management practices to communication tools requires rethinking as hybrid cements itself as a workplace pillar. So, how can companies and staff collaboratively build the ideal hybrid environment?

The key is taking an evidence-based approach to hybrid work, grounded in routine workforce insights. With reliable employee feedback guiding decisions, leadership can customize sustainable hybrid policies where everyone succeeds.

Why Hybrid? Understanding the Employee Perspective

Let’s define what hybrid work means. Hybrid arrangements split time between the office and either home or a third workspace location. This provides flexibility around when and where someone completes their responsibilities.

2020 and 2021 saw unprecedented disruptions to traditional office-based work. However, the workplace transformation also produced surprising benefits. The majority of today’s employees now express a desire for hybrid work patterns, averaging one to four remote days per week.  

Some key drivers of why more employees are expressing a desire for hybrid work include:

  • Avoiding lengthy commutes
  • Achieving greater work-life balance
  • Having the flexibility to tend to household needs
  • Increasing productivity by reducing distractions

While more employees are expressing their willingness to be a part of a hybrid work environment, a large number of employees do not have clear details about how a hybrid environment would work within their organization. This communication gap risks turnover among dissatisfied talent. 

For employers, leaning into competent hybrid policies simply makes good business sense. Intuned leaders recognize the potential upsides to hybrid approaches:

  • Wider talent pools and hiring opportunities
  • Reduced real estate needs and costs
  • Environmental benefits (less travel)
  • Operational continuity planning

Hybrid approaches that can blend the best of both remote work and on-site offices help deliver the perfect combination—galvanizing talent and fueling workplace performance. Those who cling to outdated, 100% office-based roles risk losing top existing talent and failing to attract younger talent. In competitive markets, flexible quality-of-life extras like hybrid work set attractive employers apart.

Well-designed policies allow organizations to meet employee demands for flexibility while still connecting teams and sustaining culture. However, leaders cannot view hybrid work as simply “business as usual.” Proactively addressing people, processes, technology, and change management considerations is necessary.

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Strategies for Successful Hybrid Environments

Hybrid work opens new doors for mutually empowering talent and driving organizational success. But aimless hybrid strategies won’t cut it. Keep employees fulfilled and productive by focusing policies across a few key areas:

Survey Employees Regularly

Issue periodic surveys to measure changing employee preferences, challenges faced in hybrid models, desired changes, and overall sentiment. Track trends over time and request examples of policies that work well or don’t. Having information about actual experiences is invaluable, instead of just relying on assumptions.

Stay Interviews

Have managers regularly check in one-on-one with reports to understand an employee’s situation. What kind of hybrid schedule optimizes their role performance? How could the company better support hybrid excellence and advancement? Stay interviews foster trust, inclusion, and transparency around hybrid work.

Train Managers 

Provide leaders with concrete strategies for maintaining team cohesion, having effective check-ins, entrusting responsibilities, nurturing careers, and measuring outcomes in a distributed environment. Help them spot warning signs of disengagement and provide developmental resources.

Create Shared Spaces

Convert unused real estate or traditional conference rooms into open seating areas or “hot desks” available to both remote and on-site employees. These spaces promote spontaneity and connection that's missing from siloed home offices.

Emphasize Outcomes Over Hours/Locations

Clearly articulate role expectations, key results, success metrics, and deadlines. Then provide teams with information about how, when, and where work gets completed based on individual and project needs. Judge performance based on outcomes achieved, and not hours logged or location.

Distribute Hybrid Schedules

Instead of the entire team working on specific assigned at-home or in-office days, encourage more mixed routines. This provides flexibility while still allowing for in-person collaboration. Managers could even publish calendars showing who plans to be onsite on given days.

Address the Digital Divide

Audit tools, connectivity, and resources provided to remote versus in-office workers. Are at-home team members at a disadvantage in communications, document sharing, or access to data and systems? Prioritizing digital equity of experience will help to ensure fair and inclusive access to technology and digital opportunities.

Model the Desired Behaviors

From the start, leaders should visibly embrace flexible scheduling and demonstrate the capability to collaborate virtually. If senior management insists on rigid office-based routines, it undermines the message.

Benefits of Getting Hybrid Work Right

Constructing hybrid policies and priorities pays significant dividends across several areas when implemented effectively:

Increased Employee Retention and Strengthened Talent Pipelines

The flexibility of work locations and unspoken trust in hybrid models lead to much higher job satisfaction, engagement, and staff loyalty over the long term. Employees feel their needs are respected. This drives retention while word spreads that the company prioritizes work-life balance and independence. Given the state of today’s job market, this flexibility becomes a strategic talent magnet, setting employers apart. Both passive and active job seekers are looking for companies that have hybrid work-from-anywhere models. This expands talent pipelines with a wider geographic reach.

Elevated Employee Engagement that Fuels Innovation

Environments that give people autonomy over scheduling based on personal needs and project demands fuel greater workplace passion and purpose. Removing strict location constraints grants freedom to blossom, both personally and professionally. These motivated, engaged teams generally collaborate more, share ideas freely, and drive each other to greater heights. Co-workers connect more effectively across distances thanks to technology. The result is a wave of diverse perspectives and creativity that unlocks innovation.

Enhanced Business Continuity and Resilience

With teams and capabilities spread across different areas, organizations gain significant business continuity benefits. If disruptions like weather events or network failures impact one area, work can shift in a different direction without causing productivity losses. Cloud-based collaboration tools allow virtual handoffs between teams. Having built-in flexibility allows organizations to easily handle disruptions that would have otherwise disabled a strictly office-dependent organization.

Tangible Environmental Sustainability Gains

With fewer daily commutes and less reliance on business travel, work-from-anywhere models can reduce an organization’s carbon footprint. Workplaces can accurately quantify and report major sustainability gains by having a remote workforce.

Strengthened External Reputation and Community Standing

As hybrid policies allow for greater work-life balance for staff, organizations strengthen their outward reputations as progressive, caring, and ethical employers. Organizations that prioritize the well-being of their employees earn the respect of the community. This drives brand affinity with consumers and business partners.

The Bottom Line

Hybrid flexibility, done thoughtfully, delivers productivity and cultural and operational advantages that can be difficult to achieve through traditional inflexible models. The dividends over the long term will be more than worth it in terms of talent retention, innovation gains, operational resilience, and even environmental responsibility. Now is the time to collaborate on policies able to meet the unique needs of both your people and your organization.

By combining HCM technology like isolved People Cloud with your hybrid work policies rooted in regular workforce feedback, you can propel your organization and talent to mutual greatness. The future of work is hybrid and bright for dedicated employees and the organizations that empower them to excel.

About Platinum Group

Purpose-built human capital management (HCM) systems like isolved People Cloud provide an administrative engine for hybrid achievement. With isolved, organizations centralize and optimize essential people processes from hiring and onboarding to scheduling, time tracking, payroll, and full lifecycle support. This HCM backbone allows seamless remote and in-office employee experiences while giving leadership data-driven workforce insights.

Learn how isolved People Cloud, offered by Platinum Group, can optimize the hybrid work environment. This all-in-one system offers: in-person and remote onboarding, workforce scheduling, timekeeping, compliance, and more. Learn more here:

Tags: Company Culture Employee Retention Employee Performance Hybrid Office Asheville HCM

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Julie Miles

Julie Miles

Julie’s passion is to act as a liaison between the Platinum team, their wonderful clients, and the community, striving to tell their stories and make connections.