According to a Prudential survey, 87 percent of respondents said they would prefer to work remotely at least one day per week. This is compared to 13 percent of respondents preferring to work at the office all the time. The same survey found that one-third of respondents would not want to work for a business that had a 100 percent on-site work policy.
According to a report from Microsoft titled, “The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?” 54 percent of employees report “feeling overworked” while 39 percent say they “feel exhausted.” The study attributes these feelings to an overload of “digital collaboration” through “remote meetings, emails, chats, and groups working on documents together.” With workers reporting a desire for change in the workplace, how can companies develop their own hybrid work policy?
Crafting an Effective Hybrid Work Policy
By developing the right mix of remote work and office work, employees and employers can find a balance that works well for everyone. Looking to Fujitsu, as Harvard Business Review (HBR) explains, we can study a model of how the pandemic changed everyone’s view – including owners, managers, and e – of working in the office all the time.
Hiroki Hiramatsu, head of the human resources unit at Fujitsu, realized that the 120 minutes people spent traveling to work could be put to better use. There was a better mousetrap to be devised to make both the business and its workers more efficient with a hybrid workplace plan. For businesses that want to create more flexible working arrangements, HBR believes there are four areas of focus:
The first task is to examine the employee’s position and list of responsibilities. HBR looks at the job of a strategic planner and hones in on the attribute of focus. The person in this position is responsible for creating business plans and obtaining details on their industry. Requiring intense focus, they need time that is not interrupted; hence, this can be performed virtually anywhere.
Looking at the team manager, being able to coordinate things is imperative. Team managers are more efficient and effective working in person because they are able to provide guidance and job-improving feedback while in the office working on projects.
While there is no cut-and-dry call on where both of these jobs could be done, with a hybrid work policy, certain tasks can be done anywhere, while other tasks are more effectively completed at home or at the office. A hybrid work policy merges the benefits for businesses and their employees.
HBR explains that it is imperative to understand individual worker preferences and aid teams to work within such preferences. Using the example of two strategic planners, there are different employees with different work and family lives. One resides far from the office, has a busy family life with kids in school, and prefers a hybrid work approach. The other employee is at an earlier stage in their career, does not have a dedicated home workspace, and lives near the office.
This stage is where companies can speak with employees and have them take surveys to see how a hybrid workplace policy can be constructed for optimal employee engagement.
When it comes to working outside the office, HBR explains that in a hybrid work environment, businesses have to get creative, especially with technology. HBR uses the example of the Norwegian Equinor corporation that is involved in handling gas from North Sea fields. In place of normal operations for plant inspections, robotic devices were supplied to provide real-time visual data for inspection engineers to complete their jobs remotely with the same level of accuracy.
Regardless of the hybrid policy that is developed, it is important to maintain inclusion and fairness. HBR points out that failure to apply the policy evenly can lead to less productive workers, higher rates of burnout, fewer instances of teamwork, and more turnover. Additionally, with select employees having time- and place-dependent jobs unsuited to or not optimized for a hybrid workplace, many felt they were treated unfairly when this approach is taken.
HBR gives the example of how Brit Insurance changed the traditional approach to the uneven application of a hybrid work policy. One out of 10 of its employees was chosen randomly, from all departments and job roles. Over the next six months, these employees were put in six-person groups to work together virtually. After reflecting on their working styles and capabilities—and their coworkers’ and company’s needs—they concluded that by developing ideas based on their experience and sharing them with the CEO, change would occur. The project resulted in the Brit Playbook, documenting novel ideas for employees to work together.
While each business is unique and will have its own tailored hybrid plan, taking the time to learn how to develop it effectively will help reduce problems in implementing it.