After a year and a half of remote work, companies are turning their attention to what comes next. For some teams, that means a hybrid approach: working part-time in an office while supporting remote work. Hybrid work has its benefits, including flexibility and the opportunity to attract high-quality candidates no matter their location. But successful hybrid work isn’t as easy as saying “work from anywhere.” Effective communication and clearly defined policies are crucial to avoiding issues like proximity bias and silo creation.
Creating those communication pathways and designing new policies for a hybrid workforce can be daunting. Here are seven tried-and-true ideas for where to start, inspired by some of our 15,000+ customers:
Seven Policies To Support a Hybrid Workforce
Supporting a hybrid workforce means identifying potential snags and planning for them. Proximity bias tops the list of potential snags: in-house employees may be perceived as harder-working or more committed while getting more visibility with higher-ups in the office. On the other hand, remote employees may be viewed as less hard-working and can feel more isolated because they are potentially left out of meaningful conversations and face-time with teams. Those perceptions lead to a real impact on access and equality.
It’s crucial to structure equitable policies and practices to acknowledge that all team members are equally valuable and should be set up equally to contribute to the business’s success.
Having intentional policies in place can help your hybrid workforce thrive while allowing your entire team to feel supported and included. These are our top seven policies to help your team succeed in a hybrid workplace:
- Create a Standardized Meeting Environment: If one person is on Zoom, everyone needs to be on Zoom (Check out The 10 Greatest Zoom Hacks of All Time). Asking each team member to join the Zoom meeting from their own computer (and camera) means that everyone is in the same meeting environment. This allows everyone to contribute and stay on the same page.
- Comparable Benefits for All: When considering benefits and perks, factor in equivalent solutions for the entire hybrid workforce, especially between those staying remote vs. those in-office. This includes location-specific benefits! Offering unequal (or even just different) benefits can create feelings of unfairness and frustration from your team.
- Keep Statuses Updated: Keep your Slack and Google Calendar updated with your location. Are you remote/ in-office/ out for lunch/ on vacation? Update your profiles so other team members can know when to expect a response or whether it’s okay to reach out.
- Normalize Voice-Only Meetings for 1:1’s: When screen share isn’t required, focus on voice meetings instead of camera-on meetings on video call platforms. Remote and hybrid work can lead to Zoom fatigue, so it’s essential to build in some time off-camera while still building in synchronous connection to aid productivity and deter loneliness.
- Designate Meeting Roles: Over-communication is never a bad thing, especially when making sure that hybrid meetings are inclusive, efficient, and effective. Communicating designated meeting roles (note-taker, agenda organizer, goal setter, etc.) ahead of time helps ensure that everyone is clear on their action items and can participate. Plus, follow-ups and ownership are clear during a meeting, which reduces the need for “the meeting after the meeting” (continuing the conversation afterward in the hallway or stopping by desks to follow up on items that did not get finished during the meeting).
- Commit to Connect: Schedule time in your calendar to be available on-call for both in-person and remote employees so that you can provide them with resources and information if they run into any obstacles during their workweek. This allows everyone to feel supported, especially remote workers. If you manage managers, consider instituting a regular Skip-Level 1:1 to build camaraderie and a feedback loop with the team. (Consider using Donut’s Skip Level 1:1 template to get started!)
- Prepare for Hybrid Meetings: Don’t assume that everyone knows what to do in this next phase of work! As we adjust to the new normal of hybrid meetings, spend dedicated time ensuring that your team is prepared and set up for success around hybrid work expectations. Set explicit communication norms and establish open lines of communication to help everyone feel equally supported. For example, managers can do this by proactively scheduling (and monitoring) time spent with non-office-based reports, but anyone on the team can feel empowered to schedule 1:1s or Donut meetings to make sure that they are staying connected.
It all comes down to human relationships
Just like the shift to remote work, no one can truly predict what widespread hybrid work will feel like. But if there’s anything we’ve learned from the past year, it’s that good working relationships should be a priority.
Thoughtful policies will help your team create moments of human connection, create supportive networks, and boost collaboration—all of which create a solid foundation for your team to adapt no matter how or where you choose to work.