For many it is finally time to return to the office after over a year of uncertainty and remote connection. According to a Worker Preferences survey from JLL, a strong majority of employees are looking for a blend of in-person and remote work, with around three days a week in the office.
The Hybrid Workplace
So, how do you make a seamless transition into the post-pandemic world of employment? Here are a few tips for making a hybrid workplace… work:
Being available to employees — intentionally, physically and digitally — is a pivotal part of the process. Allow employees to schedule “in person” time, offering a range of options for meeting in the office, on the phone, or through video-conferencing. Being available also means being open and transparent, acknowledging challenges and explaining the organization’s plans in detail. Above all else, offer equal one-on-one communication opportunities to every employee.
When it comes to next steps in the hybrid workplace, employees want to feel like they’re “in the know.” Lack of communication from up above can lead to uncertainty, anxiety and even employee burnout. By sharing information (remember: any news is better than no news, even if it’s bad news), setting clear expectations, and explaining new policies, you can ensure employees are armed with everything they need to seamlessly transition into this new phase in their employment. Remember to include visuals – not only will it better draw their attention but will help it be easier to understand. Consider adding workplace signage for places where mask use is required, posters reminding to wash your hands, vaccine availability, etc.
If you find yourself at the drawing board to draft up a useful collection of information for employees, you can turn to toolkits and best practices from industry resource providers like SHRM or Workplace.
Even if the majority of your employees are still working from home, it’s essential to facilitate and promote a culture of proximity and inclusion. Continue to re-communicate your organization's “why’s,” shared values and purpose. Create engaging conversations around the big picture goals and vision for what comes next. Ensure each employee knows what their unique role is and how it strengthens those collective goals. It’s possible to make people feel more included when you recognize their contributions publicly, remain visible and accountable as an employer, and keep checking in to encourage continued collaboration.
Fairness in the hybrid workplace means the proposed outcome is equally beneficial for employees, managers and the organization as a whole. By evaluating which new work norms are working well and which need improvement, you can continuously tap the pulse of the organization, adapting and making changes as you go.
Additionally, ensure that employees have the same access to information regardless of where they are. It should be just as simple for a remote employee to access vital resources as it is for an in-office employee to get the same information. Set each employee up for success by giving them the tools they need to be productive and be as visible and available to your remote employees as you are to the ones who are physically in the office.
Remember to Communicate!
Communication is the most crucial constant to keeping your employees connected and engaged. They want to remain “in the loop” about your plans, expectations and changes. So, even if you don’t have all the answers just yet, provide updates often.
For more tips on how to communicate a return to the office, check out our previous blog.