Many of us were forced into remote work in early 2020 as COVID-19 began to spread, and it went better than expected. Employers and employees are realizing the benefits, and beginning to envision what remote work might look like long-term. While some companies have decided to go fully distributed, it seems that most are opting for some type of hybrid approach. This may look very different for every company. Some companies will allow certain employees to work fully remote, while others are expecting all employees to come into the office at least two days per week. But no matter how it’s structured, there are some best practices for ensuring success on your newly hybrid team:
1. Develop a remote work policy
Develop or update your remote work policy, and include key information such as who is eligible, when employees are expected to be available, and how you handle relocations. You can get really specific, including things like core working hours or days you expect all employees to be in the office each week. This can help ensure consistency between departments, managers, and locations, so everyone knows what to expect—whether they’re in the office or remote.
2. Enable communication and collaboration
Twenty percent of remote workers say collaboration and communication are their biggest struggle. Remote employees often have trouble remotely calling into meetings, and are inadvertently left out of watercooler or hallway conversations.
Put together a communication guide to outline when and how employees can use each of your communication and collaboration tools. (As an example, check out The 10 Slack Agreements of Buffer.) Consider taking a remote-first approach, where everyone behaves as if they were working remotely. For instance, instead of office-based employees taking meetings from the conference room, all employees would call in to your video conferencing platform.
3. Build a strong employee onboarding program
Ensure employees will be successful in a hybrid work environment from day one by building a strong employee onboarding program. Ask new employees to review your remote work policy and communication guide, and answer any questions they may have. New employees may not meet all of their colleagues on an office tour or in the hallways, so make virtual introductions and share an org chart so they can keep track of everyone.
Remote employees should have a similar first-day experience as office-based employees, so consider how you can adapt your process accordingly. For instance, consider kicking off the day with a virtual coffee meeting. You can order your new employee a breakfast delivery, or send them a coffee shop gift card to make this a little extra special.
4. Offer an office equipment stipend
The right office set-up can help your employees be more productive, no matter where they are. For instance, remote employees may need a comfortable chair to work in, and office employees may need noise-cancelling headphones to tune out background noise. Consider offering all employees a stipend to set up their desk the way they like it.
You may also consider an additional stipend for remote employees, to match what you provide to office-based employees. For instance, if you offer snacks in the office, you could allow remote workers to expense drinks and food at coffee shops during the workday. You may even consider covering some or all of an employee’s phone bill, internet bill, or coworking membership.
5. Develop job ladders
Employee development and career advancement can both be crucial to a great employee experience, but may not be applied consistently in a remote team. It’s often the most visible employees who receive promotions, coaching, and recognition.
Give all employees an equal shot by developing clear career ladders with job descriptions, skills, expectations, and other requirements needed to move up the ladder. Discuss each employee’s career ambitions, and set goals and development plans to help them achieve those ambitions. Make it clear what it will take to succeed, so employees and managers both know when an employee has earned a promotion.
6. Get together for team building
Get your team together for activities outside of work—even if they’re virtual. This is a great way to bring employees together when they can’t mingle in the kitchen and hallways, or grab a meal or a drink together.
Virtual team building events can include things like a game night or Donut Slack integration. Or, when you’re able, you may choose to fly all employees to your headquarters once a year to meet in-person, or organize smaller meetups with employees who live nearest to one another.
Final thoughts on setting your hybrid team up for success
Hybrid teams will be new for many of us, so it’s important to gather employee feedback on what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve. Check in with employees regularly, and implement their feedback so they know you take it seriously. Allow hybrid work to evolve over time, and give employees plenty of notice if you change anything that will impact them in a significant way. Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial to ensuring success for your hybrid team.