5 HR considerations for hybrid working
During the pandemic, employees have often proved they can successfully work from home (WFH) whilst enjoying more flexibility. At the same time, however, many workers miss being in an office with colleagues, whether that’s for easier collaboration, socialisation, or a combination of factors. But it doesn’t have to be 100% one vs. the other. Hybrid work, with a mix of WFH and going to the office, can provide a happy medium.
Yet hybrid work can look very different from company to company. One company might ask workers to be in the office, say, Tuesday-Thursday, whilst another might let employees WFH as often or little as they’d like.
So, to make a successful transition, companies need to figure out what this new model looks like for them and determine what tools and processes are needed to support this new environment. HR teams have an important role to play in transitioning successfully.
From collecting feedback on what hybrid work should look like, to deploying new human resource software that facilitates hybrid work, HR departments can make several changes that support this transition.
To help HR leaders figure out what to focus on and overcome some of the challenges that can exist in a hybrid-working environment, we’ve compiled the following list of HR considerations:
1) What does hybrid work ideally look like for employees?
One of the most important considerations when transitioning your company to hybrid work is to take employee feedback into account, rather than prescribing what hybrid work will look like. In a tight labor market, and one where workers have often reevaluated what they want out of employment, it’s important for HR to help design a hybrid-working environment that employees can get behind. In turn, that can lead to benefits like better staff performance and easier recruitment.
So, what do employees want? Around two-thirds of UK workers prefer a hybrid-working environment, as opposed to full-time remote or full-time in the office, according to a survey by architecture firm Gensler. Within that group, workers are nearly split between the choices of working one-to-two days at home vs. three-to-four days at home.
Ask your employees where they fall on this spectrum. Perhaps your staff leans more one way than the other, such as if many have family responsibilities that prompt them to prefer WFH. Or, perhaps the type of work your company does allows for asynchronous work, so employees don’t necessarily have to be in the office the same days as one another.
2) What does hybrid work ideally look like for management?
Whilst getting employee feedback on hybrid work is certainly important, it’s also helpful to see how that aligns with what management wants. Perhaps management wants employees in the office four days per week, whereas employees want the flexibility to choose when and for how long they come into the office.
In these types of scenarios, HR can play an important mediating role. If the problem is that management is unconvinced of the benefits of WFH, for instance, then HR might be able to help by sharing data from employee performance reviews, turnover rates, employee engagement scores, etc.
That’s why it’s important for your HR department to consider HR software that helps you control your data. You can leverage employee data to help design a hybrid-working environment that both employees and management can get behind, rather than guessing at the best approach.
3) How will we onboard new employees in a hybrid-working environment?
One issue that some companies face with hybrid work is managing new employees. During the recruitment phase, more interviews might occur remotely. Then when it comes time to bring new hires up to speed, past HR processes might no longer apply.
For example, an onboarding process might have involved having new employees shadow different business groups in the office and meet with department leaders for the first few days. But, if employees are only coming into the office once per week, or if they’re coming in on their own schedules, then finding time for these onboarding processes might be more challenging.
So, HR may need to find ways to adapt for operational areas like getting payroll setup and handling benefits administration management, as well helping new employees feel part of the team. Some workforce management tools might offer remote onboarding support. Things like digital onboarding paperwork, training videos, and internal communication platforms might help new employees get up to speed and get to know other staff whether they’re in the office or WFH.
4) How will we support employee engagement in a hybrid-working environment?
Similar to providing onboarding support for new hires, HR teams also need to find ways to successfully manage existing staff in a hybrid-working environment. One thing that HR and other leadership might worry about is whether employees will still be engaged with their work and the company as a whole if they’re not interacting in person as much.
As a Microsoft report notes, “certain elements of office life are deeply missed by workers, meaning HR leaders have new areas of focus around professional development, skills, and workforce socialisation.”
One approach HR might take is surveying staff to see how they’re feeling and whether your company needs to make any changes. For example, if employees aren’t feeling like they don’t have the same camaraderie as they used to when working in the office full-time, then maybe you can plan more social activities, like remote game nights or semi-annual company retreats.
Another angle, which comes back to the need to control your data via an HR system, is to analyse areas like turnover rates and feedback within employee reviews. Perhaps employees aren’t communicating a direct need for a better employee experience, but that doesn’t mean that the company wouldn’t benefit from more employee engagement. So, a strategic HR team might implement new programs that fit well with hybrid work and help employees feel good about where they work, such as virtual fundraisers or community service events that take place outside the office.
5) Do we have the technology in place to support hybrid work?
Lastly, HR teams need to consider whether they have the right technology in place to support hybrid working. That includes looking at whether your HR software is up to the task — such as to support remote onboarding and employee engagement — as well as coordinating with other departments to see if employees have sufficient software to complete their work.
Whilst doing so may seem to be more of IT’s responsibility, HR can play an important role in getting a company’s tech aligned with hybrid work. If HR managers are plugged into what employees want from a hybrid-working environment, they can then collaborate with IT leaders to find the tools that help employees do their jobs well and feel supported.
For example, while one type of project management tool might be more advanced from a technical standpoint, perhaps employees would prefer a tool that’s easier to collaborate within.
Make the switch to hybrid work seamless
Many companies had to switch from in-office to remote work almost instantaneously during the early days of the pandemic. Now, however, as hybrid work looks to be part of the future of work, HR teams can think a bit more strategically about how to make the switch to hybrid work seamless. That doesn’t mean time isn’t a factor, but you may be a bit less rushed and can evaluate different solutions.
In particular, HR teams can consider different types of HR platforms to support their own needs and employees’ needs. HR tools can provide several benefits for hybrid workforces, ranging from cloud access that enables HR employees to WFH, to virtual onboarding tools, to data collection and analytics features that help HR staff gauge what employees want out of their hybrid setups.
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