Hybrid Workforces Aren’t One Size Fits All

Hybrid workplace. Organizational leaders tend to fully embrace or wholeheartedly dismiss the concept. Others fall in between, curious about what it could mean for their organization.

A hybrid workplace allows employees the flexibility to work from home some days and in the office on other days. Sounds simple enough, right? But even as hybrid workplaces become more commonplace, leaders are scurrying to figure out how—and if—it’s right for them.

In 2019, according to a Gallup poll, 60% of employees worked fully on-site, with just 8% fully remote. Cue the pandemic and the statistics flipped. In 2023, Gallup reported that just 20% of employees were working fully on-site and 29% were fully remote. That leaves half of employees working in some type of hybrid arrangement.

Many employees have embraced the flexibility offered by a hybrid arrangement—and some job seekers have come to expect it. Even as hybrid arrangements have become more prevalent, it can still be a struggle for organizations.

As you consider—or reconsider—a hybrid work arrangement, ask these questions:

  • Can we achieve our business goals with a hybrid workforce?
  • Do our mission, vision, and core values support a hybrid workplace?
  • What impact will a hybrid arrangement have on employees and clients?
  • To what degree is there a need for in-person collaboration?
  • How can we keep employees engaged—with one another and with the business?
  • How will we measure and ensure employee productivity?
  • What federal and state laws impact specific concerns of a hybrid workforce?
  • Do we have the technology in place to support a hybrid workforce?

While every leader has a personal opinion on hybrid work arrangements, personal stance cannot be the only consideration. Leaders must engage the organization’s board and top-level managers in the conversation. It is often wise to include the input of key employees. For hybrid arrangements to work, there must be consensus.

There must also be policies to guide the success of a hybrid workforce. A strong policy will:

  • Specify days for in-office and remote—what is required, what is optional
  • Clarify expectations regarding employee availability, response times, and preferred communication methods
  • Outline the dress code—for virtual meetings and in-office days
  • Explain how in-office workspace will be used, shared, and assigned
  • Summarize what equipment travels back and forth, and what equipment and documentation is for on-site use only
  • Include policies that extend to remote workers, such as safety policies, workers’ comp, and drug/alcohol
  • State that remote work arrangements are not to serve as a replacement for child or pet care

If at all possible, implement a trial period for your initial attempt at a hybrid work arrangement. Before the trial period begins, clearly outline timeframes and expectations for the trial. During and after the trial, stay in touch with employees and managers, soliciting their feedback on how well the trial is going and their suggestions for moving forward. Engage with key clients to assess how the hybrid arrangement is affecting the service and attention they are receiving from your organization.

As will all other successful endeavors, leaders must communicate clearly and consistently with all involved parties.

Hybrid work arrangements are here to stay. That doesn’t mean it is right for your organization and it also doesn’t mean that today’s arrangement will work in the future. All work arrangements—on-site, remote, and hybrid—are fluid and organic. They will need to change with and for employees, leadership, and the good of the organization.