The past year has proven that remote work has huge benefits for both employees and companies. Even when we do return to the office, it will not be in the same capacity. This is where hybrid work comes in. Hybrid work combines remote work and in-office work and gives companies the flexibility to create an entirely new work model that’s the best of both worlds.

What does hybrid work mean for your company and how can you implement a hybrid work model that keeps the business healthy and employees happy?

We hosted an “ask us anything” panel all about hybrid work, where we heard from Jessica Hayes, VP People at Whereby, Letica Castro Carrion, Head of People and Culture at Lingokids, Eva Yvonne Dang, People and Culture Manager at Order Yoyo, and Siobhan Harvey, HR Business Partner at The SR Group.

They shared their fresh takes and best practices on everything hybrid work and answered your most pressing questions:

Here’s what they had to say:

Which hybrid work model is the best? 

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

Figuring out what kind of hybrid model to implement will be one of the biggest commercial decisions companies will have to make as we recover from the pandemic. 

Tailor your company’s hybrid model to the way your business runs. HR can get a read from employees to understand their preferences, but ultimately companies will have to opt for a model that best serves their bottom line.

As Jessica Hayes, VP People at Whereby, pointed out, “this is not a decision that’s going to be democratized.” She recommends designing a model with these questions in mind:

  • What are your strategic aims?
  • What kind of talent do you want to attract? And from where?
  • What are the commercial implications?

How do you take employees’ opinions into account while also focusing on the company’s bottom line?

Ask your employees but don’t overpromise.

The hybrid work model you choose will impact your entire workforce, which is why it’s always best to ask for their input. 

Siobhan Harvey, HR Business Partner at The SR Group, said that to do this effectively, companies need to be clear to employees about what is viable and what isn’t.

If your company cannot run entirely remotely, don’t ask employees if they’d like to work that way. Set expectations from the start so that employees know what the company can deliver on and why. 

Siobhan recommends asking employees the following questions:

  • What kind of work would you prefer doing from the office?
  • What kind of work would you prefer doing from home?
  • Does your team need to be in a shared office space to work together? If yes, how many days per week?

These kinds of questions can also help employees carve out their weeks while working in a hybrid model, dividing tasks between home and office.

How can companies create culture in a remote world? 

Culture doesn’t begin and end in an office. It just becomes different, and you have to channel it in different ways.

All four speakers agreed that there are many ways to create culture, even while working remotely. Leticia Castro Carrion, Head of People and Culture at Lingokids, said it’s the little things that often have the biggest impact. Her company is based in Madrid but recruits globally, so she looks to the digital workspace to bring people together, encouraging employees to share photos and videos and connect through Slack for virtual coffee breaks. 

Here are some more suggestions:

Find small ways to connect

Use newsletters, shoutouts, or other internal communications to let teammates know you appreciate their contributions and to keep everyone in the company updated on wins, big and small. Create custom workscreens for holidays, or launch a photo/video challenge asking employees to share their best Halloween costumes or favorite lunch spot to order from. 

Stream company meetings across time zones

Being away from the office has presented a unique opportunity to connect a global workforce. Monthly all-hands meetings used to be at HQ, so remote workers or anyone not in the office would miss out. Now that video meetings are the norm, employees across the globe can listen in and take part. 

Cut out video happy hours and promote more personal time

Instead of forcing an office-centric culture into a hybrid work world, companies should feel free to reshape their views of what employees need from a company. Employees may no longer get their social energy from the office, freeing up time to spend with family and friends or on hobbies and side projects. Encourage employees to log off and do something they enjoy.

How do you care for employee wellbeing outside the office?

Work-life balance and employee wellbeing are always top of mind of HR pros. Eva Yvonne Dang, People and Culture Manager at Order Yoyo, said managers play an essential role in employee wellbeing. She recommends daily checks in between managers and employees, saying, “Managers need to see the person’s face, and hear their voice, even if it’s just for three minutes every day.”

Some more tips from our speakers:

Move away from the “presenteeism” model

Being a great employee is not about being online at all hours or sending a late-night email to impress your manager and show commitment. The best relationship between a manager and employee is one built on trust. Encourage employees to work the way they want to work and judge their performance by output and quality and not by how many hours they logged for the week.

Encourage employees to log off

When work is all around, it can be hard to unplug. Employees need to know that their wellbeing is the company’s concern as well. Let people know that work is not a 24/7 focus. Nothing is too urgent that it can’t wait for tomorrow. Preach the benefits of scheduling in small breaks during the day to meditate, cook, exercise, take the dog for a walk, or just to step away from the screen and look at something that’s not pixelated. Let employees know that unplugging is not just permissible, it’s essential. 

Another great tip that Eva shared to disconnect at the end of the day is to put away any chargers or computer equipment cluttering your house or apartment. When your living room also happens to be your office, this little trick can help you reclaim your space and stave off any “office-related” thoughts until tomorrow.

Make employees clock in so they know if they’re working overtime.

Eva’s company uses an analytics tool to log employee time and track how often they work beyond their set work hours. She logged in one day and was surprised to find she had worked 16 overtime days in the past month. “That was a shock, but knowing that was the first step,” she said. 

Rethink your meetings 

Encourage employees to leave their desks, turn the video off, and get some fresh air. Audio-only meetings are just as productive. Record important meetings or presentations so those who couldn’t make it can stay up to date on their own time. 

Hire to fit your hybrid culture 

While recruiting, HR needs to think about how the candidate and company working styles match up. If you work entirely remotely, hire independent people who can manage their own time and don’t need an office space to do their best work. On the other hand, for employees who have a hard time disconnecting when WFH, the idea of never going back to an office can be a nightmare. Recruiters need to be clear about what hybrid work looks like at their company and hire people who fit the culture. 

What’s next?

The hybrid work model is here to stay, and it’s enabling companies to completely rethink the hows and whys of the way we work. Without an office to tether employees, companies are free to recruit globally, reimagine what the 9-5 looks like, and give new meaning to work-life balance. The new hybrid work world might look different, but there’s never been an opportunity like this for HR pros to create real and lasting change. 

Click here to watch the full webinar

Annie Lubin

From Annie Lubin

Annie grew up in Brooklyn, New York. On a Saturday afternoon, you'll likely find her curled up with her cats reading a magazine profile about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.