The world of work has changed and now to successfully move into hybrid work situations, we need to be thoughtful and if we are, I believe we can see improved employee performance. The pandemic was the worst type of hybrid experiment with lockdowns, screaming children at home and many interruptions but yet we found that our employees were still productive. We have learned a lot and now we have a golden opportunity to create an environment where employees are happier and more productive. To be successful we must design plans, systems and principles to guide employees while giving as much flexibility as possible. Here are 10 steps to creating great individualized hybrid work plans for your employees.
1. Be Clear on your Organizations Hybrid/Remote Work Rules. Don’t get too wrapped up in finding a solution that is fair for everyone, as that is likely not possible. Your goal is to find out what your employees want and do your best to design a system that is a win for your organization and your employees. Different jobs will require different amounts of in-office work and different arrangements. Have a guiding policy that is clear but not overly restrictive.
2. Set Guiding Principles for your Organization or Department. These guiding principles set boundaries that each individualized hybrid plan must work within. The principles outline what is important to your organization and your people. These guiding principles give employees a purpose to rally behind and here are a few examples of principles you could use:
a) Time together matters
b) Find Time to Focus. (ex. No meeting Fridays)
c) The Customer Comes First (important to meet your client needs still if working remotely)
3. Create an Individualized Trial Plan. Put an agreed upon plan in writing that provides as much detail as possible on when and how work will get done. Try your best to come up with a plan that will be a win for the organization and the employee. Be very clear with your expectations and outline the importance of seeing results of their work. As a manager, be open minded and flexible as employees might have some great ideas. Set times when schedule will be blocked off for regularly scheduled personal/work activities. Updating personal calendars will be much more important than before so people know everyone’s availability. You may want to have a template agreement to work from for your organization, to be consistent and ensure everyone captures the important details in their agreements. Think about important stakeholders, most importantly the customer when making these agreements. Sign the agreement to show that everyone approved this plan, this will be important if there are performance management issues in the future.
4. Set a Review Date. Before implementing the plan, it is important to set a review date and perhaps a mid point check in. I would suggest 6 weeks would be good for the first review date and perhaps a check-in somewhere around the mid point.
5. Share the Plan. Communicate with any stakeholders about the new agreement/schedule and outline any changes that may be necessary. Stakeholders may raise some issues with the plan that you didn’t think of; that’s ok, go back to step 3 and amend the plan, its important to be flexible for these agreements to work.
6. Implement the Plan. Start on the agreed upon start date and remind important stakeholders of the change. Remind the employee that this is a trial and that you will do your best to support them so this plan can be a win for everyone. Explain that we may need to make adjustments to ensure this is a win for everyone so please do your best work and communicate as much as you can on what you need for this plan to be successful.
7. Midpoint Check-in. Here it is important for the manager and employee to raise any issues or concerns and make adjustments to the plan as necessary. Maybe you find out that the day for the regularly scheduled meeting doesn’t work for someone and you need to change the schedule. It is important to be honest and clear with any issues at this point as problems will not solve themselves if not addressed, and the plan could fail.
8. Stakeholder Check-In. In advance of the review meeting, it would be good to check-in with important stakeholders to find out if the plan is working for them. Give a week or so notice to allow time for a response.
9. Review Meeting. In the scheduled review meeting, you should include what was discussed during the mid-point check-in but this time you should also include stakeholder feedback. If the plan is working for everyone, great! If not, make any adjustments as needed and start back at step 3. If the plan is working, you can establish the plan on an ongoing basis but be clear that adjustments may be needed in the future. Communication will be key for this plan to continuing to be a win for everyone.
10. Ongoing Review and Adjustments. Things change and it will be important to have discussions about the plan on an ongoing basis. How much is necessary will depend on each individual situation and workplace and there may even be a time when this plan will no longer work at all. With any major change, a new or adjusted plan may be needed so it will be important to go back through the steps again as necessary.
There you have it, follow these 10 steps and I believe you can create a plan that will be a win for you and your employees. Be flexible and listen to your employees and look at this as an opportunity to become an even better organization than you were before.
I hope you found this article helpful. I am an experienced HR executive and I have read every book and watched every bit of training and content I could find on the subject of Hybrid and Remote work. If you need some assistance in creating a hybrid or remote work system for your organization, our team can help you thrive in the new world of hybrid work.