Four ways to make hybrid working work for your organisation

The impact of COVID-19 has seen many organisations asking their employees to work part of their time at the workplace and part remotely, as hybrid working becomes the norm for many of us.

Whilst hybrid working offers a range of benefits, such as greater flexibility for staff members in their work/life balance, there are some potential pitfalls too.

The challenges for employers when implementing hybrid working focus around issues like ensuring all staff are treated fairly, inclusion, collaboration and productivity.

Here are four practical steps your business can follow to get the most out of hybrid working now and into the future.

Recruit for skills that lend themselves to hybrid working

Recruiting people for a hybrid working team is different to recruiting a team that will be managed on site, face to face. Working remotely doesn’t suit everyone and hybrid team members must have remote team qualities, as well as the core skills and experience for the job role.   

The remote-working skill set includes: self-management skills (good time management, good energy management); above-average self-motivation; and very strong oral and written communication skills (including very good listening skills).

This means you must ensure that all your team members work as well remotely, as they do on site. Accordingly, structure your recruiting process differently to ensure you employ the right people and start with two highly-relevant steps: check for verbal articulation skills and listening skills.  

Start your interview process with a 30-minute telephone call to discover how articulate the candidate is. In the same telephone-based interview, ask the candidate to respond to two simple questions via email. 

Ask the candidate to repeat the questions in their email response and answer them with no more than four or five sentences. If a candidate doesn’t listen properly during a job interview, it’s likely the same will happen once that person becomes part of a hybrid team.  

Consider each team members circumstances 

It’s important that out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind when it comes to managing hybrid workers. 

Although some team members may only spend little or even no time in the office, they should be treated the same as their colleagues who are more visible because they spend more time at the office.

You can ensure fairness by offering a hybrid arrangement to everyone on your team that works for them (like Evernote’s Work from Anywhere program). But, you must think about the unique circumstances of each team member and the specific issues they may face. For example they may have childcare commitments at home or poor and unreliable internet connections. 

Use the right channels for communication and collaboration

You and your team need to pick the right channel for the right type of communication whilst working on a hybrid model. 

Decide together what types of communications should happen via which channels, which will help your team meet deadlines and build the trust that’s crucial to succeed. 

Follow the hierarchy of communication channels (face to face is best, followed by video call, phone call, email, then text message) and choose the right channel.

Also, make sure all communication is clear about the three W’s: WHO, does WHAT, by WHEN. Once you have this clarity for internal communications, meeting requests and commitments will be much easier.   

Use productivity hacks

Research shows that knowledge workers spend about 80% of their working time communicating or collaborating through emails, meetings, chat, and messenger. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave much time to do deep work (the most challenging and important tasks), so getting the most out of meetings is crucial. 

Make sure you and your team never have a meeting without an agenda in the calendar invite. And add links for pre-meeting reading directly to the invite so everyone can prepare properly. 

Also, try shrinking your meetings. Just because your calendar may default to creating 30 or 60-minute meetings, that doesn’t mean you need to have meetings that long. For instance, you could try 25 minute or 50 minute meetings instead. 

Also, consider a physical AND digital declutter – in both office spaces and remote working spaces. Research shows that because of data overload the average knowledge worker wastes about two and a half hours per day searching for information. 

Ultimately, following the steps above will help you and your team to boost your organisation’s productivity and get the most out of hybrid working.