Hybrid work: how to find the ideal number of remote work days for your team?

Executive Summary:

Even though the hybrid work model provides several benefits in terms of cost, effective team management, company success, and work-life balance, companies are still asking their employees to come back to the office. However, asking for a complete return to the in-office routine might prove unhealthy for a company, because of a concept called employee experience. The hybrid working model has reportedly improved employee's experience, posing several positive benefits for the company. But how can you tell what days should be dedicated to remote work and what days your employees should come to the office?

  1. Ask for employee preferences: Ask your managers and other team leaders to conduct surveys within their teams. Listen to their feedback carefully and take their pulse.
  2. Consider the nature of their work: A person in the sales and marketing department might not need to be in the office as much as the receptionist or the customer service officer.
  3. Assess how remote work has impacted your team: The factors that can help you assess your employee's work performance include the team's method of communication, the employee's project schedule variance (PSV), the level of teamwork, the impact on employee socialization, and the company's revenue Growth Rate.

If you wish to adapt the hybrid working processes to be just as efficient or even more efficient:

  1. Turn physical meetings into asynchronous communication with tools like email and chat apps.
  2. Set realistic deadlines.
  3. Establish short team rituals weekly.
  4. In the case of a meeting, customize them for the hybrid workspace with visual presentations.
  5. Incorporate collaborative tools like video conferencing, task management, and document-sharing platforms for cross-functional collaboration.

After the COVID pandemic, many companies asked their employees to return to the office entirely. However, there are many benefits in terms of costs, work/life balance, and efficiency to leaving your employees the option to work remotely at least a few days a week: that is, hybrid work. In this article, we want to help managers understand these benefits and find a method to create a hybrid working calendar that fits any team.

Prerequisite: it must be technically possible for your team to work remotely (this article might - unfortunately - prove less practical for certain job functions, such as waiter, or pilots).

Why are many companies asking their employees to fully come back to the office, even in a post-pandemic context?

As we have mentioned earlier, the hybrid work model provides several benefits in the form of cost, team efficiency, company success, and work-life balance. So why do companies still want their employees to return to work and not do a completely remote working model? Here are a few reasons:

  1. Some companies believe a shared physical space promotes productivity and efficiency: Not that the remote working environment does not, but even you can accept that people working from home are more liable to distractions. In other cases, some employees could need help with cross-functional collaboration with other teammates due to the lag time that some remote platforms pose.
  2. Some companies dealing with sensitive information might prefer face-to-face interactions: There's no denying that the internet is a global world, and if you are well-encrypted or protected, most of your information is not private. For companies that handle confidential materials, there will always be a need for team members, employees, and team leaders to meet with you in person.
  3. Access to specific equipment and infrastructure demands in-office work: This part is only for those who sometimes need in-office materials, like hairdressers. But if the job demands that your employees sometimes need to use equipment in the office, like a fax or a stamp, they might need to come into the office.

But with everything we have said, you can already tell that you don't have to ask your employees to meet physically 24/7. Therefore, a hybrid work environment is an excellent alternative with benefits.

How can hybrid work benefit the employee experience?

We already discussed the cost, employee, and company success benefits, but what about the crown of it all — the employee experience?

Your employee's experience is not just about how they feel while working but it also strongly impacts the level of engagement, and therefore the extent to which your employees will be invested in their missions. It's about their constant mood, motivation, and engagement with the company's goals, visions, and missions.

Most of all, what they can say about your company when not at work.

Are they waiting for the next paycheck so that they can resign? Are they counting the days until the weekend so that they can stop working for a while? Are they watching their clocks for the day's end so that they can leave? Or are they taking the company's goals so personally that they will go the extra mile for its success?

While we cannot go into details about employee experience and its unmatched benefits for your company, we have a whole article dedicated to it. Nonetheless, you should know that a hybrid work model can bring engaged employees with remarkable working experiences.

What should you consider while assessing the ideal number of remote working days for your team?

Now that you know how important it is for you and your employees to have a structured hybrid workspace, how can you know what days should be in office and what days should be in remote?

The truth is that not every decision can please everyone. Some companies are better off having the whole week working from home, while others need to meet physically at least three times a week. The parameters below will help you determine the best system for you, your company, and effective team management.

Ask for employee preferences

The best way to know what your team wants is to ask them, right? But depending on your business size, you cannot ask every employee individually for their opinion. For a C-level executive, that's almost impossible. You can ask your managers and other team leaders to conduct surveys within their teams. Ask them to hold open discussions, depending on their team size, and try to do as much as possible for everyone in your company. Listen to their feedback carefully and take their pulse. Some people might want to return five days a week, while others would like to return, at most, a day a week.

Consider the nature of their work

Some employees might need to come to the office more than others. For instance, a person in the sales and marketing department might not need to be in the office as much as the receptionist or the customer service officer. So take the time to consider what your team does. Are there parts of their jobs that require them to be in the office on certain days? And could it be possible for them to work remotely if they want to?

Assess how remote work has impacted your team

Did your team perform as well or better during the pandemic than before COVID? If there is a (positive) difference, it means your employees perform better while working remotely. It also means you can implement more remote work days and have just a few (1 or 2) days for in-office meetings, either for client-employee representations or customer requirements. The factors that can help you assess your employee's work performance include the following:

  • Communication: What was the communication like? Were there many lag times? Did employees misunderstand or miss any information? Was it relatively difficult or easy for your employees to communicate with each other?
  • Project schedule variance (PSV): Were projects completed on time? Did managers turn over projects before the deadline? And if they were, was the quality maintained or increased? Or was it slacking from employees working from home?
  • Teamwork: Knowing that employee cooperation is vital for every company, did your employees do fewer team projects? Were most of the jobs handled individually or by teams? Did your employees utilize the benefits of collaborative tools? Was there a smooth flow of information among your employees, or was each person in their own bubble?
  • Socialization: Did your employees have more time to socialize with each other? Did they have breaks and fun times to try different activities? Did the remote work allow your employees more time for family and friends, or was the difference not specifically visible?
  • Revenue Growth Rate: What was the difference in the company's revenue at the end? Was there an increase or a decrease? If there was, what was the percentage difference, and is it something you wish to continue?

How can you adapt your working processes to be just as efficient, or even more efficient, in a hybrid mode?

Even though the hybrid work mode is very beneficial and highly adapted today by top companies and big-time executives, it still needs some work. If you allow things to slide carelessly, your employees working remotely could feel abandoned or disengaged. Therefore, you need to gear your managers and team leaders toward active and effective team management to get even more efficiency from the hybrid routine. Here are five ways you can achieve that efficiency:

Turn physical meetings into asynchronous communication

Asynchronous work consists in the possibility for employees to reclaim ownership of their time and inspiration by organizing their workload as they see fit, while keeping the set deadlines. This means less time spent in meetings with real-time communication, and more time for ideas to settle, for inspiration to strike, for ideas to sharpen, and so on. Overall, it gives your employee the autonomy to be effective and productive, and to schedule their missions according to their own rhythm.

Asynchronous work means less stress for your employees, and better quality of work. Asynchronous communication tools like project management platforms, visual management, or chat apps are great for minimizing the need for constant real-time meetings while allowing your employees to collaborate efficiently with different schedules.

Set realistic deadlines

Even though the communication method is not real-time, you must ensure your employees won't leave messages hanging without a response. Set a deadline for an answer so that even if they are working according to their schedules, the company's project is not on hold. Response deadlines can be set for a week or two, while project submission deadlines depend on the urgency of the work and the workload. The deadlines also boost active teamwork since all the team members become engaged and operational.

Establish short team rituals weekly

Another thing you can do is conduct short and regular team rituals, like daily online stand-up meetings or weekly check-ins. These rituals have to be quick and focused. Don't use the stand-up meeting to discuss a customer or what happened the other day. You can use it to delegate tasks or make much-needed announcements. It should have a clear agenda, with an allocation of specific time slots for discussions and a follow-up with action items after each meeting. These rituals will keep your employees connected, allowing them to share updates and address challenges. Therefore, it needs to be a short meeting that your employees know they can't miss.

In the case of a meeting, customize them for the hybrid workspace

If you want to incorporate virtual meetings, make them different from the (boring) all-talk arrangements one can usually find in the office environment. Make them hybrid work friendly. First, consider using video conferencing tools to ensure everyone is on the same page. Also, record important meetings to allow absent team members to catch up later, fostering inclusivity and ensuring that necessary information is not missed. Finally, employ visual aids, such as visual collaboration platform, to enhance remote presentations and ensure better understanding.

It's time to give it a go!

Once you've determined the ideal number of remote working days for your teams, in direct collaboration with them, and you've figured out what to do to maximize the influence of the hybrid model, it is time to give it a go. With the right collaborative tools adapted to hybrid work (such as Klaxoon Visual Platform), you can create a secure and productive work environment to enhance the employee experience even with the hybrid model. So don't hesitate to invest in collaboration tools and software that facilitate seamless communication and project management in remote and in-office settings. Some of our Klaxoon visual platform tools include video conferencing, task management, and document-sharing platforms for cross-functional collaboration.

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