Need to develop a hybrid office policy that just works? We’re here to help you with intelligent strategies, and real-world examples from successful hybrid teams.
- A Hybrid Office Policy is a document clearly stating a company’s expectations of hybrid workers.
- It covers eligibility for hybrid work, impact on salary, expectations around working hours and channels of communication, how performance will be monitored, and how to use video meeting technology.
- Launch your policy sensitively by co-creating the policy itself with your workforce and inviting feedback on the document before finalizing it.
- Maintain culture and cohesion with virtual social events.
What is a Hybrid Office Policy?
A hybrid office policy is a written statement detailing how your hybrid office operates. It includes essential information for employees such as working hours, and whether these are flexible. It also includes information on acceptable working locations such as the office, home, and other remote locations e.g. co-work spaces. Additionally, cover off any expectations a company has around employee communication. For instance, what channels they should use (e.g. Slack, e-mail) and appropriate response times. Any points of clarification that make understanding your company’s hybrid workstyle should go in the policy.
Who should create a Hybrid Office Policy?
Your Hybrid Office Policy should be created by a combination of stakeholders, typically including representatives from HR and management. It is also a great idea to create yours with input from other people in different departments and at different levels of your workforce. Writing the document in a collaborative way results in a policy that everyone can take ownership of and champion. You will typically need to carry out a few rounds of amends to the document, getting feedback from stakeholders and making any necessary amends before considering it final.
What should I cover in a Hybrid Office Policy?
Reason for hybrid working
Start with a clear rationale as to why the company has decided to embrace hybrid working, outlining the benefits to employees and the company such as more flexibility and greater work-life balance.
Who is and isn’t eligible for hybrid working
Detail who is and isn’t eligible to go hybrid. Not all job roles can function off-site. For instance, people working in manufacturing typically need to be physically present on the production line. Whether a job role is or isn’t eligible to work remotely, be sure to explain why so that employees can understand the decision. If any job roles need approvals from managers to go hybrid, those should also be detailed and the correct contacts given so employees can take the necessary next steps.
How salary is impacted by hybrid working
If an employee’s salary is impacted by going hybrid, be sure to flag this clearly. Many companies pay the same salary regardless of whether their employees choose an office-based or hybrid workstyle. However, there are exceptions. Facebook adjusted employees’ salaries if they chose remote work and then relocated to a lower-cost region. Whatever your company’s approach is, state it clearly as salary is one of the biggest factors affecting employee satisfaction.
Expectations of hybrid workers
Outline any expectations relating to how often people are expected to be on-site versus remote. For instance, are people expected on-site for client meetings? Or is there flexibility around this? How frequently are people expected to be on-site? Or can they be 100% remote if they choose? It’s also sensible to cover expectations for remote working, primarily core working hours and the extent to which these are flexible.
Finally, you’ll want to cover the channels people should use for communication. Traditionally email was the primary channel, but today it is common to also use platforms like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and more.
Maintaining company security
Remote working can compromise company security (and employee privacy) if not managed proactively. Get clear on the processes employees need to adopt to keep sensitive data safe e.g. regular password updates, using work devices not personal ones, using authenticator apps etc.
Did you know? Hybrid working revolves around video meetings. Neat’s video collaboration devices come with Neat Boundary, an innovative feature that allows you to set the visual parameters of your meeting area. Nothing beyond those parameters can be seen, which is a great way to keep confidential information on office walls hidden, as well as family members who may walk by when you’re working from home.
Tech support for video meetings
WFH relies on video conferencing, so be sure to provide links to user-friendly resources for training and troubleshooting all things video – as well as contacts for IT support.
Did you know? Neat devices reduce the volume of calls to IT support because they are built to be simple and intuitive to use, with no training required.
Hybrid employee wellness
While employees might not be in the office, companies still have a duty of care to look after their workforce physically and mentally. Use the policy to cover how employees can access suitable furniture and equipment for their home office e.g. an ergonomic chair. Also, details of any initiatives available designed to promote mental health. These could be virtual socials to tackle social isolation, online mindfulness classes, or anything else your employees will find beneficial.
Hybrid meeting equity
A common concern amongst hybrid employees is meeting equity, how to have equal weight in meetings when some people are at the office and others are remote. Tackle this concern head-on in your policy by explaining what your company will do to support equity. The primary way to ensure a level playing field between on-site and remote employees is to invest in video conferencing technology that is purpose-built for hybrid meetings. Like Neat devices, with their Neat Symmetry functionality. Neat Symmetry restores meeting equity by displaying everyone equally on-screen, giving the same prominence to all, no matter where they are.
Another concern is how will employees’ personal performance be measured, when working remotely could lead to less visibility of their effort. So be clear in your policy that performance can in fact still be monitored effectively, and rewarded. Define the performance indicators hybrid employees will be measured by. For instance, quality and quantity of output, peer reviews, client reviews, etc. Also schedule regular virtual performance reviews, so progress can be discussed and any issues raised.
Where to get more information
Lastly, close your policy with information on how people can find out more about anything not covered in the document. This is typically the name of a contact who can respond to queries, along with their contact details. If you can provide links to additional resources then provide these too. Think FAQ documents, research on hybrid work, and any employee survey results that informed the policy.
How to launch a new Hybrid Office Policy
Think of launching a new hybrid working initiative as a marathon, not a sprint. People need time to digest new information and to adapt to big changes, so stagger the amount of information that you distribute to the workforce for success. Here is a foolproof three-step process that you can follow.
Spread the word
Begin simply by letting employees know that the company will soon be adopting hybrid working and that more information will follow. This news can be sent by email and in a relevant Slack thread or similar.
Next, invite employees to a meeting where the basics can be outlined, being sure to give people the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback – both at the meeting and privately at a later date. You should also use this meeting as an opportunity to explain that a policy will be co-created, taking into account feedback from employees. You may or may not wish to open up the process of drafting and developing that document to representatives from the wider workforce. The pros of doing this are that the workforce can take more ownership of the resulting policy, helping them to get behind it with confidence. The con is that involving more people slows the process down. So weigh up what option works best for you.
Share the policy
Once your hybrid working policy is complete, share it company-wide. Notify people by email and Slack if you use it. The policy should be permanently hosted on a company portal or intranet so that it is always accessible. You also need to include details about how people can find out more e.g. key contacts, and links to additional resources.
Examples of Effective Hybrid Office Policies
Get inspiration for your hybrid working policy from other companies who have implemented flexible working schemes.
Here are some key points from Google’s hybrid working approach:
- Most Googlers are hybrid, spending approximately three days in the office and two days elsewhere.
- Google’s policy allows Googlers to apply for fully remote work, on the basis that their role and team’s needs can accommodate a fully remote approach.
- Googlers are granted ‘focus time’, an initiative that places limits on internal meetings during times when people need to be heads-down on projects.
- Salaries are adjusted if employees relocate to lower-cost areas.
- Googlers may temporarily work from more far-flung remote locations for up to 4 weeks per year (with their manager’s approval). The goal is to give everyone more flexibility around summer and holiday travel.
- Googlers are given the opportunity to move around throughout their careers, by applying to move to another office elsewhere in the world.
Here are some key points from Neat’s hybrid working approach:
- All Neaters are eligible for hybrid working and most Neaters choose to be 100% remote, working fully from home, with the option to attend the office when they want if they wish.
- Neaters are given core working hours (e.g. 9 am to 5 pm), however have the flexibility to adjust these hours to their personal needs providing they can still do their job effectively and be present for other team members.
- There are no salary readjustments if a Neater decides to relocate to a lower-cost region.
- In addition to annual leave, Neaters can request additional ‘unlimited leave’ days off from their line manager – with zero impact to their salary.
Here are some key points from Slack’s hybrid working approach:
- Slack’s office in San Francisco is no longer considered to be home-base. Instead, the digital channels within Slack itself are the HQ. This puts every member of the team—no matter where, when or how they work—on a level playing field, with most Slackers choosing to WFH.
- Teams at Slack have ‘sync hours’ when people are available and fully present, as well as dedicated ‘maker hours’ when individuals have time and space for deep, focused work – similar to Google’s ‘focus time’ initiative.
Lessons learned from successful hybrid workplaces
What’s clear is that no two companies’ policies are the same. Every company has unique needs and that is reflected in the different nuances of their policies. Take inspiration from other companies, then filter what is relevant for you. It’s also okay to evolve your policy over time, as you get to better understand how your approach is and isn’t working, updating your documentation as required. You may even like to commit to regular policy reviews and updates.
Finally, a note on adjusting salaries when employees move to lower-cost regions. While some companies have implemented such a policy, it is sensible to think long-term. Salary adjustments and limits on geographical flexibility may impact employee retention, and your company’s ability to attract new talent.
Did you know? 37% of employees think about switching jobs if they cannot work remotely.
6 Ways to Maintain Culture and Cohesion for Hybrid Workplaces
One challenge that hybrid workplaces face is maintaining a sense of culture and togetherness, but there are things you can do to mitigate the risks. Here are some thought-starters for you to consider.
- Using digital tools for seamless communication – Choose hybrid-first video meeting technology like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Plus Neat devices that unlock the full potential of these video platforms, deliver a superior audio-visual experience and meeting equity. Check out our blog post ‘Easy Meeting Equity for Your Hybrid Teams’ to find out more.
- Encouraging active participation and engagement – Video meeting hosts can boost attendee engagement by proactively inviting them to digitally ‘raise their hand’ and make a contribution, and by opening the floor to the wider team at the end of presentations. If people know that their thoughts are wanted and valued, they’ll share more readily.
- Promoting transparency and openness – It’s easy for conversations that happen offline (e.g. in the office) not to be relayed to remote teammates, but make a point of thinking ‘hybrid first’ All important conversations about projects need to be shared with everyone, regardless of their location. A great way to make this habit is to set up a Slack channel or similar for each project and ask everyone on that project to share all relevant updates and information in that space.
- Celebrating achievements and milestones – Nothing boosts productivity and positivity like praise, so always celebrate individual and team accomplishments. This could be as simple as a shout-out at your next team meeting, or you could go the extra mile with a reward. ‘Teammate of the Month’ is a great honor to receive and extremely easy to implement.
- Virtual team-building and socials – Where once teams might have enjoyed an evening out, today’s hybrid teams should take to the video space to take part in team-building activities and socials. But with a little creativity, there are plenty of options. And you can lean into a social dynamic or a problem-solving dynamic as per your team’s needs. Invite your teammates to share their ideas for social and cultural initiatives. For example, a regular virtual water cooler for parents, women in business, or hobbyists like bakers and film buffs. You can also check out these 38 team-building ideas and implement your favourites.
- Encouraging cross-functional collaboration – It’s also important to create online moments for people in different teams and departments to share and connect. This promotes cross-pollination of ideas from people looking at the business from different angles, but each with an important perspective. Themed virtual brainstorms are great for this, where a topic or question is proposed in advance and anyone can attend and share their research or thoughts. Good questions to pose include:
- What are the industry trends this year and how do they impact us?
- What small wins could boost client satisfaction?
- What simple habit could boost productivity?
Neat Solutions for Hybrid Teams
Unlike other video device manufacturers, Neat was created to support – not just video meetings – but hybrid working. We have innovated to address the specific challenges that come with hybrid working. For example, we designed our patented Neat Symmetry technology to solve issues around ‘meeting equity’ that can arise on video calls. With Symmetry, everyone is presented with equal prominence on-screen whether they are in the office, at home – even moving around!
We also created Neat Frame, a portrait-oriented device that enhances WFH and hotdesking by bringing more focus, visual and audio clarity to video meetings. And we make next-generation videobars and multi-touch screens for hybrid meeting rooms: Neat Board 50, Neat Bar, and Neat Bar Pro.
To find out more about any of our devices simply contact one of our product specialists at email@example.com. Or book a demo.
How can a well-designed hybrid office policy benefit my business?
A clear hybrid office policy prevents confusion and promotes confidence and positivity around a new hybrid initiative. When everyone is clear on a company’s expectations of their hybrid workers, people can get on with what they do best – doing great work. A clear policy also boosts employee satisfaction, as the benefits of the policy to the individual are clearly laid out and digested. Of course, an enticing hybrid policy is a great way to attract new hires too and boost retention.
What are some common challenges in managing a hybrid workforce, and how can they be overcome?
The most common challenge is inadequate video meeting technology so choose yours wisely. A high-quality audio and visual experience is key, free from glitches, echoes and sound delays. Neat devices are purpose-built for the era of hybrid working, delivering the highest quality video experience.
Burnout is another challenge, caused by too many online meetings which can lead to video fatigue. Educate your workforce on how to work effectively from home, encouraging them to take regular breaks and balance time spent on video and getting their head down alone.
Social isolation is also common amongst people who WFH. Besides, encouraging people to come into the office for in-person time (if that’s part of their workstyle arrangement), create regular opportunities for people to join virtual socials and ‘just for fun’ online chats.
Check out our blog post ‘10 Challenges for Remote Workers in Hybrid Offices & Solutions’.
What are some tools and resources, like Neat products, that can help with managing a hybrid workforce?
Neat Bar is a simple and elegant, compactly designed yet highly capable meeting room device for Zoom or Microsoft Teams. It’s perfect for bringing superior-quality audio and video to your meeting, huddle or focus rooms for up to ten people. You can mount Neat Bar above or below one or two monitors, and it comes with Neat Pad, our dynamic touch screen, which you can use to control your meetings or display room availability outside the room.
Neat Board 50
Designed for the flexible future of work, our multi-touch screen Neat Board 50 swiftly adapts to you whenever, wherever and in whatever way you need to meet or express your ideas. Wheel it from space to space. Draw it towards you. Move its inviting 50-inch touchscreen up or down. Neat Board 50 allows you to interact and collaborate smoothly and efficiently – perfect for creative brainstorming and whiteboarding.
Neat Pad is a simple and elegant touch screen that you can use to control your meetings or display room availability outside the room. With its sleek design, including ideal screen angle for smooth interaction and viewing, Neat Pad beautifully blends in anywhere, whether placed on a table, wall or mullion. Thanks to just one Power over Ethernet cable, Neat Pad never runs out of battery either. It’s always on, ready for you to leap into action.
A hybrid approach to work. Google.
This is how IBM and Slack are approaching hybrid work. Fast Company.
38 Best Virtual Team Building Activities in 2023. Museum Hack.