Can a hybrid office really work? It’s the subject of a lot of derision these days, with some pundits saying it’s the worst of both worlds. But employees who grew accustomed to working from home — with the savings on time and money it brought — are requesting that they continue to work remotely at least three days per week. Many offices are responding with a hybrid model.

Making the hybrid workplace function is a new challenge for most human resource and office management teams. Take a look at some best practices as well as some potential mistakes as you create your hybrid office plan.

Keep a Level Playing Field for Advancement

Many workplaces brought back upper management first, leaving mid or entry-level workers at home. While this might seem like a nice gesture, it also sends a clear message: career advancement takes place in the office, not at home. Take careful stock of what your hybrid work policies are saying to team members who are hoping to move up and might feel like they’ve been sidelined with remote work. And give senior management the flexibility to work remotely as well, keeping everyone on the same plan.

Ask Teams What Works For Them

Some teams could be more effective on-site; some might even require access to tech on a regular basis which they can’t leverage remotely. Sweeping, across-the-board flex measures might not work for everyone in your company. If some teams will work better in-office more than others, they should be given that priority. Better yet, let your employees and their leadership decide. For example, GM’s hybrid approach is decentralized, allowing individual teams to decide what work schedule works best for them.

Consider Everyone’s Hours

If only some of your employees are working in the office, where is everyone else — and what time is it? An eight a.m. EDT meeting might feel borderline inhumane in New York City, but it’s absolutely alienating to an employee working from home in another time zone. When a workforce is on a remote/hybrid model, remember to consider everyone under that umbrella, and schedule meetings, calls, and conferences accordingly.

Make Sure Everyone Has a Seat

One of the primary pandemic-era goals of hybrid work has been to allow for social distancing, as well as to eliminate unnecessary office space expenditures. That could mean that not everyone has their own desk anymore. Plan ahead for where employees will sit on their in-office days. Consider Google’s move: the company is using mobile workstations which can be rearranged to accommodate different teams, as well as meeting rooms set up for remote and in-person collaboration. Regardless of office set-up, employees shouldn’t have to come to the office wondering where they’ll be working that day.

Provide Plenty of Meeting Space

Overwhelmingly, employees have said the one thing lacking in their remote work has been collaboration. To that end, cubicles aren’t going to cut it. When employees ask for hybrid work arrangements, they’re often asking for a few days a week to meet with colleagues and team members face to face. Repurposing various office space to provide meeting rooms will give your employees the tools they need to collaborate in person and head back to their home offices with clear ideas of what to work on next.

Overall, employees who have moved to remote work over the past year have reported increased efficiency and productivity. With the ability to work in person returning, it’s up to employers to listen to their employees and provide the best hybrid office solutions they can.

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