After learning about the benefits of working from home, the manager of a start-up social media company decides to implement a hybrid work schedule for the team. Employees seem to enjoy the flexibility of working from wherever they like. Some team members choose to come into the office because they enjoy the social aspect of the workday, while others who prefer to be remote workers opt to do their jobs from their apartments, the library or the coffee shop - anywhere with a wifi connection.
The benefits of hybrid working quickly become apparent to the company. Remote workers are productive and efficient, and each employee gets to do what works for them and their lifestyle. The hybrid work model could be a game changer for the company, the manager realizes.
But after a few weeks, things get a little messy. The manager has trouble tracking down employees, unsure if they’ll be at their desk for a quick check-in or if a phone meeting needs to be arranged instead. The traditional Monday planning meeting is sparsely populated, with at least half the staff absent from the conference room in favor of working remotely.
It becomes clear that the team needs to get on the same page if a hybrid work schedule can continue at the company and reach its full potential. Enter: A hybrid work policy.
What is a hybrid work policy?
Hybrid work policies are the guidelines that shape an organization’s hybrid structure, whether it’s temporary or permanent. What days do employees get their work done in the office? What days are they working from home? What are the requirements when working from home, such as hours or expectations for communication? These are all questions that an effective hybrid work policy can answer.
A thorough and specific hybrid work policy gets team members on the same page because expectations are made clear. The goal is to have a policy that answers any questions that might arise in a hybrid work model.
There are numerous ways you can go about creating a hybrid work policy. It might look different at every organization, and even within the same organization, as different teams might have different preferences, requirements and needs.
Massive companies have experimented with hybrid work policies. Here are how some companies have approached hybrid work to give you some initial ideas:
Hybrid work policy ideas:
- Amazon: Corporate employees should be in the office at least three days a week
- Spotify: Most employees can work from anywhere
- Netflix: Generally not in favor of remote work
- Microsoft: Employees can work from home up to 50% of the time (with exceptions)
Next, we will go over several elements for you to consider as you’re developing a hybrid work policy and determining what will work for your organization. You can use these questions to guide you through the process.
Why is the organization implementing a hybrid work policy?
When making any sort of change, getting to the root of why you’re making the change can be a great place to start. Communicate with employees about why you believe a hybrid work policy will benefit the organization, such as a more flexible working environment or increased productivity.
A hybrid workplace has been shown to have numerous benefits for both individual team members and the organization as a whole. For example, a hybrid schedule can allow employees more choice and flexibility, leading to better work-life balance and greater productivity. A hybrid structure can also allow for more diversity since hiring decisions aren’t constrained by geography, as well as reduced costs if less office space is being used. Think about the ways that a hybrid work schedule, and a structured policy to back it up, will add to the company, and communicate these ways clearly so everyone will understand why the change is being made.
It’s also important for a hybrid work policy to fit the values, goals and culture of the company as a whole. Ensure that the policy strengthens these elements rather than detracts from them.
Read our DEI in Hybrid Work guide here.
Who does this apply to?
You don’t want any confusion about who the policy applies to. Is it a blanket policy that applies to all employees, or are team members eligible only after meeting certain conditions? Eligibility for hybrid work can be based on a number of things, such as longevity at the company, approval by a manager, or personal situations that may require it, such as childcare needs. If different roles are going to have different expectations, be clear about which roles are classified as in-office, hybrid, or remote.
No matter what you determine about who the policy applies to (and it could certainly apply to everyone), make sure it is clear so no issues about fairness can arise.
When should employees be in office? When can they work remotely?
Perhaps there is a particular day on which it’s helpful for all employees to be in the office, either on a regular basis like for a weekly or monthly planning meeting, or for special occasions, such as celebrations and other office perks or rewards. Make sure the expectations are clear and that any irregular meetings or in-office days are made known well in advance so everyone on the team knows what to expect and so they can plan their work around it.
Here are three different types of hybrid schedules to give you some ideas about what this could look like in your policy.
Types of hybrid schedules
- Cohort schedule: Managers determine what days all employees will be in the office and what days they will be home.
- Staggered schedule: Employees that come into the office work within a time frame of their choosing.
- Flexible schedule: Employees decide when they’ll come to the office and when they’ll work from home.
Take our start-up social media company, for example. Perhaps it’s determined that the public relations team can work remotely full-time, except for their weekly Friday morning meeting, while it’s best for the IT team to be in the office only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The best days and times for employees to be in the office can vary from team to team, and company to company.
You may find that a lot of flexibility will work for your organization, leaving it up to each team member to determine when they want to work from home and when they want to be in the office. But a set schedule, whether it applies to all employees or is determined on an individual basis, could add more structure and help team members know what is expected of them. No matter what you decide, make sure it’s clear in the policy.
Another idea is to have core hours: times when employees must be available for meetings or collaboration. Outside of those hours, the time is theirs to carry out their work and complete tasks however they see fit.
What are the other guidelines?
A hybrid work policy goes beyond setting schedules and deciding who will be in the office and when. There are other factors of a hybrid set-up that require clear guidelines so all team members know what is expected of them for the healthiest and most productive work environment. You should determine the specific ways that training, collaboration and employee development will be carried out in a hybrid work setting.
Here are some elements of hybrid work that you can consider addressing in your hybrid work policy.
Guidelines to outline in your hybrid work policy:
- Technology: What type of equipment do hybrid employees have access to? Are employees working from home required to use a VPN or multi-factor authentication?
- Onboarding: Who trains hybrid employees? Is the onboarding process completed in the office or remotely?
- Changes in status: Will a promotion or change in title affect an employee’s hybrid status (for example, if it’s required for all managers to work exclusively from the office)?
- Health: As we continue to adapt to the changing COVID-19 situation, will there be temporary social distancing measures or a vaccination requirement for employees that work in the office?
- Stipends: Will remote employees receive any assistance or perks, such as money to put toward home office needs or a coworking space membership?
There might be additional factors you want to address in your hybrid work policy that are specific to your company or employees. But these suggestions can give you a place to start and generate ideas about different things that might need to be covered in the policy.
How will the policy be communicated and implemented?
The most clear, thorough and well-researched hybrid work policy means nothing if it’s not clearly communicated to the people it will affect. You can even use a hybrid work policy template for creating the guidelines to make sure that all crucial elements we discussed above are included: why the policy is being implemented, who it applies to and what all the guidelines are. Make sure the policy is readily available and easy for all team members to access and reference.
To increase unity and make sure everyone is on the same page, define important terms in the policy so everyone is speaking the same working language. It might seem self-explanatory, but some might not be 100% clear on what is meant by “hybrid” or “remote.” Here are some potential terms that could be helpful to explain in your hybrid work policy. What these mean might be different for your particular organization, so be specific and customize it to what works for the goals and values of the company.
Terms to define
- In-office: Working in a traditional office set-up
- Hybrid: Working from the office some days and remotely other days
- Remote: Working from home or anywhere that’s not the office (i.e. library, coffee shop, coworking space)
- Core hours, or standard working hours: The times that employees are expected to be actively working, online, available for meetings, etc.
Consider this hybrid work policy example from Warner College as an example. Note that the “why” of the policy is addressed right off the bat in the “Purpose and Scope” section. Next, the relevant terms are defined clearly. Then the policy proceeds to explain the ins and outs of the guidelines: what a hybrid work arrangement entails and who is eligible for it.
Your organization’s hybrid work policy does not need to be complicated. It can simply be a document outlining all aspects of the policy and answering as many questions as possible that employees might have about the expectations for hybrid work.
It’s also important to have a process for when questions do arise or if the policy is not being adhered to. If the set-up is not working for certain employees, will there be an opportunity to revisit the policy? Being clear about all elements of the policy, and how it will be enforced when certain situations come up, is important for strengthening the policy and making sure that all team members are on the same page.
No matter what your hybrid work policy entails, there are a few foundational things to keep in mind that can help you as you’re beginning to develop a policy, and as you strive to maintain it.
Hybrid work policy tips
- Gather feedback from both team members, workplace managers, and human resources professionals so that every employee feels heard.
- Make sure the policy is concise and specific, with clear definitions.
- Circulate the policy widely.
- Be open to changes if you identify ways that the policy is not working to its full potential.
A flexible work arrangement has many benefits for an organization, and it can be instrumental in keeping a team, from the remote workers to the in-office workers, feeling satisfied, fulfilled and ready to succeed and make progress on their goals. A hybrid work policy gets the team on the same page and sets clear guidelines and expectations for the hybrid model. Hybrid work is here to stay, and you can determine how to implement it at your organization so that all team members can be set up for success.