The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the way many companies and employees think about remote and hybrid work models. Over two years later, these flexible arrangements are still evolving – what are some of the latest ways organisations are implementing and managing hybrid and remote employees?
One key trend is that more companies are embracing hybrid work rather than being fully remote or fully back in the office. Surveys show over 75% of company leaders plan to utilise a hybrid model post-pandemic. Hybrid work allows greater flexibility for employees by splitting time between working remotely and in the office.
Companies implementing hybrid policies are getting creative with how they structure schedules. Some do set days where everyone is expected in the office, such as Tuesdays and Thursdays. Others are leaving it more flexible for employees to choose their in-office days. Perks like free lunch are incentivising voluntary office days.
The latest best practice is to gather feedback from employees to understand what schedule would maximise engagement, productivity and work/life balance. Companies are conducting surveys and focus groups asking employees when they feel most productive, what environment helps them collaborate best, and what schedule fits their lifestyle needs. Finding the right balance between in-person and virtual collaboration has been a priority. Some key questions organisations are trying to answer are:
- What is the optimal mix of in-office and virtual meetings?
- How many days a week/month should teams be together?
- What medium works best for certain types of collaboration sessions?
The answers differ across industries, job roles, and even amongst individual employees. By collecting data, companies can pattern-match to understand what meeting rhythms and schedules yield the best results for creativity, connection, and productivity. The most progressive companies are testing different hybrid models with pilot teams before rolling out policies company-wide. And they continue evaluating after implementation, recognising that adjustments may be needed as people get accustomed to new routines. The future of work remains a learning process.
Full-time remote positions are on the rise as well. Fully distributed companies have created systems and technology to enable effective communication across time zones. For example, GitLab, a remote-only company with over 1,300 employees worldwide, developed an extensive internal handbook providing guidance on best practices for asynchronous communication. They outline everything from messaging etiquette to virtual meeting norms. Automattic, the company behind WordPress software, has a philosophy of “distributed everything” with a remote workforce spanning 77 countries. Automattic makes collaboration seamless through documenting processes in the open, hosting easily searchable discussions online, and live broadcasting meetings with remote participation from employees across multiple time zones.
Other fully remote companies like Doist and Buffer also invest heavily in internal tools for aligning global teams. They provide project management software, video conferencing capabilities, and team chats to streamline frequent updates. Remote work naturally supports more flexibility – with core hours typically being the only overlap. Outside of that, employees can set their own schedules. Fully distributed companies even have sophisticated onboarding programs welcoming new remote hires with buddy systems and ramp-up peer training. Investing in the infrastructure, technology, and cultural elements allows these organisations to tap global talent pools while supporting work/life balance for employees – a model likely to keep gaining steam.
No matter the exact work structure, creating an inclusive environment remains critical. Companies need to actively facilitate relationships between on-site and remote employees, through activities like pairing buddies and virtual water cooler conversations.
As hybrid and remote work continues to evolve, equity and fairness should be prioritised. Everyone from executives to interns must have access to similar opportunities for face time, 1-on-1 coaching, collaborating on critical projects and networking internally. Achieving this balance will be an ongoing process as flexible work models become the norm.
Stay tuned for more updates on the exciting ways companies are supporting the future of work! What changes have you noticed with flexible work options at your organisation? Share your experiences in the comments below.