Create a Hybrid Workplace Strategy for Success | Prosci
Written by Evelyn Williams
Updated: January 30, 2024
Published: January 2, 2024
Hybrid work isn’t going anywhere. In fact, Q4 of 2022 saw 53% of workers using a hybrid model, up from 18% in Q2 of 2020.
People want a better work-life balance—and splitting their time between working at home and the office can help them achieve this. They have more flexibility with their time, a better variety of places to live, and lower commuting costs.
This article will guide you through some best practices for planning a successful hybrid workplace strategy, helping you learn how to provide better work-life harmony with a hybrid workforce.
Find out what employees want from a hybrid workplace, how to ensure smooth communication, and what to look for when planning your digital infrastructure.
How to Create an
Effective Hybrid Workplace Strategy
Creating a hybrid workplace strategy allows you to plan, manage and execute a successful hybrid workforce. It’s an evolving component of modern businesses, not just a temporary measure post-pandemic.
It helps you identify the work that needs to be in the office, which informs who needs to be in the office at certain times and in what capacity.
Plus, if you’re changing from in-person or fully remote to a hybrid work model, a clear strategy helps you manage the change. You can show team members why you’re moving to hybrid, its benefits, and how it will impact their day-to-day work life.
Here are common elements to consider when creating a hybrid workplace strategy.
1. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish
What will you accomplish by launching a hybrid workforce? Understanding the reason behind your switch will inform the rest of your strategy.
Here are some questions to consider:
- What’s the reason behind going hybrid? Specify exactly why you’re deciding to go hybrid. Is it to improve employee work-life balance? To allow the benefits of remote work while still enabling face-to-face communication? Whatever it is, have a clear understanding of your reasoning. This will guide the rest of your decisions.
- Why now? Clarify why it’s important to go hybrid at this particular point in time. You might be responding to changes in the landscape, aligning with industry trends, or looking for a way to improve employee satisfaction.
- What’s the risk of not going hybrid? Consider what will happen to the business if you don’t go hybrid. It might impact productivity, interfere with employee morale, or limit access to a broader pool of potential employees.
Answering these questions also helps to:
- Minimize resistance
- Increase employee buy-In
- Make the change easier to manage
By explaining the “why” behind the change and outlining the positive impact, you’re more likely to gain their support.
2. The space requirements for your hybrid vision
Thinking about shifting to a hybrid workplace? Great!
Let’s talk strategy
Here are a few important questions to start with:
- What's your goal? Why are you moving toward a hybrid setup? Is it to give your team a better work-life balance, to keep up with the latest trends, or something else?
- Why now? What's pushing this change today? It's crucial to understand the why at this moment so you can own your decision and communicate it effectively.
- What are the risks? Consider the risk—your team could lose its spark, feeling restricted and less engaged. Plus, you miss out on staying competitive and innovative in a business landscape that relies on you staying ahead.
With a strategy in place, let's figure out how your office space can reflect this.
Match your space to your strategy
Here's what to consider:
- A space that makes sense. What kind of space does a hybrid strategy need? Think about size and location but consider flexible and more collaborative workspaces with unique layouts that provide variety.
- Plan smart. Get your office layout decided upfront. This way, the space fits your vision of a hybrid model, and you won’t get swayed in your decision by your team.
Plan your space with your hybrid goals in mind for a workspace that works well and feels right for your team.
Bringing everyone on board
Anticipate resistance from employees and think about how to help them overcome their barriers.
Change is tough, but transparency goes a long way. Sharing that you’re redesigning your workspace to align with hybrid goals helps everyone understand and embrace the vision.
You also need to consider how these changes affect individuals' workspaces. Keep an open dialogue about personal preferences and emotional responses.
Highlight the benefits
Don’t underestimate how people feel about their personal workspace. People can have strong emotional reactions to not having their own place, not being able to hang up their pictures, and not having their own trash can. These reactions lead to resistance.
To navigate this, remember:
- Communicate the “why.” Clearly explain the benefits of the new workspace changes. For instance, a flexible layout aligns with the key expectations of hybrid work, like better collaboration.
- Get feedback. Run surveys or listening sessions. This is a chance for everyone to voice what they need and feel valued in the process.
- Emphasize flexibility and teamwork. Stress how the changes will make working together easier and offer more personal choice in how and where work gets done.
Consider these points and turn resistance into enthusiasm for our dynamic, flexible hybrid workspace.
This clarity of approach helps everyone grasp your vision and energizes the workspace—because it’s a hub of flexibility and innovation.
For more, explore these 5 tips for managing resistance to change.
3. Determine hybrid communication methods
Enabling effective communication is a common reservation for businesses moving to hybrid or remote work. It can be tricky to get used to, and challenges may crop up.
- Communication siloing
- Delays in response times
With clear communication methods in place, you can overcome silos and ensure all hybrid team members are engaged and connected.
Here are some ways to find the best communication methods:
- Talk to your team. Employees can struggle with different aspects of hybrid communication. A lack of feedback or communication is the biggest daily hurdle for introverts (32%), while extroverts struggle with too many communication channels (21%). Ask hybrid employees what they prefer to ensure you have clear and effective communication for your team. Would they like a combination of email, Microsoft Teams calls, and Slack messages? You will only find out by asking them directly.
- Test some options. Try a few different options to see what works best for your business. Most platforms offer a free trial or a demo to see how the basic features work—most free trials won’t offer all features—and whether it fits your hybrid team.
After deciding what channels work best for you and your team, you can set boundaries around communication. For example, you might develop on-screen protocols to prevent “Zoom fatigue.” Or ensure that teams only communicate during work hours by clearly stating everyone’s work hours and encouraging people to switch off at the end of the day.
4. Prioritize hybrid employee engagement
Sixty-one percent of hybrid employees say that “connection to my organization’s mission or purpose impacts my intent to stay.” So, to build a dedicated team of hybrid employees, you need to prioritize engagement.
The good news is that there are multiple ways to increase engagement for hybrid employees:
- Host team-building events. Forty-five percent of U.S. hybrid workers want to see their company invest in more team-building events to foster a strong culture and feel connected to their teammates and the entire business. These events could include an away day (in-person or virtual) or attending an event as a team.
- Recognize achievements. Celebrate milestones and achievements for hybrid employees to make them feel valued. It could be something small, like a direct email to someone to thank them for a good job, or something more significant and tangible, like giving employees a gift card or an extra vacation day. This helps you engage with virtual employees and show them you recognize their hard work from a distance.
- Provide training and professional development. Giving hybrid employees the chance to broaden their skills and grow with the business keeps them motivated. However, providing training for hybrid teams is different from in-person training. For example, you need to know how to facilitate virtual and in-person training with multiple screens and different kinds of software. How will you plan for that? What skills and support do they need? What needs to happen to make sure they’ll be successful? Think about the best ways to offer these sessions to your hybrid employees to ensure your efforts succeed. For example, you could host a day of in-house training with remote tasks to complete at home. And remember, you can always talk to them directly for their input.
You should also be mindful that when hybrid workers come into the office, they want to do work better suited to being in person with others. For example, in-person collaboration, brainstorming on a whiteboard, and not being on virtual calls that they could do at home.
5. Manage expectations
Expectations provide clarity for a hybrid workforce. It tells them how the workplace functions, how to work together, and the boundaries. It gets everyone on the same page, making it easier for teams to work effectively as a hybrid team.
It also builds trust between hybrid employees and management. Maintaining high levels of trust is a critical element for organizations to manage as they become hybrid and remote, so this is a key element of success to consider as you create your hybrid work strategy.
Your expectations help people buy into the chosen hybrid approach and give you a foundation to tackle resistance in the future.
Desire on day one isn’t the same as desire on day 14 after the excitement wears off and people start to think, “Wow. I really liked being at home on Zoom in my slippers, and I hate sitting in traffic.”
As change leaders, we must remember that the ADKAR® Model is dynamic, and we’ll need to revisit Desire to overcome resistance. Plus, our own research found that Desire is the biggest barrier to successfully implementing a hybrid workforce.
Here are some tips for managing hybrid expectations:
- Be as clear as possible. You need clear expectations about work hours, availability, communication boundaries, flexible work policies, data security protocols, and so on. After defining your expectations around these topics, you can communicate them directly to your hybrid team to ensure everyone understands what’s expected of them.
- Explain your boundaries. To minimize resistance, explain the reasons for your boundaries and the benefits of following them. For example, if you’re restricting communication times during the workday, you can explain that this will help to increase productivity and improve the quality of communication between team members. This puts you in a good position to address challenges.
When setting boundaries and expectations, consider employees with diverse abilities. You may need to revisit your expectations and make allowances for different circumstances.
For example, people with forms of ADHD may thrive in fully remote environments, meaning that they might prefer more time at home than in the office. People with physical challenges may struggle to commute and prefer additional flexibility around work hours and availability.
You can uncover how to address these abilities with initial strategy surveys or focus groups.
6. Create a hybrid culture
One of the top challenges hybrid employees face is feeling less connected to a company’s culture. The solution to this problem is creating a hybrid-first work culture.
A hybrid culture ensures that employees understand why hybrid work is important. It gets people on board to incorporate the hybrid work style while minimizing resistance, boosting motivation, and making it easier for team members to understand processes.
Here are some tips for creating a successful hybrid work culture:
- Incorporate hybrid working into your company’s values. Ensure hybrid and remote work is at the heart of your company’s values. Think about your culture, who you are as an organization, and how hybrid work fits into the picture. Let’s say that your company culture promotes open communication and collaboration. You can show hybrid work supports this environment with asynchronous communication tools and in-person collaboration rooms.
- Make it easy for team members to work remotely. Give hybrid employees the skills, tools and resources they need to work from home as effectively as possible. Communication plays a big part in ensuring that employees can perform their jobs to the best of their ability. By doing this, you’re showing employees that hybrid is a way of life for your business.
- Ensure everyone understands your hybrid work practices. Provide resources and communication on how your hybrid workplace functions. That way, everyone is on the same page.
7. Plan your digital infrastructure
To successfully launch a hybrid workplace, you may need to upgrade your digital infrastructure to meet the demands of the modern workplace.
A 2022 Global Hybrid Work Study revealed that networking infrastructure is essential for a seamless working-from-home experience. However, only 67.9% said their company had the right working infrastructure.
Good technology and solid IT support can improve your hybrid work success. It can bridge the in-person/on-screen divide to ensure that the remote employees are as engaged as in-person attendees, connected to the business, and working as part of the wider team.
Look at how one Prosci global partner leverages the Prosci Methodology to equip clients for digital transformation in Africa.
At Prosci, we began delivering the Change Management Certification Program virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. This digital transformation enables clients to meet their changing business and market requirements, which improves the overall customer experience.
What can you do to ensure your digital infrastructure is up to speed for a hybrid team?
Here are some suggestions:
- Review your current technology. Are there any tools in your current tech setup that won’t serve your hybrid workforce? Do you need to upgrade any existing software to better suit employees balancing working from home with coming into the office? Reviewing all your existing technology gives you a good starting point to identify what to remove and what you need.
- Identify your digital needs. Now that you have reviewed the technology you currently have in place, you can start to consider which technology you need for virtual, in-person or hybrid workplaces. For example, having flexible technology has been a critical enabler for some organizations and a debilitating barrier for others. So, think about what you need to complete work remotely, which systems you have to improve, and what your employees need to remain productive.
- Talk to hybrid team members for feedback and input. As mentioned throughout this article, communication is key, so talk to your hybrid employees about the type of software required. They may have some considerations you hadn’t thought of, and it’s best to get a wide range of viewpoints to ensure you cover all your bases.
In our hybrid workplace, let's focus our office days on teamwork and brainstorming—the stuff that's better together. It's about making our time in the office count.
Manage Change in Your Hybrid Workforce
A hybrid workplace strategy is the foundation for successfully launching a hybrid workforce.
When done well, it can help you achieve greater productivity, access global talent, reduce waste, and offer work-life balance to your valued employees.
If you’re thinking about how to manage the change to hybrid working, we can help.
At Prosci, we support businesses and individuals to manage the people side of change. We help your employees embrace and adopt change, ensuring everyone is equipped for the future. Find out more about our change management solutions.