Who is in charge of your hybrid model?

Business Insights

For many businesses, hybrid working is the future. By combining the positives of office and remote working, you can find a balance that works well for your employees and your organisation.

At the pandemic onset, remote and then – later – hybrid working was implemented rapidly due to immediate external factors. But now we have reached a point where for many businesses, hybrid is a choice being implemented with plenty of learnings behind it and with time to establish a proper procedure.

Why getting it right matters

Getting your hybrid model right is key for the success of your organisation. A company’s most important asset is its people, and people want a hybrid model that best suits their working needs. The Great Resignation is well documented – talented individuals are choosing to leave work in pursuit of work-life balance, growth opportunities, remote options and a more respectful environment. We can see from this how much emphasis is being put on flexible working and the option to work remotely.

Businesses who get their hybrid model right will better retain their current employees, as well as attract new talent. So having the right hybrid working guidelines is key, but who is going to be in charge of this?

Who should manage hybrid?

For many organisations, the immediate reaction has been that hybrid falls under HR’s responsibility. However, as this is such a huge decision that impacts every employee and can have proven ramifications on an organisation’s talent pool, is this solely the responsibility of HR?

Putting this at the door of HR could cause some hostility towards HR from any employees who are unhappy with these decisions. HR is supposed to be an ally for all employees, someone to turn to with issues or queries, and creating hostility or mistrust towards HR teams could be very damaging.

Another option might be to let managers decide what form of hybrid working is best for their team. Whilst this might have some merit, it could also cause problems for managers, and between different teams. If one manager decided their team can work remotely four days a week, where another wants staff in the office three days a week, this could be deemed unfair and breed resentment between teams. It’s therefore important that clear boundaries are set so people feel they are being treated equally.

Decisions around hybrid working could have a huge impact on your business, so they should come from as high up in the business as possible. Board members should be making these decisions and laying them out to employees in a clear way. Coming from a place of strong authority should reduce the push back from employees, by showing that all board members are fully behind these decisions.

Benefits of board level buy-in

In setting clear boundaries and being open with staff as to why these decisions have been made, businesses create an environment where decisions are more likely to be accepted. Having the same boundaries for everyone will eliminate the issue of unfair treatment and, while there may still be differences in teams due to differing roles and responsibilities, the reason for the split should be clear.

For example, your guidelines might state that employees need to be in an office when performing certain tasks, such as group meetings, or that all teams must have a least one day in the office together, but can choose where to work for the other days.

By setting out a bad or unfair hybrid model that makes many of your staff unhappy, you are likely to lose some of your talent to other organisations with better, more flexible hybrid working rules. If you implement a good hybrid model not only are you more likely to keep talent in your organisation, you will also be likely to attract others who are leaving competitors’ businesses.

It used to be that people needed a good reason to work from home, now they need a good reason to come into the office. Many of your employees will know that they are capable of working from home with no drop in their productivity, and will understand their value.

In order to be sure these guidelines / boundaries aren’t arbitrary, decision makers should decide what they want to achieve from their hybrid working model, and work from there. Base your plans on what will work best for the company to succeed and for employees to be happy. Once made, these boundaries should be clearly communicated with all staff, with an explanation of why they are being put in place.

Nick Gallimore, Director of Innovation at Advanced