There’s No Hybrid Without HR: The People Manager’s Tool Kit for a Great Hybrid Workplace

  • Author Helen Attia, VP Sales & Relationships

You’ve always been the go-between. You’ve been managing employees’ needs and the management’s expectations for as long as you can remember, but now it’s like never before.

Despite the success of remote work, many organizations are still struggling with the idea of remote and hybrid working as a permanent solution. Output versus hours worked as a short-term solution but is harder for managers to accept as the new business reality.

Can remote employees be trusted to continuously deliver in the long term? Seeing their team in the office just feels like a much safer and easier way of managing performance. Meanwhile, employees expect workplace policies that reflect the people-first rhetoric of the pandemic.

And you’re in the midst of it all, charged with the herculean task of shaping a workplace policy that takes care of the people without sacrificing business outcomes – has anyone asked you what you need and prefer?

‘The demands placed on our profession since the pandemic began have never been greater.” Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD

 

HR is no longer a business function overseeing, analyzing, and optimizing human resource management, structure, and policies. While none of these responsibilities have disappeared, the focus has shifted to the “people” side of it all – company culture, workplace experience, mental health, coaching, inclusion and diversity, learning and development, building the right teams, as well as managing performance.

You’re helping your company become more agile and crisis-proof while promoting job satisfaction in a hybrid workplace and managing the diverse needs, expectations, and, yes, emotions. You need to come up with an inclusive company culture that

  1. motivates employee engagement and collaboration;
  2. provides equal career opportunities regardless of work location;
  3. maintains visibility of employees’ work patterns – when and where they’re the most productive, what they come to the office for, and whether that’s as often as planned.

You want to build a company that’s truly people-first. You want to create a workplace that’s a destination, not an obligation – here are our answers to your most burning questions about making it a reality.

How will people communicate and collaborate effectively if they don’t know who’ll be in and when?

Static, standardized offices and predictable working hours should stay in the past. The future belongs to dynamic, flexible workplaces and people policies.

Employees have gotten used to the freedom of choosing where and when they work and they’re not about to give it up. Hybrid working is one of their top priorities with flexible working hours considered crucial by 42% of US and UK workers

That doesn’t mean the office is out of the equation. Our research shows that over half (54%) of US and UK workers expect to visit the office between two and three days a week. 60% of US and UK workers believe being in the office will facilitate collaboration with colleagues. Spontaneous office interactions are an essential part of it too as they make employees happier, more creative, and motivated. So how do you make collaboration work in a hybrid work setting? 

Using spreadsheets to log desk and room bookings and employees’ movements in and out of the office is much too time-consuming for a long-term solution. Desk booking software with HR integrations will save you some time. But the biggest impact will come through something else – enabling team and individual cadences – here’s why.

Say you’d like to be in the office three days a week early in the morning because you know that’s when you’re the most productive. You use a desk booking app to reserve your favorite seat and set up a recurring booking – with this single move:

Welcome peace of mind.

Every once in a while, you also want to spend an afternoon in the office to meet your manager, mingle with colleagues, and hear the latest gossip. You check the desk booking app again to see your colleagues’ cadences – who’s in, when, and where they like to sit. You book a workspace nearby at the time they’re there.

You might even combine it with the team cadence your manager has set up by booking a room for team meetings every other Tuesday. The rest of the time – it’s yours. Your personal and family life doesn’t depend on your working hours. You can choose to work on Monday evenings, Friday mornings, or even Sunday afternoons. As long as you deliver, enable cadences and productivity at your company will soar.

For all of this to work, two more things need to be true:

  1. The office is worth going to.
  2. You have a desk and room booking software that employees actually want to use.

How do I motivate people to come to the office?

Building a successful hybrid workplace requires an understanding of what employees value most about it. It’s not all bottomless coffee, comfy seating, and on-site gyms. Offices are increasingly being judged by their capacity to nurture collaboration, problem-solving, and deep work.

For many, going back to the office is equivalent to going out to meet with friends. Over half of workers also anticipate better productivity in the office when they return, demonstrating the importance of silent zones for focused work as well as collaboration and social hubs.

The office needs to become a destination worth returning to. To deliver that, the company needs to:

How do I put an end to the endless employee surveys?

“We’re building out a hybrid work policy now,” a client told us.

One of her first steps was to determine if there should be a company-wide requirement of office days and how that might differ by the team, if at all. She was turning to every team lead individually to enquire about their work process, how often their team needed to meet face-to-face, and how much freedom the manager would be comfortable giving his people when it came to choosing their working hours and location.

Besides being a time-consuming process, it was also an incredibly frustrating one. She had done multiple employee surveys which kept producing different results. It felt impossible to pin down anything for a solid hybrid workplace policy. Employee surveys are a great start. When done right, they can help you 

But employee surveys aren’t enough. It might take time for your people to ascertain what works best for them. They might prefer to come to the office but not find the right people and amenities there – and decide it’s easier to stay home.

A faster way to get the insights you need is adding robust, reliable data to the mix. With a desk and room booking software like Kadence you get data that helps you

How do I motivate people to use the chosen desk booking app?

You want to build a flexible work culture that empowers employees to build their productivity cadences but you can’t pretend not to need certain visibility into who’s working from where and how often the office is used.

The last thing you want is to make your employees feel like they’re being monitored but you need to keep tabs on the “no check-in offenders”, avoid double-bookings and the resulting chaos. This means you need a workplace app that adds value to your employees’ workday while delivering the insights you need.

It all starts with driving user adoption. Look for software that:

Regulations, policies, market conditions, even employee needs may change but one thing is certain – sustainable long-term growth is only possible when people are genuinely thriving in the workplace. Use data to understand your people’s needs and optimize the workplace to nurture culture and employee wellbeing. With technology that’s built on people-first principles, you’ll create a workplace your people are truly proud of.

Wondering what it looks like in practice? We’d love to show you – book a demo here.

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