hybrid work policy

A lot of companies acknowledge that they need a hybrid work policy but aren’t sure how to go about creating one. I found a pretty decent guide on Open Sourced Workplace. In reading it, I thought some of their points need a little examining.

Below are their 8 things to consider when creating a Hybrid-Office policy and guideline. Some of them need a little explanation. The listed items are theirs, the comments are mine.

1. Create a hybrid work policy with a remote-first mindset.

One of the biggest challenges in creating a hybrid team is that it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “It’s just like the office, but some people are remote.” The problem with that approach is that it often leads to defaulting policies and tasks to those who are in the office first. It (unintentionally, we hope) can lead to excluding those who are remote or not in the office as often as others. By taking the remote people into account from the beginning, you can avoid some of the problems of legacy policies and proximity bias.

2. Create a hybrid work position within the organization that reports to senior leadership.

One of the challenges for organizations as they shift to a new way of working is nobody owns the process. HR looks after their department, operations creates metrics, and so on. If you really want to change the culture of your organization, and make hybrid work integral to the way you operate and not just a compromise, someone with Senior Leadership’s ear needs to have the responsibility.

3. Define hybrid work roles that fit your organization.

A truly frustrating part for those looking for examples to follow is that every organization, department, and team have similarities but also unique personnel and cultures that defy one-size-fits-all solutions. You and your team have to do the work. If you’d like help with that, check out our new book The Long-Distance Team: Designing your team for everyone’s success.

4. Create a hybrid working etiquette handbook.

I get what they’re saying here, but before you roll your eyes and say, “Ugh,” think about its purpose, not its name.  Handbooks bring to mind binders of stuff that nobody ever reads (like the picture above). Etiquette sounds quaint and limiting. What every team needs is a charter of agreements. What is the work to be done? How will you communicate with each other? How should you operate and work together to accomplish the work and create the workplace you really want? Whatever format you come up with, it should online (and available to everyone) and most importantly, a living, evolving document: a guideline and road map, not a Bible. (More on this in a minute)

5. Create a communication and training plan for the organization.

Just telling everyone what to do is no guarantee they can or will do it. Every plan needs a communication, training, and measurement component.

6. Provide hybrid training to all levels in the organization.

This does not just include how you’ll work in a hybrid environment, but training delivered in multiple ways. What good is training people to cross time zones and distance if all the training is done in the office? How will you help foster collaboration and socialization on your team if people are stuck doing solo e-learning in front of a screen?

7. Identify and measure critical success factors. 

This seems obvious, but too many teams are just taking the old, pre-COVID, default-to-the-office policies and jerry-rigging them. As you design your new team, re-examine the metrics that will define success.

8. Prepare for iteration.

Hang around here long enough, and you’ll hear us harping on “pilot before policy.”  What that means is that every organization we know has been surprised by what return to the office and working in new ways actually works. Creating hard and fast rules or policies can often lead to dissatisfaction or compliance versus buy-in. Work as a team to come up with your best guesses, try things out, and be prepared to measure, assess, and change what isn’t working as well as you’d hoped. Nobody should expect to get their policies right the first time. If the last two or three years has taught us anything, it’s that what you plan and the way the world chooses to operate are rarely the same.

If we want hybrid work to truly be something new, and not just the same old thing with different butts in different seats, organizations leaders and teams need to think in new ways.

If we can help, let us know. What do you think? Whether you agree or disagree, let us know.


Wayne Turmel--The Remote Leadership Institute

Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.

Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammateoffers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.

The latest book from Wayne and Kevin shows leaders how to design a team culture that has a one-team mindset and gets great results under hybrid-work conditions. You can pre-order The Long-Distance Team: Designing Your Team for Everyone’s Success now.

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Wayne Turmel has been writing about how to develop communication and leadership skills for almost 26 years. He has taught and consulted at Fortune 500 companies and startups around the world. For the last 18 years, he’s focused on the growing need to communicate effectively in remote and virtual environments.

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