With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the so-called "hybrid" work formula, which combines telecommuting and office work, has been brought to the forefront. Dealing with workers' demands to limit travel while maintaining a professional activity has become a major issue for HR. However, this way of working can appear as new for some companies that would be prepared to this kind of transition, so it can be complicated for HR and managers to cope with it.
In this article, we will explain in detail what hybrid work is and how to deal with it in the most coherent and functional way possible. More specifically, we will see how to adapt your organizational structure to the permanent changes, which tools to adopt to carry out your teamwork.
What is hybrid work?
According to C. Bourbeau and M. Pelletier (members of the HR Advisory Services team of the Conseil du patronat du Québec), hybrid work is "a form of work organization in which the employee divides his or her time between the office and the home (or any other location)". This so-called "mixed" formula is a combination of flexible practices that allow for activity and interaction at the office on the one hand, and the ability to telework when necessary on the other. Thus, some companies may allow 2 to 3 days of telework per week, others limit themselves to 1 day per week to keep this flexibility.
In November 2021 in France, ANACT (the National Agency for the Improvement of Working Conditions) published a report entitled "Installing telework in the long term? Analysis of telework agreements and recommendations for action". The report highlights, for example, that administrative and support service activities and manufacturing industries are the most represented spheres in the establishment of telework agreements in 2020. The report highlights a variable geometry distribution of agreements, where organizations and their managers implement hybrid practices unevenly.
What balance in hybrid work?
Hybrid work is not just a temporary state, since certain types of activities require a flexible work method that can adapt to changes while preserving work continuity. In this context, it is important to find your rhythm and identify the variables that can be remotely monitored and those that require the physical presence of your employees. Studies in France show for example that 66% of French employees prefer hybrid work, but only 48% of them actually choose this option. So, how do you implement the right practices within your team to aim for the best possible combination given your needs and constraints?
1. identify the variables of your teleworkable activities
Some types of work activities have not been able to adopt the hybrid option and have definitely lost interest. It is therefore essential to think about the structure and the exact proportion of work that can be done at home and that which requires your employees to be in the office at certain times. You must therefore look at all the tasks that your company performs, analyzing and identifying those that can be worked on online. Based on the different types of work, you can then allocate a task to an employee who can do it from home. Establish a schedule, distribute tasks and keep the schedule flexible to allow you and your employees to work in an optimal way. Indeed, the pandemic experience has shown that employees who are not forced to spend hours in traffic or sleep little are happy employees at work.
2. be able to provide the right equipment to your team
The pandemic has shown the inequalities in working conditions: the lack of a computer, computer equipment or simply an efficient internet connection...
Make sure that everything works and that the equipment provided allows you and your colleagues to work together despite the distance and constraints. Don't wait to invest in quality computer equipment because it is your work tool.
3. create a relationship of trust and quality
In this type of hybrid work arrangement, the quality of the relationship becomes paramount. Indeed, as HR and/or manager, it is essential to accompany your team by giving them the necessary resources and useful information to evolve in this hybrid workspace. The changes may be difficult to accept for some colleagues who may not be familiar enough with IT tools and need extra time to learn the codes and acquire new skills. Be a support and a listening ear for your employees who may need you to help them get used to the new practices and technologies. Aim for and build new, more responsible and sustainable management practices.
4. build an adequate working environment
How to arrange or rather (re)arrange your spaces for more comfort and optimization?
For F. Broucaret, journalist and founder of My Happy Job, the renaissance of the office requires the invention of a diversity of spaces, adaptable to several activities at the same time: "Employees no longer want a single large meeting room that must be reserved in advance, they want to have a room to make calls, several small rooms to brainstorm in small groups, a larger meeting room for the entire team and a room where they can meet.
In short, aim for more comfort and flexibility in your office, invest in good quality equipment and take care of your employees.
5. identify and act upstream to prevent RPS
As the crisis has illustrated, the mental health of your employees is a major issue in this type of work environment, which combines isolation and collaboration. In these moments of uncertainty and instability, mental and psychological support is an essential factor in maintaining a good work dynamic.
Put in place psychological support solutions for your employees, opt for formulas and applications offering preventive measures. The HR and the manager become essential figures in the identification of mental health difficulties at work, and must act on the front line.
Some of your employees may seem to be closed and isolate themselves to hide their difficulties. Indeed, confidentiality issues and exchanges with third parties can be a difficult task for some, so it is all the more important to pay attention and keep an eye on the state and well-being of everyone.
The pandemic has led to new practices and new ways of working. The consequences of the pandemic show us the importance of adopting flexible work rules and conditions that allow everyone to find their well-being in the office. Be creative, combine professionalism, productivity and comfort to improve your activity and that of your employees. Hybrid work seems to be an innovative solution, don't be afraid to adapt to change!
You can also consult our previous articles on mental health to learn about the best practices and tools to adopt to help and support your team of employees.