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Strategies for Building a Successful Hybrid Workplace

Close up low angle view of a man working from home on a laptop computer sitting at a desk surfing the internet-1

In 2024, most employees expect their employers to offer a hybrid or work-from-home option — and many even demand it. According to a Gallup poll from 2023, three in 10 hybrid workers are “extremely likely” to leave an organization if their remote work options were taken away. Fortunately, hybrid work environments tend to benefit employers just as much as they benefit workers.

How Employees Benefit from Hybrid Work

Letting your employees work from home is a simple, no-cost way to give them more time to spend on personal tasks, and you can do so without having to reduce their working hours. In lieu of commuting to the office, your workers can spend that time on anything they find beneficial — getting their kids to school, doing laundry, catching up with friends, exercising, sleeping, etc. This will help them focus on the task at hand when the workday finally begins.

Having the option to work from home also lets your employees work in the environment they find most effective. Those who prefer a quieter workspace can work from home, and those who thrive on in-person interactions can work from the office. This flexibility is even more beneficial when it is coupled with your employees’ ability to flex their hours. If your employees can choose when they work, they will naturally choose the times of the day they feel most productive. This will not only help them feel happier and less burned out, but they will also become more efficient, and your business will reap the benefits.

Unlocking the Benefits of Hybrid Work for Employers

When your employees can choose how, when, and where they work, they often become more productive. Tailoring their schedules and environments that play to their strengths lets them show up to work fully engaged and ready to get tasks done.

But increased employee productivity isn’t the only benefit to employers.

Access to global talent pool

By offering remote work options, you automatically expand your search radius. If someone is a great fit for the job, you can hire them even if they live in a different state or country.

Increased safety

When it’s unsafe for the employees to get to the office, remote work is a lifesaver. If an employee has a cold but feels otherwise well enough to work, they can work from home until their symptoms improve. Or if the weather makes it difficult for employees to get to work safely, they can work from home until the bad weather passes.

Lower real estate costs

If you aren’t locked in to a multi-year lease, switching to a hybrid working model could save you rental fees. Downsizing will require you to learn how to share offices spaces, but it may be a good way to reduce overhead costs.

Strategies To Have a Strong Hybrid Work Environment

To foster a positive work culture when some employees are present and some are working remotely, all team members need to feel supported and seen. Enhancing communication is key. To improve communication, you may need to:

  • Build multiple communication channels
    For example, you may find that email works best for company-wide announcements, a project management software works best for team collaboration, and an app with instant messaging capabilities works for quick questions between colleagues.
  • Improve video conferencing
    If at-home workers’ equipment (lighting, microphones, video options, desk, etc.) is lacking, upgrade their equipment.
  • Set expectations
    If you give remote workers flexibility, be sure they can effectively communicate their working hours to their in-office colleagues.
  • Train your employees
    Train your workers on how to collaborate when some members of the team are working remotely.
  • Organize virtual team building exercises
    Find a way for virtual team members to get to know their in-office counterparts – and vice versa.
  • Ask for feedback
    When it comes to communication, ask your employees what’s working and what’s not. Be open to new or unique solutions.

A few other key strategies for optimizing your hybrid working environment are to:

Be aware of potential security risks

Permitting remote access to your networks will increase security risk. Ensure your IT infrastructure can handle the load of a remote workforce, and train your employees how to protect sensitive information.

Mental health concerns for remote workers

Fully remote workers are statistically more likely to experience feelings of isolation and loneliness. Not only can this negatively affect their mental and physical health, but unhappy workers can negatively impact your business through loss of productivity.

Stay on top of compliance requirements

Employing workers in more than one state may be an administrative burden. You’ll need to think about:

  • Taxes
    Employing workers outside of your operating state may generate nexus, requiring you to file business tax returns in those other states. 
  • Employment laws
    Each state’s labor laws vary. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with those states’ laws surrounding minimum wage, overtime, and workers’ rights.
  • Jurisdiction-specific administrative tasks
    It can be onerous to have employees in multiple different states because you may need to:
    • Register your business with those states.
    • Establish payroll tax accounts in those states.
    • File payroll tax returns.
    • Withhold income taxes for employees.

Some states have reciprocal agreements with neighboring states that help you minimize payroll tax filing responsibilities when you have an out-of-state worker, but not all states do. You’ll need to be familiar with reciprocal agreements that do exist and be ready to change course if new laws emerge.

Embrace collaboration tools

If you have some employees working remotely, you’ll need to embrace technology that can facilitate that new dynamic. For example, Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Zoom can help improve team collaboration; shared calendars can help you know when and from where everyone is working on a given day; employee management software can track employee satisfaction and identify when employees are unhappy with their work situation; etc.

Adopting new technology isn’t the only way to improve collaboration. For example, establishing a mentorship program — either in person or virtual — can help employees feel seen and supported. Requiring an in-person all-hands meeting can also be a great way to improve team morale, even if it’s a bit costly to bring everyone into the office.

Use hybrid work as a strategic attraction and retention tool

Hybrid work options were a near necessity during the first few months and years of the pandemic. But today, they can be seen as a perk to attract new talent. If you intentionally create a hybrid working model that works for your business and your employees, you’ll attract good talent, and your workers will be happier and more productive.

George Penn, VP at Gartner, said it best. “Success in a hybrid work environment requires employers to move beyond viewing remote or hybrid environments as a temporary or short-term strategy and to treat it as an opportunity.”

If you want to discuss strategies for building a successful hybrid workplace with our team, reach out to us today. Carol Hargenrader, Meaden & Moore's Director of Human Resources, would be happy to assist.

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