Is your business considering a hybrid remote working model? If so, you're in good company.
As organizations prepare for the future of work in a post-pandemic world, many are shifting toward permanent remote policies.
It's an exciting time. But also a critical one.
As HR teams make the transition from temporary work-from-home setups to managing a distributed workforce indefinitely, there are some important pitfalls to watch for.
Here at Formstack, we’ve been using a hybrid remote working model for nearly 10 years. And while we've found that letting people work from where they're most productive leads to better outcomes, there have been a lot of lessons learned along the way.
Now that remote and hybrid-remote work are being embraced on a large scale, we wanted to share a few key insights.
Learn from 'Stackers who have an average of 13 years working remotely! Read the article Tips for Remote Working: Formstack Employees Weigh In to get their best advice.
What does it mean to have a hybrid remote working model?
The term “hybrid remote” means different things to different companies, but overall the approach involves some mix of on-site and remote work. That might mean some people work from home while others report to the office. Or it could be the basis for a flexible work policy, where employees spend some days in-person and others remote.
When Microsoft announced its new hybrid work plan, for instance, the company's Chief
People Officer described it as a way to “offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles while balancing business needs.” At GM, the model is built around a basic “work appropriately” policy that allows employees to change where they work as needed. From Ford Motor to Dropbox and many more in between, companies everywhere are creating their own versions of hybrid remote work.
However you choose to look at it, one thing is certain: Hybrid remote work is here to stay.
Surveys show that 20% of full workdays will be from home post-pandemic—up from just 5% before 2020. One in five employers have already implemented hybrid work, and 86% plan to continue building out work-from-home arrangements.
In the midst of all these changes, HR teams are learning what it means to successfully manage a distributed workforce.
What are the benefits of hybrid remote management?
Some of the biggest HR advantages we’ve seen play out here at Formstack include:
Faster Talent Acquisition
When you aren’t working with location limitations, your team can be free to focus on finding the best person for each and every job—regardless of where they live. Remote work options make you much more attractive to top candidates, too: According to a recent survey, 96% of job seekers want options for full-time remote or hybrid remote work—and nearly a third are willing to take a 10-20% pay cut to work from home as much as possible.
Did you know? Formstack has employees in 112 countries! Learn more about our remote-first culture here.
Studies have long shown that performance can increase 13% when employees work from home, and that remote workers are 35-40% more productive than their in-office counterparts. And with the recent surge in work-from-home setups, we've seen how decreased commute times alone can boost productivity 5%.
Better Health and Wellness
In a recent survey from Mental Health America and FlexJobs, 48% of people with flexible work options say their work-life balance is excellent or very good. Eight in 10 say work flexibility decreases stress, and 67% say it increases the time they spend exercising.
To be fair, remote management isn’t all blue skies ahead. Even with the many benefits of hybrid work, there are some definite challenges, too.
What are the challenges of remote work management?
Technology has changed a lot since Formstack’s teams started collaborating remotely. Ten years ago, we had to work hard just to find the right mix of solutions. Google Docs didn't exist, Slack hadn't yet been invented, and projects were still largely managed with spreadsheets and email chains.
Today, there are so many remote work apps the opposite is true: It can be easy to get overwhelmed.
As a people manager, it’s your job to help employees find the most productive arrangements. Depending on how new you are to the world of remote and hybrid work, that can be a big responsibility.
Our advice? Prepare now for most pressing challenges—and eventually, the path to successful hybrid work will become clear. Two of the most important areas include:
Communicating via video conferencing is a lot different than discussing projects in-person. And while collaboration platforms and project management apps can definitely help streamline activities, too many pings and alerts can prohibit—instead of improve—productivity.
To help ensure in-person and remote communication stays constructive, you may want to consider developing your own training to help people learn best practices for working with tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack.
Related: Remote Communication Deep Dive: Cultivating a Successful Distributed Workforce
Employee enrollments, training, evaluations, reviews...the list of processes HR oversees is a long one. Those responsibilities are challenging enough when done in-person, and the demands can be compounded when you’re transitioning to conducting them remotely.
This is one area where having the right technology in place can be a huge help. Employee onboarding, review cycles, engagement surveys, and more can all be automated. You can even collect valid signatures right from employee devices, and have many mission-critical forms generated without any manual intervention.
Bottom line: The more processes you can put on autopilot, and the more you can prepare employees, the better positioned your company will be to make the most of remote or hybrid remote opportunities.
As you continue down the road of hybrid remote management, there will be plenty more to think about: Keeping teams engaged, leveling the playing field between in-office and at-home employees, making sure remote workers aren’t left out or left behind...and the list goes on. By taking it one step at a time, you’ll be able to build a work-from-anywhere plan that works well for everyone.
Looking for more remote work best practices? Be sure to check out our 30-minute podcast: Future of Work: Remote Work Truths and Misconceptions.