Building a Hybrid Workplace That Works

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 21/03/2022
hybrid workplace

Many business owners are looking forward to bringing their teams back into the office after months of unexpected remote working. But we are writing this extensive article to stop you from rushing your team onto the premises. A hybrid workplace is a much better approach - and we are here to help you transition into it easily. 




While the hybrid workplace is still a rather new approach that emerged out of necessity imposed by in-person working restrictions, it proved to be highly effective. According to the Accenture report, 63% of high-revenue growth companies have adopted and maintained the hybrid office model even after being given permission to go back to their premises. This is also tied to the fact that the majority of the current workforce consists of tech-savvy millennials, and is currently being entered by the Gen-Z.

To offer you a contrast, let’s remark on the fact that 69% of negative or no-grow companies chose to be tied to just one work model - either in-person or remote. This goes to show that flexibility is a powerful factor in business success. In this article, we will guide you towards adopting and utilising in a way that’s guaranteed to drive long-term benefits.

Reasons to Invest in Building a Hybrid Workplace 

It is now very evident that the hybrid work model is here to stay. Not only has this proven to be effective for many businesses in terms of productivity and as a driver of innovative approaches, but various surveys prove that majority of employees favour it over full-time office attendance too.

For example, a LinkedIn survey has shown that 40% of women and a third of surveyed men with young children would start looking for a new job if told to return to the office. 7% would leave right away. In other words, not adopting the hybrid workplace strategy is likely to hurt your talent retention and future talent attraction. This working model has changed the landscape of employment forever, and the quicker you adapt to it - the better will your business fare moving forward.

Adapting Core Business Processes to Hybrid Working

Let’s start off by stating a simple fact. You won’t be able to successfully transition into a hybrid working model and retain your previous performance and productivity levels unless you optimise the current processes. The way they’d run historically often wouldn’t take into an equation the possibility they would one day be handled remotely. That is the key factor to address.

Reviewing the Onboarding Procedures

Think back on how you used to onboard new hires. The most common procedure includes presenting them with their equipment setup and the two paper copies of a contract on their desk on the first day. From there, they might either be requested to bring in copies of their passports and fill in the form outlining their bank details - or to email both. Since they and the rest of the team will be working on the same premises, they will then be expected to shadow the senior colleagues for some time and ask for guidance when it’s required. As you have guessed, this process simply doesn’t work in a hybrid environment.

The new approach is paperless and therefore calls for a platform to handle most of the bureaucracy operations in a central location instead of going back and forth via emails. Not to mention, long email threads mean risking the loss or accidental deletion of important documents. Additionally, a platform creates an outlet for you to provide the new starter with all information they need upon them joining - and the way of doing it will vary depending on your needs, creativity and platform capacities. To give you a few ideas, we’ve put together a list of some remarkable hybrid onboarding procedures

Automating Financial Operations

Due to living in the digital age you probably have had some finance automation going on prior to moving to remote working. For example, email distribution of payslips. But if you relied on calculating your employee’s wages using paper timesheets, or if your expenses claims procedures depended on the collection of paper receipts - you are in need to find alternatives. We understand that ‘financial operations’ is a broad term that can entail different procedures and can therefore become a source of confusion.

But the beauty of automation is that most solutions are also easily integrated with other tools. This means that optimisation of one or two procedures will feed directly into the automation of others, linking them all together. This also means that instead of running several operations independently and wasting time on manual data transfers, you will be able to build smooth, streamlined workflows. 

Paying Extra Attention to Annual Leave

One major issue that arose from remote and later hybrid working is that many employees would refrain from taking time off. While, understandably, a lot of confusion comes into play when the formerly rest-space also becomes a work-space, your staff still needs to take time off. From a legal standpoint, you, as an employer, are obliged to ensure they receive the minimal holiday entitlement. However, overworking can also lead to burnouts that will reflect negatively on performance and may even lead to the employee quitting.

While it’s easy to track who is in and who’s on holiday when the entire team is present at the workplace, it’s trickier to have such visibility in the hybrid office. The solution would be the adoption of a holiday management system. It would grant the team access to seeing who’s off, therefore allowing them to plan their time accordingly too. Additionally, this would also be an easy way to either request or approve/reject holiday requests - all done in a few clicks as opposed to relying on email chains.

Optimising Team Communication

Since your team will be fragmented in regards to who is working from the office and who is working remotely, communication is going to be one of the key obstacles. For the hybrid to truly work, you need to find a way to keep the communication flowing as smoothly as it has when you were within earshot even if you’re separated by miles.

Choosing the Right Channels

One of Timesheet Portal’s own employees has shared a story that their previous company downright refused to adopt an internal instant messenger even after the initial few months of the pandemic. The communication would carry on relying on emails, phone and zoom calls, soon leading to the said employee handing their notice in. According to them, they felt that not only were they siloed from other teams, but in the event of urgently needing something they were facing delays. Additionally, they were not keen on being strung into 3 hours long meetings where their required contribution was minimal and most of the topics discussed - were irrelevant. All in all, they felt like inefficient communication put a massive strain on their professional growth and chose to leave the company.

This goes to show the importance of choosing the communication channels wisely. Not only does this directly affect the performance of the team as a whole, but can also lead to individual staff time being wasted and therefore become the cause of frustration. In a company with many moving parts, it’s crucial to establish a direct and smooth communication line between different departments. However, this doesn’t mean that the business IM is the best solution for your business - depending on your unique company needs, your team might indeed communicate and move efficiently via phone. There is no one-for-all approach when it comes to company communication channels. It will ultimately depend on both office culture, business specifics and goals you’re aiming to achieve. 

Adopting Collaboration Tools

Unfortunately, communication is only one side of the coin. Your staff may have an outlet to discuss things, but if they don’t have a platform to work on them that will lead to a similar issue as discussed above. For example, it might be agreed that a particular task needs to be done, with two departments involved. They each do their parts independently, potentially occasionally communicating the progress with overall not having visibility of the progress. Upon completion, it becomes known that both departments have executed a few parts of the tasks that the other one has, indicating one has wasted their time. And if the said parts have brought different results per each party, even more time will be spent on trying to figure out which one is correct.

To avoid this, it’s mandatory for a hybrid workplace to have a centralised collaboration platform that is both easily accessible and supports the simultaneous contribution of multiple users in real-time. This is another frustration our employees had with their former company - dependence on Excel spreadsheets. Sometimes the last person to edit them would leave them open, this way locking everyone out of editing the said spreadsheet. This has led to several instances of the documents being duplicated and difficulties in identifying which copy was the correct file, as well as occasional data overwrites. Cloud-based collaboration tools are designed to address these very issues and are therefore a much better solution for the hybrid environment than Excel spreadsheets are. 

Considering Flexitime

Everyone has their peak hours. And while the standard workday is 9 AM to 5 PM, a Hubstaff study has discovered that most employees are showing the highest productivity levels between 6 AM to 9 AM. Curiously, according to the same study, it is seen to drop by 45% between 12 PM and 3 PM when working in the office. Remotely, it drops by 43% between 3 PM to 6 PM. The conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the traditional nine-to-five has never been truly effective. These stats alone show that the environment in which the employees work (office or home) can influence when and by how much their productivity decreases. And then we need to remember that every person has their individual high-performance time frames.

While flexitime is not possible for every business, it can be a very good strategic move for some. Of course, you would be expected to set some boundaries. For example, staff could choose to start their workday at 7 AM or 9 AM - and depending on that they would finish work at either 3 PM or 5 PM. While all your team would still be accessible throughout the majority of the day and work the same number of hours, you would grant them an opportunity to adjust their peak hours to tasks on hand for improved productivity. 

Listen to Your Team

The best way to build a truly efficient and blossoming hybrid workplace is to pay attention to what is your team saying. While you can request direct feedback, the most important things are going to be said in the passing - or not said at all but reflected in performance. Try and gauge whether they’re happy with the existing arrangements, how they adapt to changes and what isn’t quite up to their liking. Every team is different, and every employee is their own preference - the hybrid work model is actually perfect for addressing them individually.

All decisions in regards to software, communication and processes should be made with the well-being of your team in mind. Don’t pursue hybrid workplace trends just because they are said to drive efficiency for others but rather refer to the needs, wants and concerns communicated by your staff. After all, the workplace environment is built to nourish them to be successful; and they will in turn bring success to your business.

Key Takeaway 

It has been proven that businesses that are tied to either in-person or remote working are growing slower (if at all) than those who offer their staff flexibility. Hybrid workplaces revealed that allowing your team members to adjust their schedules and location preferences to their workload and deadlines breeds better productivity and results. And therefore we firmly believe that companies that adapt to the hybrid model now are those who will be successful in the future.

However, we also understand that turning your business fully hybrid is easier said than done. The full, performance-driving switch won’t happen overnight as the optimisation of processes is not something you can rush. But temporary discomfort and delays should be seen as an investment in the future. Building a hybrid workplace is a long game, but we promise you will come out of it a winner.

Fancy getting a headstart? Give us a shout

Free trial

See for yourself how you can save time and money. Enter your details below for a free 30 day no-obligation trial.
Cyber Essentials logo Cyber Essentials Plus logo

Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.