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6 Hybrid Work Model Examples from Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and more

The modern workplace has changed dramatically — and the role of the office is shifting, pushed by the unseen growth of remote and hybrid work. Just a few years ago, the massive adoption of hybrid work was unthinkable. But the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns sped up processes that were already in motion — and in the blink of an eye, made possible what seemed impossible.

In no time, companies of all sizes embraced remote collaboration to keep their operations going through the hardest times in 2020. While only 31% of employees in the U.S. worked remotely in March 2020, a month later the percentage rose to 70.

The post-lockdown return to the office brought a new challenge for businesses worldwide, though: how to combine the health, space efficiency, and productivity benefits of remote work with the social advantages of in-person attendance in the office.

The natural answer is hybrid work, but that entails a whole new set of team collaboration and management practices. The way we work is changing, as should be our methods of handling it.

This guide will take you through the essential aspects of hybrid collaboration and the best practices that you can apply to make your hybrid work strategy a success.

What is Hybrid Workforce Collaboration?

Hybrid workforce collaboration is the process of people working efficiently together while some of them are in the office, and others are working remotely. Rather than sticking only to in-office or remote work, the hybrid model offers modern companies the best of both worlds in one single approach.

The 4 Modes of Hybrid Workforce Collaboration

Within the newly growing world of the hybrid environment, there are different options for team members to work — alone or together, at the same time or during different parts of the workday.

On that basis, Gartner created a simple chart with four modes of intentional collaboration in a hybrid world:

  • Working together from the same place (colocated and synchronous): teams are in one location and participate physically in common meetings.
  • Working together from different places (distributed and synchronous): team members work remotely and participate virtually in common meetings.
  • Working alone from the same place (colocated and asynchronous): team members work individually towards the common goals, but share the same office space.
  • Working alone from different places (distributed and asynchronous): team members work individually towards the common goals from their distributed locations.

The purpose of each mode is different and brings various benefits for individual team members and for their common goals. For example, it’s important to have time together in the same room to enjoy the advantages of face-to-face communication. At the same time, leaving space and flexibility for individual team members to engage in deep work — which for many means remote work — is also crucial.

While there’s been a clear preference for synchronous work previously, Gartner’s research shows that both synchronous and asynchronous work is necessary for innovation and creativity. That’s why the art of skillfully combining the four modes is at the heart of successful hybrid collaboration.

In short, making hybrid collaboration work requires doing some homework first: the on-site collaboration and fully remote modes’ principles need to be tweaked to the realities of how the hybrid model operates.

How to Make Hybrid Collaboration Work: 11 Best Practices

Here are our top tips for creating the right conditions for hybrid teams in your company.

#1. Plan for Success

As with any new endeavor, setting the stage for a successful application of the hybrid model entails good planning and an optimistic outlook. Rather than thinking about the different limitations and stereotypes related to on-site and remote collaboration, it’s useful to imagine the best possible scenarios.

For example, instead of reiterating the known downsides of hybrid work, like ‘Zoom fatigue,’ it’s more meaningful to outline the positives and focus on how your organization can benefit from them, such as:

  • Health and safety in the context of the pandemic;
  • Result- and productivity-driven workplace;
  • Flexibility and more freedom for employees;
  • More efficient space usage.

#2. Understand the Challenges from the Start

While maintaining a positive approach toward the hybrid collaboration process, it’s also essential to be aware of the challenges it entails. It’s not about hiding from the difficulties, but about making targeted efforts to counteract the potential pitfalls from the very beginning.

In the ‘Zoom fatigue’ example from the previous point, it doesn’t make sense to pretend that employees don’t get tired from constant virtual communication. They do.

Instead, you need to acknowledge the troubling phenomena and have a strategy on how to avoid burnout caused by unnecessary video calls. In the case of virtual meeting overload, some solutions can include:

  • Reduce the overall number of meetings to lower stress and fatigue for team members;
  • Оrganizing regular in-person meetings;
  • Make practical improvements to online calls, like always having a clear topic to discuss beforehand and ending the meeting with action items;
  • Introduce fun aspects to the meetings.

#3. Master the Art of Hybrid Meetings

This might be one of the toughest nuts to crack in the context of hybrid collaboration — but organizing effective and non-draining meetings is at the heart of making hybrid work for your team.

Meetings are the most common form of synchronous work, and their importance is unquestionable. However, in the context of remote and hybrid environments, online meetings can turn into time monsters. That’s why it’s essential that you clearly define and limit the situations which require this form of collaboration.

For meetings that are deemed truly necessary, it’s important to create equal access for all employees — those who will attend in-person in the shared office space and remotely. For example, setting visual reminders to include remote team members in the conversation is a good idea. It may also be useful to assign ‘office buddies’ for each person who’s going to tune in online — so they don’t get forgotten, say, in a heated debate.

Again, it’s also a good idea to communicate clearly what the meeting is about beforehand (e.g., a regular check-up or a brainstorming session) and end it with action items. This transforms meetings from tedious, time-wasting chores into useful and actionable tasks.

#4. Create an Inclusive Environment for Both On-Site and Remote Employees

To make hybrid collaboration truly work, it’s vital to foster an atmosphere that doesn’t favor on-site over remote work. This has often been the case in organizations around the globe, making remote work less acceptable for the whole team, which, in a way, can make the hybrid approach meaningless.

To truly embrace the hybrid model and foster collaboration, as a general rule, no working environment should be considered better than the other. Naturally, there can be cases when one option is preferred over the other for a particular project or task. However, management shouldn’t create a feeling that working remotely is a ‘second-best’ option.

It’s important to offer a good level of inclusivity for both on-site and remote employees. Of course, the overall approach should translate into specific actions too, such as ensuring that hybrid meetings are accessible to all and that employees who are in the office or at another location get the same information and opportunities for participation in the workflows.

#5. Adapt Your Decision-Making on Hiring and Staff Management

The new reality of the hybrid workplace inevitably affects how companies should approach their hiring and human resources management. The rules of engagement with employees need to reflect the new necessities of the mixed environments in which projects and tasks get executed.

As the actual location of workers becomes less and less important in the context of hybrid collaboration, you can expand your candidate pool. This shift can be beneficial both for your organization and for potential employees.

You should embed the novel approach in staff management policies too, which should move away from the office-first concept. To achieve an effective hybrid workplace, the day-to-day operations and requirements for employees have to match the dynamic nature of hybrid work.

#6. Draft and Apply a Flexible and Actionable Hybrid Workforce Collaboration Policy

Flexibility is at the heart of the hybrid collaboration model. Work isn’t about the hours spent in a certain place, like the company’s office, but about the level of cooperation between team members and their common output.

But since this is a novel mode of operating, it’s important to put it down in writing for your organization. Put simply, you should have a hybrid collaboration policy that contains how your team works when mixing on-site and remote options. It should spell out the expectations about attendance, reaction times, and all other practical aspects. This could vary by individual or team, depending on your company.

Тhis internal document shouldn’t be anything complicated — quite the opposite. You need a straightforward guidebook accessible to all employees from the first day they get on board your company.

#7. Redefine Your Processes in the Hybrid Context

Besides creating and implementing a well-rounded and clearly written hybrid collaboration policy, your organization will benefit greatly from adapting internal processes to the new working model.

Formalizing the digital processes that your team uses is the first important step. For example, this entails:

  • Defining the steps that employees should take in certain projects and in different scenarios;
  • Setting clear guidelines about what digital tools should be used for what purposes;
  • How the mixture between in-person and online attendees is handled;

Achieving your business goals in the hybrid world starts with this redefinition of how your team works without unnecessary complications and remnants from past processes. This may be difficult to embed at first, but is the only way to move forward in the new workplace. Of course, don’t forget to regularly check in with your team and see if they’re having issues with the revamped way of doing things.

#8. Trust the Right Tech for Your Hybrid Workplace

Technology is the major enabler making hybrid working environments possible. At the same time, it can be difficult for businesses to choose the right software solutions and implement them smoothly across departments.

In fact, technology is what can offer the much-needed consistency in the hybrid model. As the office is no longer the workplace, your headquarters naturally move online — to your digital HQs. These tools should include easy ways to share and store data, to communicate both in real-time (e.g., video conferencing apps and digital whiteboards) and asynchronously, to handle project management and planning, and organize in-person meetings and work, among others. In a sense, all the digital aids become the ‘place’ where both collaboration and individual work occur, and they need to be trustworthy and practical. It’s a good idea also to look for solutions that allow the automation of workflows.

OfficeRnD Hybrid fits the profile perfectly, as it offers employees a seamless way to book their desks before coming to the office. They can also easily check who else is going to be in person on that day, so they can be together — which is one of the main reasons for commuting to the office. Teams that have to work synchronously can easily stick together in grouped sections of the workspace too.

#9. Enable Wide Adoption of New Tools

One of the challenges with new digital tools is their adoption. If they are difficult to adopt, you may end up having a bunch of disconnected platforms that employees barely use.

That’s why your new hybrid solutions have to fit in your current tech stack. This is how your distributed teams can easily start using them and get the most benefit — rather than getting frustrated with difficult tools and incompatible versions. OfficeRnD’s Hybrid integrates with a wide array of other collaboration tools, like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Google Calendar, and Chrome, so desk bookings can be done directly through them.

#10. Empower Your Hybrid Workforce to Create Their Work Schedules

Some of the main perks of the hybrid work environment are the flexibility and freedom that this model provides.

In the new post-pandemic reality after the long months of remote work, this option has become quite desirable for many. While it may be stressful for company leaders to adjust, letting employees set their own remote/on-site schedules may be the best way to move forward.

Giving team members the power to decide whether they’ll be in the office or work remotely doesn’t have to lead to chaos. In fact, it can optimize people’s schedules in relation to their personal preferences and obligations, making them more productive and engaged at work. With good planning of office resources and the necessary in-person, synchronous events, flexible hybrid collaboration can truly blossom.

#11. Don’t Forget to Have Some Fun

Last but not least, work is work — but there should always be space for relaxation and having some fun together (even if don’t have quite as many watercooler talks nowadays), so team members can bond beyond their official obligations. This is at the center of any successful company culture, and it applies to hybrid collaboration, too.

Team buildings are always a good idea — when the pandemic conditions allow for them. Getting employees in one place away from their home office and official office can spur different types of interactions and boost overall creativity and productivity down the line.

You can foster engagement and inclusivity in various other ways too, be it games, challenges, or other social gatherings — and this can be done on a daily or weekly basis. It takes some creativity, and it’s worth involving your whole team in coming up with the right ideas that will work for your organization’s context.

Go Hybrid With OfficeRnD

officernd hybrid productHybrid collaboration offers exciting new opportunities — for productivity, achieving business goals, employee satisfaction, and much more. Company leaders need to make an initial investment in restructuring and reframing the modes of operation, but once that’s done, your team can truly benefit from the numerous perks of hybrid.

OfficeRnD Hybrid can be a trusted partner in the process, helping you handle your hybrid office management by:

  • Allowing you to create a visual floorplan of your office;
  • Let everyone book desks and schedule meeting rooms before coming to the office;
  • Showing who’s in the office and which desks are available in real-time and much more.

In short, OfficeRnD Hybrid can help you make the transition to hybrid work seamless.

You can book a live demo straight away to check out how OfficeRnD Hybrid can help you enable hybrid work and elevate workplace collaboration.

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