How to Make Hybrid Work, Work: A Guide for Leaders

Organizations that are newly adopting the hybrid model are learning as they go. These best practices will help you with building—and maintaining—a happy and productive hybrid workforce.

Managers are still adjusting to leading a hybrid workforce. These best practices will help. Photo by Leon on Unsplash.

Only 17% of U.S. employees worked from home full-time before the pandemic. That number rose sharply—to 44%—in 2020, and there’s no going back to the way things were.

We are entering the era of the hybrid workforce: Of more than 9,000 workers surveyed, 83% said they would prefer to work remotely at least some of the time, and 63% of high-growth companies are already using a hybrid model.

Successful implementation of a hybrid working strategy will be critical for retaining talented workers, but most organizations are learning as they go, with 65% of employers saying they are “moderately” or “somewhat” concerned about hybrid workforce-management issues.

To help you along, we’ve compiled some best practices for building—and maintaining—a happy and productive hybrid workforce.

Adopt the hybrid model for your organization

Nearly half of American workers are considering a job change in 2021. If you want to win (and retain) skilled employees, flexible work options are a must.

Hybrid work doesn’t just benefit employees; it’s also good for business. Here are just a few of the benefits of adopting a hybrid working model:

But it’s going to take some trial and error to get it right. Flexibility, communication, and training are going to be key to making hybrid work for your organization.

Check out these tips for implementing a hybrid working model for your business.

Prepare your team for virtual work

Anticipate and prepare your organization for the logistical and cultural challenges of supporting a hybrid workforce to make sure your teams are able to meet their productivity goals.

Onboarding and training with zero face-to-face interaction are more complicated than they are in person. You need to:

  • Ensure remote workers have access to the equipment and tools they need
  • Provide an engaging onboarding experience that helps new hires maintain their enthusiasm
  • Make it easy for veteran and on-site employees to share know-how with new and remote hires
  • Create personal connections between employees to maintain a strong company culture

If you can accomplish this, you’ll set up your employees for success and reap the benefits of an engaged and high-producing workforce.

Learn how to turn the top 4 challenges of virtual onboarding into strengths for your company.

Make your onboarding engaging for all employees

A good onboarding experience is key to employee retention, according to 93% of employers. For hybrid teams, that means your process needs to be as effective for remote workers as it is for those who are on-site.

Here are a few ways to provide a positive onboarding experience:

  • Start pre-boarding as soon as the new hire signs their offer letter
  • Make the process engaging by scheduling a mix of activities each day
  • Tailor the experience to each individual

Giving new hires the support and tools they need to do their jobs well—wherever they’re located—will help increase the likelihood that they have a long and successful career with your company.

Try some of these online onboarding tips to help your new employees hit the ground running.

Be proactive to reduce employee turnover

Employee turnover costs U.S. companies more than $600 billion each year, and as many as 30% of new hires churn within their first 90 days.

Here are a few tips for creating an onboarding process that keeps new hires engaged and makes them want to stick around for the long haul:

  • Give managers a leading role in the onboarding process
  • Schedule regular check-ins with new hires
  • Set metrics to gauge the effectiveness of your onboarding program

Twenty-two percent of workers say they’d look for another job if they didn’t receive good onboarding. Soliciting feedback from your employees about their experience will help you identify where improvements are needed.

Learn how to create an online onboarding process that improves employee retention.  

Foster employees’ sense of belonging from day one

Facilitate connections between your team members—especially those who work remotely—to prevent feelings of isolation and disengagement.

Creating a sense of psychological safety and team cohesion starts on an employee’s very first day. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Assign veteran employees to be onboarding buddies for new hires
  • Facilitate “chance” virtual encounters for employees to connect with their teammates
  • Empower new hires to achieve productivity independently

During the pandemic, more than half of workers surveyed said they felt more valued and included because everyone was working remotely. Companies need to make a concerted effort to ensure that bringing some employees back to the office doesn’t disrupt that.

Learn how to create a remote onboarding experience that nurtures a happy, productive hybrid workforce.

Avoid the pitfalls of hybrid workforce management

Employers who aren’t able to accommodate hybrid work risk losing a third of their workforce. But the hybrid model is testing leaders who are new to managing remote workers and might struggle to ensure on-site and remote employees receive equal treatment.

Here’s how to get ahead of those pitfalls:

  • Create a culture of accountability instead of micromanagement
  • Ensure equity in pay and promotions, regardless of location
  • Keep off-site workers in the loop with remote collaboration tools

Investing in technology and hybrid-management training will help your team leaders cultivate a positive workplace culture that attracts top talent to your organization.

Learn how to overcome the challenges of managing a blended workforce.

Hybrid work benefits businesses

Adapting your onboarding and management processes to accommodate flexible work arrangements won’t be without its hiccups. But doing so is not only critical for attracting and retaining skilled employees, but it can help you cultivate a high-producing workforce and improve your company’s bottom line.