Transitioning to Hybrid Work? 10 Steps to Manage the Change

Published
June 2, 2023
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Hybrid Work
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Transitioning to Hybrid Work? 10 Steps to Manage the Change

TL;DR Article Summary

Successful hybrid work adoption requires a well-crafted communication plan. Here are best practices to prepare a future-ready strategy that effectively manages and communicates the transition to hybrid work.

  • Before implementing hybrid work, listen to your employees. Conduct an audit to understand their needs and address concerns.
  • Develop a timeline and stick to it. Communicate regularly and transparently throughout the process.
  • Support employees with training and resources. Create FAQs, guides, and videos to help them adapt.
  • Encourage two-way communication and gather feedback. Foster a culture of openness and address concerns quickly.
  • Continuously evaluate and improve your plan. Monitor feedback and update your strategy based on new information.

Short on time? Download our checklist to start implementing a strategic transition to hybrid work.

When Salesforce launched its ‘Success from Anywhere’ work model in 2021, leaders spent years researching the best way to create a workplace where their employees could thrive. The change began by launching many internal employee surveys to get a grasp of what employees want from their workplace and their jobs post-pandemic. The results showed that the majority wanted a hybrid work model.

Rather than forcing their employees to adapt to a work structure without asking for input, Salesforce redesigned its workplace driven by employee feedback. It empowered employees by giving them a voice—one the company listened to and took action based on it.

Salesforce redesigned its workplace driven by employee feedback.

With employees increasingly demanding flexible work and more companies planning to implement a hybrid model, organizations looking to make the switch may be wary of how to do so. The hesitation is especially understandable when there may be no strategy to guide a communications plan for implementing hybrid work. According to Accenture, only 26% of CEOs have a future-ready strategy that is holistically focused on changing how, why, and where we work. 

Here are 10 steps to effectively manage and communicate the transition to hybrid work at your organization:

1. Conduct an Audit of Your Current Company Culture

Before jumping straight into hybrid work at your organization, you must decide how to structure this new way of working. An audit of your company’s current attitudes toward hybrid work can help you identify any potential problem areas. Are there fears, misunderstandings, or uncertainties your employees harbor that you have to address? You can be more prepared by anticipating and proactively addressing potential concerns and resistance from employees.

When conducting any audit, create channels for employees to provide feedback, ask questions, and share their experiences. You may conduct surveys, polls, and focus groups to help you gather data and interpret data on your employees’ preferences and needs. Knowing what works best for your employees will help you get buy-in, smooth out the transition, and create a more positive employee experience that will reward your organization in the long run. 

“To be a listener who connects with all types of people, we have to unlearn a few things. We’ve all been taught about active listening, eye contact, intense stare and a compassionate look – that’s not listening. Repeating what the person says – that’s not listening. However, being humble and always hunting and searching for the best idea possible, that’s what listening is. And employees can feel whether you’re doing that or not.”
— Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work

2. Define Objectives and Set Goals

Identify what you want to achieve by implementing hybrid work. It could be enhancing the employee experience, increasing productivity, improving work-life balance, or optimizing space utilization. The objectives you set should be based on your findings from your audit.

Once you have defined your objectives, set goals and success metrics to guide your communication efforts. For example, if your employees are worried that hybrid work will disrupt their work-life balance, you might consider the different hybrid work models and amenities you can include in the office to help your employees. Then, measure employee satisfaction and usage rates of the amenities to evaluate the success of your goals.

3. Identify Target Audiences

Good communication starts with knowing and understanding your audience. When implementing hybrid work at your organization, several key stakeholders exist, including executives, managers, HR personnel, and employees. There should be a process for who will speak to the stakeholders, an outline of what they will say, and an action plan moving forward.

By understanding that these stakeholders have different responsibilities and pain points with transitioning to hybrid work, you can be better prepared to address the various issues and empathize with any potential frustrations in your communications plan.

Once you understand the different perspectives and concerns, you can tailor your messaging effectively. If your audience is your employees, create an up-to-date internal document with important information and dates for employees to refer to, plus contact info if employees have follow-up questions. 

4. Craft Key Messages

Before outlining and writing your plan, identify the messages you need to promote, to whom you’re targeting those messages, and on which communication channel(s) you will promote them. All the steps you took beforehand should help you answer these questions. Ensure your messages are clear, concise, and aligned with organizational objectives. For instance, if a goal is to help employees achieve better work-life balance, you might emphasize the benefits of having the option to work from different locations and the opportunities it brings for work-life balance.

When writing your communications plan, work with groups or representatives from your stakeholders to improve accuracy, keeping in mind the varying needs of different employee groups. For example, while some individuals will be more inclined to work in the office, other groups—like parents or those with aging parents—may need more flexibility due to caregiving responsibilities. 

5. Choose Communication Channel(s)

The channels you choose to communicate with your employees depend on your message. For company-wide announcements, consider an all-company meeting or town hall—where employees can ask questions—followed by emailing all employees and posting the news on your organization’s internal site.

From there, you could consider more personalized communications on a mix of channels (1:1 meetings, team meetings, direct chats, video messages) to ensure comprehensive coverage.

If the information needs to be referenceable, record a video message so it’s easily found and accessible later. You can send direct messages using Slack or Google Chat for general updates. Consider communicating synchronously through a video call for time-sensitive, specific, or confidential messages. 

6. Create a Timeline

Establish a timeline for communication activities, including a schedule that states when and how often you will communicate key messages and updates. Here are some questions to consider as you create your timeline:

  • How early before implementation will you start communicating?
  • What’s the cadence of your communication?
  • Will you have a channel to take feedback while communicating?
  • Is this a one-way communication vs. two-way discussion?

You should have an estimate of how much time each step in implementing the new work model will take. Consider both pre-implementation and post-implementation phases to ensure consistent and ongoing communication.

7. Develop Supporting Materials

A smooth transition to a hybrid workforce requires different technologies that employees may need to learn how to use. Desk booking software is essential for a hybrid workforce that needs to come in and out of the office on different days. Device management and digital whiteboard tools will ensure timely access to information and virtual collaboration.

Employees will need to learn new skills to use these tools, and organizations must find ways to support that. Use materials to address common questions, provide guidance, and educate employees about new work arrangements. Create FAQs, fact sheets, infographics, loom videos, and training resources for employees to access anytime if they have questions or need a reminder.

Additionally, a hybrid workplace requires new policies and guidelines, such as desk-sharing etiquette, to ensure the model works. Share guidelines on topics like hot desking etiquette, which can include cleaning up workstations after use, respecting personal space, and keeping noise levels in shared areas at a considerate level. 

8. Communicate Expectations

A hybrid work model means new ways of managing and communicating expectations with teams by offering resources and training to help employees adapt to the new work arrangements. That includes tips and best practices for working in a hybrid environment, such as suggestions on when to work synchronously or async, time management, setting priorities, minimizing distractions, and creating an effective work routine. Leaving no room for guessing helps build team trust.

“The biggest challenge I've encountered with hybrid work is the miscommunication and mistrust that stems from poorly laid out communication expectations. For instance, not having clear expectations for hours of availability and/or response times can trigger suspicion between peers. Make sure you write these down and keep them in place people can reference.”
-Jenny Moebius, SVP at Skedda

9. Foster Two-Way Communication

Just like performing the audit from the beginning, continue to encourage employees to provide feedback, ask questions, and share their experiences as you go through the implementation process. Consider town halls, surveys, focus groups, suggestion boxes, or dedicated email addresses to gather feedback and address concerns.

For instance, Salesforce established a successful two-way communication that surfaced only 3% of Salesforce employees wanted to be office-based, 27% said they preferred to be fully home-based/remote, and 34% preferred a hybrid option. These insights drove its hybrid workforce policy. The company has redesigned many of its offices to accommodate its hybrid model.

Implement a hybrid work model that your employees support. Foster a culture of open communication and actively seek input to address concerns, iterate on processes, and enhance the hybrid work experience.

10. Evaluate and Adjust

There’s always room for improvement. After presenting your plan to stakeholders, determine what aspects went well and areas for improvement next time. For instance, the supporting materials you created may have worked with a specific audience but not another, or you leveraged the wrong communication channel and unintentionally left some employees in the dark.

Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your hybrid work transition plan by monitoring employee feedback, engagement, and adoption rates, and use this feedback to refine your messaging and communication strategies as needed.

Creating a Hybrid Work Plan That Works for Your Organization

Developing a comprehensive communication plan is crucial for successfully implementing hybrid work within an organization. One size doesn’t fit all when delivering what’s best for your company. Hybrid work for a small company with fewer than 50 employees will look different from an enterprise company, so tailor your plan to your organization’s culture, values, and specific needs.

Regularly reviewing and updating your plan to accommodate changes and concerns can create a robust communication strategy that fosters engagement among all stakeholders and leads to a smoother transition.

For strategies on how to make collaboration more effective for your hybrid teams, read Teamwork or Hard Work? Get 5 Steps Closer to a Collaborative Hybrid Office. If you’re ready to start scheduling and booking desks and rooms, create your free Skedda account today.

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