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4 Things to Communicate When Hiring for a Hybrid Workplace

March 17, 2022 Talent Management
Kaya Ismail
By Kaya Ismail

The secret's out: Employees love working remotely. According to Good Hire’s State of Remote Work survey, 68 percent of US employees would rather work remotely than in an office, and 85 percent prefer jobs that offer remote working or hybrid options. Those are not numbers to ignore when developing a hiring strategy in a talent-starved market.

They're also important to recall as remote organizations weigh the option to return to the office or implement a hybrid strategy. As circumstances change, leaders should ensure they keep employees aware of any policy changes and plans for the future that could impact them.

A Need for Empathy and Leniency

The mass shift to remote work in 2020 was destabilizing for most people. Aside from coworkers being furloughed or laid off, employees had to quickly pivot to a new way of working — one that didn't always work in the early days of the pandemic. More than two years later, most have adapted to the new digital workplace, and many expect to have the opportunity to retain the same flexibility into the future.

Hybrid leaders understand there's a need for empathy when communicating a change in work policies with employees. But few know that communication with new hires about where work will be expected to take place is equally important.

“For some, leaving home can bring about anxious thoughts, not to mention the stress of having to re-adjust routines,” said Amanda Stephens, vice president of operations at Canadian marketing firm seoplus+. Companies that may be currently operating remotely but plan to adopt an onsite or hybrid model must give employees a transitionary period to adjust to commuting and other routine changes.

Related Article: 5 Ways to Build Company Culture in Hybrid Work

Prioritize Clear and Transparent Communication

Many employees today can do their jobs from anywhere, and some have come to enjoy the flexibility provided by remote work. The prospect of shifting to the office, even if only two days a week, may be off-putting to this group. That's why hybrid company leaders need to be clear and transparent in their communications when explaining the choices made and the policies that will be enforced in the future.

"There should be a dialogue around what makes employees most productive and what the value of getting together in person can bring,” said Petra Rosvall, chief people officer at Plano, Texas-based software company M-Files.

When employers impose rules without consulting employees and letting them know why something is happening, it can alienate them. A better approach is to communicate the benefits from the potential shift.

Related Article: Is a Return to the Office Right for Your Company?

4 Tips for Hiring in a Hybrid Workplace

Organizations that are remote today but plan on pivoting to a hybrid workplace in the future must ensure their plans are clearly articulated in the hiring process. Before any new hire joins the organization, leaders should communicate four key elements:

1. Policy

Organizations need to be crystal clear about the terms of their policies because what works for one company may not apply to another. Dragos Badea, CEO at Bucharest, Romania-based Yarooms, said a hybrid-work policy should communicate how much work can get done from outside of the office and how much needs to happen in the office. It should also include how employees are expected to interact with more senior personnel. This can prevent any surprises from occurring down the line.

“Define what days in the office look like vs. days working at home, and how the supporting collaboration software works to ensure they have a seamless working experience,” he said. If there will be hybrid requirements down the line, this policy should include justification for that.

Related Article: Can Hybrid Work Be Fair to All?

2. In-Person Requirements

There may be instances when in-person attendance is mandatory on a particular day. “Whether that is an annual general meeting, performance reviews, #WorkplaceWednesdays or whatever the case may be, communicate this upfront,” said Stephens.

If these requirements aren’t communicated clearly early on, the sudden demand to be on-site can alienate employees who were expecting to join a remote-first company and have the flexibility to come and go throughout the week.

According to Stephens, even if attendance isn't mandatory, implying it would be best to be on-site could be perceived as making false promises. Saying one thing but meaning another can have damaging effects on the organization's reputation and on the overall employee experience. 

Related Article: Analyzing the Hybrid Work Strategies of Twitter and Google as They Return to the Office

3. Level of Flexibility

One of the benefits of being remote is asynchronous working. Being upfront about the level of flexibility employees will have in a hybrid environment can have a big impact on their level of satisfaction with their work environment. This is true of both existing team members and candidates in the hiring process.

“Some employees thrive in the remote setting, while others desire a bit of old normalcy, so understanding a prospective employee's needs from the onset can ensure that every employee is joining an environment that will set them up for success,” said Rosvall.

4. Potential Fit

Hybrid company leaders should make a point to clearly explain to new hires any policy regarding how the company views hybrid work and why. That kind of transparent communication enables both parties to determine if they are a good fit for each other.

While a candidate may have the perfect set of skills and attitude, their values and vision might not align with that of the organization. During the hiring process, it’s therefore essential to determine where everyone stands on these issues to assess overall fit and minimize turnover.

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