The hybrid work model is here to stay

We are now three years on and as organisations recognise the potential and benefits of hybrid work models, provisions are mainstream, and policies need to be legitimised and robust.

The Hybrid Policy is now a crucial organisational document. As businesses seek to formalise their hybrid work strategies and develop comprehensive policies, it is increasingly the responsibility of HR professionals to understand the fundamental aspects of creating an effective and inclusive hybrid working policy.

This article aims to provide actionable advice and guidance to HR professionals, serving as a valuable resource in their endeavour to navigate the complexities of implementing a successful hybrid work environment.

Working with experts on your Hybrid Working Policy

Having a hybrid working policy in place is becoming more and more important. Not only does it support the success of the day-to-day working practices needed in a modern world, but it’s a key driver of recruitment and fundamental to retaining top-performing staff.

Consequently, we work alongside many HR departments – from sectors as wide as Insurance, Healthcare and Not-for profit, helping and supporting them to implement a hybrid working strategy that works across all functions for maximum benefit.

Here you can reference how our work with Bupa has enabled its hybrid strategy and how our partnership with the British Heart Foundation contributed to the charity winning multiple awards, while reducing its real estate footprint by 28%.

The right hybrid working strategy for your organisation can enhance wellbeing and performance while enabling cost efficiencies and reduced carbon footprints. Here is further information on how AWA has instilled a scientific approach to such a crucial element of hybrid.

Creating or updating a Hybrid Working Policy for maximum impact

To develop an effective policy for hybrid working, it is essential to draw upon science, research and evidence to adopt best practices.

The following steps can be used to gather research to iterate or redevelop more embryonic or outdated policies.


1. Analyse workforce surveys and studies

Leverage employee surveys and studies that examine the preferences, experiences, and challenges of remote and hybrid work arrangements. Focus groups and senior leadership interviews can draw out business drivers and functional needs for hybrid along with risks.

Analysing such data allows organisations to gain insights into employees’ expectations, work-life balance, communication needs, and productivity in remote or hybrid settings. By considering the findings, organisations can tailor their policies to address specific employee concerns and optimise the benefits of hybrid working. Furthermore, such company-wide research and opinion gathering ensures that it is not HR’s hybrid working document, but a company policy, contributed to by the entire workforce.

AWA found employees prefer to be in the office on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – with nearly 80% of people working from home on a Friday.

These preliminary surveys often uncover potentially costly but avoidable issues with the right workplace strategy and hybrid working strategy. The workplace plays a crucial role in how work gets done, and so in achieving your company’s vision. To account for peaks and troughs, you need to ensure you have modelled correctly the amount of space required, otherwise your hybrid strategy could fail.


2. Understand the impact on productivity and performance

Research consistently indicates that hybrid working provides the potential for increased productivity and performance through people having the right environments to perform their varying tasks in their working day.

Make your colleagues aware of this expectation – cite studies that highlight the positive impact of remote work on employee output, such as reduced distractions, improved focus, and increased job satisfaction. These are predicated on good practices adopted by individuals and teams.

Reinforce the organisation’s commitment to fostering an environment that promotes high performance and recognises the potential benefits of hybrid working arrangements.

Our recent study, why employers benefit from hybrid working, showed on average hybrid working employees deliver nearly two extra weeks of work a year for their employer as well as working harder and better in a hybrid environment.


3. Incorporate employee well-being and work-life balance research

Likewise, your Hybrid Policy document (or at least the supporting comms around the implementation) should highlight the benefits for the employees themselves.

Studies emphasise the importance of employee well-being and work-life balance, which can be positively influenced by hybrid work arrangements. Reference research that explores the connection between flexible work options and enhanced job satisfaction, reduced stress levels, and improved mental health outcomes.

A recent Stanford University study revealed attrition rates among remote workers in a hybrid setting were reduced by over a third.


4. Address collaboration and communication strategies

The reason many people like and thrive in their jobs is human connection. A hybrid policy (and subsequent working practices) need to ensure this will not degrade.

Hybrid working arrangements necessitate effective collaboration and communication practices. Refer to studies that examine the challenges and benefits of virtual collaboration tools, communication platforms, and project management systems. Incorporate evidence-based recommendations for maintaining strong team connections, fostering collaboration, and ensuring clear communication channels across remote and on-site employees. More information on how to manage the hybrid working is here and information on preserving workplace social cohesion is also available here.


5. Consider the organisational culture and leadership style

AWA’s research with the Centre for Evidence Based Management (CEBMa), highlights that a transformational style of leadership is likely to be most successful in leading hybrid teams and that a psychologically safe culture will allow teams and individuals to deliver high performance.

Outline and emphasise the role of supportive leadership, trust-building initiatives, and inclusive communication strategies in cultivating a positive hybrid work culture. Align the new policy and the hybrid working model with the organisation’s existing values and leadership approach.

Our approach is to up-skill leaders so they understand the nuances and practices for leading teams that are working hybrid whilst equipping them with the facilitation skills and confidence to run sessions with their teams that arrive at an agreement on how the team will work known as a ‘Working together Agreement’ (WTA).

The WTA needs to cover topics like:

  • Relationship building
  • Time together
  • Induction of new members
  • Collaboration
  • Information sharing
  • Dealing with difficult subjects
  • Workload management
  • Performance management

How to structure a policy for home and hybrid working

To ensure a well-structured policy for home and hybrid working, integrate the following research-backed components into your policy framework. The aim is to provide a comprehensive document that supports your hybrid model.

Hybrid Policy introduction

Establish the importance of hybrid working, referencing research that highlights the benefits for both employees and the organisation. Emphasise the organisation’s commitment to embracing flexible work models and creating a supportive work environment.

Policy review cadence

Clearly state the frequency and process for reviewing the hybrid working policy, emphasising the organisation’s dedication to continuous improvement and adaptation based on emerging research and employee feedback.

Hybrid working definitions

This is not a hybrid policy-specific inclusion, but it is important to note that not all employees may be acquainted with the ideas and terminology of working in a hybrid model. This can be overcome with simple and precise definitions of key terms related to hybrid working, drawing on industry-accepted definitions and research literature to ensure clarity and consistency, while providing a strong basis for additional reading should any employee wish to do so independently.

Our definition of hybrid working is:

‘A range of ways of working that vary the time, pattern and place of work to (wherever possible) support the lifestyle needs of the individual whilst delivering high levels of team performance’.

That said, this is an apt part of the policy to make a clear distinction between flexible working and hybrid working. This is usually defined as what an employee can do by choice to aid flexibility as opposed to hybrid working structures that are company-wide with deviations requested and determined by a line manager. The policy should stress that hybrid working is optimal when implemented and observed on an organisational level. Some roles within that structure may still have a higher degree of freedom in their choice of work environments than others, but the tools, methodologies and etiquette need to be applied consistently by everyone for hybrid to underpin holistic change and success.

Outline hybrid working practices

This is the crux of the policy. Outline the various hybrid working arrangements available within the organisation, supported by research that validates the effectiveness of these models in promoting employee productivity, satisfaction, and work-life balance.

Provide examples of how pre-policy surveys and consultations have impacted the creation of the hybrid model adopted.

AWA found the majority of offices (58%) have introduced some form of hybrid policy.

We work with senior leadership teams to create tangible processes and guidelines which then get converted into a Working Together Agreement (WTA). We then train leaders so they know more about the subject and how to facilitate discussions with team members. The output is a series of agreements, guidelines agreed at organisational level and team level with complete buy in.

The AWA Hybrid Working Index notes 26% of offices with a hybrid policy, vary it at a team level, while 26% of offices are mandating their people to come into the office 2 or 3 days a week


Working environment in the hybrid model

This is another key section. The policy needs to integrate or reference research findings on home office setup, ergonomic practices, and digital infrastructure requirements to ensure a safe, secure, and productive working environment. Emphasise the organisation’s commitment to employees’ health, safety, and well-being. Some organisations may even wish to certify their people to work at home beyond a certain number of days.

It is also the opportunity to stress that hybrid doesn’t equal remote. Outlining how the existing office environment functions in a hybrid model can be a powerful indicator of this. You can find more information on workplace strategy and shaping your office for success in a hybrid model here.

The AWA Index found organisations that mandated their workforce to come into the office three  days a week, as opposed to two, only resulted in an increased attendance of 0.1 days a week on average.


Other important practicalities of an HR policy

Address how existing practical considerations such as health and safety risk assessments, equipment provision, expenses, tax implications, insurance coverage, and employer access rights are impacted.

Performance management

Detail the importance of providing equal opportunities for training, development, and promotion to both remote and on-site employees. Emphasise the organisation’s commitment to fair and consistent performance evaluation across all work arrangements.

State that employees will be provided with clear performance metrics, expectations, and evaluation methods. Address potential challenges in assessing remote work performance and establish a fair and consistent evaluation process.

Encourage line managers to focus on an outcomes-orientated approach to performance management. Aim for employees to have a clear understanding of the outcomes expected and are empowered to deploy an approach that best enables them to deliver to these outcomes. An inputs-managed approach tends to restrict employee autonomy and over-burdens line managers.

Security and compliance

Incorporate research-based guidelines on data security, privacy, and information handling for employees working remotely. Reference studies or existing policies outlining best practices for secure document storage, data transmission, and compliance with data protection regulations.

A downloadable Hybrid Working Policy is just the start

As organisations navigate the changing landscape of work, implementing a hybrid work model and creating a hybrid working policy is crucial.

By starting with the downloadable hybrid policy template provided, HR professionals can establish a solid foundation for their hybrid strategy.

This article has presented actionable advice for developing a comprehensive policy that covers various aspects, including roles and responsibilities, work arrangements, communication, performance management, and employee well-being.

Remember, a well-crafted hybrid working policy sets the stage for a successful and adaptable hybrid work environment that benefits both employees and the organisation as a whole, but it is not a hybrid working model, nor it is the sole enabler of such a model.

We honestly believe that for hybrid to be a success, an organisation needs a unified and strategic approach starting from a legal and contractual standpoint and ending in the provision of a hybrid workplace.

As mentioned AWA is well-versed and world-renowned for its work helping organisations deliver a coherent and holistic workplace strategy that covers hybrid working and beyond. HR often needs to work alongside facilities management and senior leadership to deliver a workplace that allows hybrid working to thrive – and we can help.

To download our hybrid working policy template please complete your details below:

To download the Hybrid Working Policy Template please complete your details below:

Client Testimonial

“We have worked with AWA for more than five years and value the collaborative partnership we have with them. They have supported the ongoing evolution of our workplace, providing deep insights and extensive expertise. With their help, we’ve been able to create a transformational space which supports our hybrid working approach and transforms our culture and ways of working to become more agile and innovative. This helps us recruit and retain the best talent, which supports our core purpose of funding research to save lives. None of this would have been possible without the help of AWA.”

Kerry Smith Chief People Officer, British Heart Foundation

“Mintel has worked successfully with AWA for over a decade on several major projects. We chose them for their expertise and experience at the cutting edge of understanding workplaces. They lead the industry with well-crafted research to understand the dynamic workplace landscape and help solve the real-world issues of operating successfully in a changing world. Along with data and insights they bring practical processes that involve everyone from grass root team members to the most senior executives, developing effective change to meet all parties’ goals. They have become trusted advisers around not only workplace matters but in behavioural change.”

Peter Haigh Chairman, Mintel

“Leading a major change management project in complex international organisation is challenging undertaking. I knew it would involve multiple stakeholders, take wide-ranging collaboration and that we would need some expert, confident experience to help steer and deliver it. AWA has provided that, not by steaming in and dictating how things should be based on their ideals, but by listening to us, learning, understanding and advising. I have enjoyed working closely with them on this project. I have felt supported, they have always been available to discuss challenges and options and have always responded promptly, constructively and positively with solutions and alternative ideas for consideration.”

Tom Crame Head of Global Workplace, Amnesty International

“We were really keen to understand how the learnings and behaviours of Covid enforced home working would affect the post-pandemic return of staff and in particular to our Sheffield campus as we have plans to restack and refurbish the office space. AWA’s detailed and in-depth engagement process allowed us to reach out to all levels of occupants and really understand staff perception on what will be needed to create a new working environment that would align with business requirements and where changes in behaviour, management style and space might be appropriate. Their insights also allowed us to create a blueprint of alternative space types that we’ve used to inform the repurposing of space across our nationwide estate.”

Steve Chapman Interim Head of Estates ICF Security, Estates and Information Directorate, Home Office

“AWA has been a great resource of global data and research for us regarding agile, hybrid and the world of working. They are responsive, willing to question assumptions, and work as a partner to help us make good decisions.”

Neil Austin VP Real Estate Portfolio Management and Transaction Services, Omnicom Group