Key steps to developing a successful hybrid workplace policy

Last updated on 17 January 2024

Leader and employee investment into a hybrid work model is crucial, otherwise, expected behaviours will not come to fruition. [Source: Shutterstock]

Establishing successful flexible workplace policies can be challenging when you’re starting from square one, yet there are several steps you can take to develop guiding principles that will result in positive outcomes. 

Dr Gleb Tsipursky, a hybrid work specialist and Chief Executive Officer of work consultancy firm Disaster Avoidance Experts, explored the ins and outs of hybrid work in Flex Index’s podcast, Flex Perspectives.

Among the top obstacles faced by executives and leaders is an inherent cognitive bias toward adopting a flexible workplace roster where hybrid work opportunities are promoted. 

“You see leaders falling into a number of cognitive biases. One of these is called the status quo bias where we get used to a certain way of dealing with situations and we have a lot of anxiety around change,” explained Dr Tsipursky.

Dr Gleb Tsipursky, Chief Executive Officer, firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. [Source: LinkedIn]

“The biggest tension I see among executives is the ones who are bringing in [hybrid work models] have a clear vision and about workers, productivity, engagement, morale.”

“Plenty of executives are not like that. They think the company should be doing what I want to be doing because I feel that’s my intuition telling me it’s the right way to work,” he added.

Using data to craft an effective hybrid work policy

If there is disharmony between leaders – and even if there is not – Dr Tsipursky’s first step to establishing a flexible work policy is defining shared values and visions. This should include:

  • What you want to accomplish, e.g., improving employee retention by hiring and supporting employees with remote work preferences
  • Your top five values, such as trust, inclusion and collaboration, and how they are reflected and promoted to staff through a flexible work policy 
  • What do those values mean in the context of a policy and how can they be interpreted into guiding principles for flexible work and future decisions?

Once those guiding principles have been identified, engage with staff through surveys and focus groups. Initial questions should focus on staff preferences and needs, their thoughts on productivity, the office environment and engagement opportunities, before switching to focus sessions where qualitative and quantitative data can be collected. 

“Employees have a different experience so you want to understand [them] if you care about employee retention, engagement and morale. You want to understand that your perspective as a leader will be inherently different,” said Dr Tsipursky. 

“If you think you will get it right in the first place without employee input and buy-in, that’s a very big problem. Inevitably, your policy will not fit everyone but if people have a chance for their voices to be heard and considered, then they are more likely to accept what the outcome will be even if it doesn’t fit their preferences.”

The input from staff will refine the initial principles proposed by the leadership team and it can result in a flexible work policy that closely reflects the needs and wants of your workforce. 

Communication tips for a successful hybrid work model

Refinement of guiding principles will ultimately lead to the creation of a flexible work roadmap covering desired behaviours and requirements from leadership and staff. Dr Tsipurksy said there are several key pillars this roadmap can focus on, with effective communication as one of the most important. 

Therefore, your flexible work policy can provide clarity over how remote work can be supported and the best practices for clear communication between staff. For example, communication channels can be broken down into three sections that are less expensive as they go down:

  1. The most important meetings and interactions are those that build relationships, result in major decision-making, need to resolve conflict or discuss a serious topic. These meetings should be conducted in person in the office. 
  2. Meetings and interactions where collaboration is essential but the foundations have been laid can be held virtually. If no major decisions have to be made they can be completed from the comfort of the home office. 
  3. Non-urgent communication supports all other channels of communication, with requests, comments or questions with no immediate impact perfect for emails, messages or voicemails. 

“Try to push down communication into the least costly bucket, so focusing on making communication as least costly as possible while still accomplishing the goal,” added Dr Tsipursky.

Establishing written guidelines for communication pathways will help ensure policies and values are aligned with employee behaviour, helping to create a more seamless hybrid work model. Examples include outlining what communication channels IT requests should go through, or what decisions should be made in-person, such as signing off policy changes or conducting employee onboarding.

You can view the conversation in full on Youtube

human resources
hybrid work model
work from home
flexible work arrangements
remote work
hybrid workforce
hybrid work policy
gleb tsipursky
disaster avoidance experts