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Here’s How to Get Your Hybrid Workplace, Working

The Future Workplace is Hybrid

What does the future hybrid workplace look like?  Well, we’re deep into that future right now. At WorkTango we’ve been helping organizations that are scrambling to figure out if and how to bring employees back into a physical workspace – by sending out hybrid workplace questions in the form of pulse and active listening surveys, or as a full return to work survey which you can download here.     

How can you return and reintegrate employees into an office setting? And what will that look like?   

Many companies are giving employees the option to work from home. Or in the office. Or a combination of both.    

This change is something we all must navigate. Ideally, we’re doing so in consultation with our employees. Gathering consensus along the way.    

Below you’ll find a list of questions that can help you unpack employee sentiment but first, let’s understand what a hybrid workplace is. 

What Exactly is a Hybrid Workplace?

 A hybrid workplace means different things to different people.  Here are a few ways the hybrid work model is being defined: 

New Working Times

 Mariel Davis cofounder and CMO of  Spokn, a platform that helps organizations build hybrid cultures, talked with Muse about how employees and employers alike are realizing that having more flexibility to deal with non-work tasks during business hours is beneficial.   

…while some companies might still require everyone (both remote and in-office) to work from 9 AM to 5 PM according to the time zone of a particular office,” Davis says, “others will allow employees to choose their own hours entirely.” 

Putting flexibility in the hands of employees can unlock great productivity and bolster engagement. So in the hybrid workplace, time is a matter of “when” you work rather than “where” you work.  

Delineating In-Person and Remote Activities

Davis goes on to say how  “some companies may mandate certain hours for in-office work and let remote work be flexible. Or require employees to be available for meetings at certain times of day but let them choose their own hours otherwise.”  

Under this interpretation, remote and in-office work are based on certain activities. These could be on-site team meetings or brainstorming sessions where the energy of collaboration is unmistakable in the office.   

On the other hand, periods of deep thinking may be more productive off-site (depending, of course, on the remote environment).  

When over 70% of employees want remote work options to continue in some form and 65% want more in-person time with their teams, according to a Microsoft Report, what could be better than to offer a mix of both?  

Accommodating Diversity of Work Styles

 Ultimately, an effective hybrid workplace is a blend of time and place, activity and the preference of the employee.   

The best fit can be found by actively listening to the voice of employees. To turn a deaf ear is to risk a mass exodus.  

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest employees are ready to pack their bags if their preferences aren’t met.   

This is apparent when we see over 40% of the global workforce are thinking of  leaving their employers according to Microsoft’s study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries.   

Widespread resignations are being driven by employees who want fully remote jobs, positions with flexible working schedules, or a simple change of pace. 

And given that a substantial number of organizations are intending to continue to operate remotely, employers looking to fill vacancies aren’t vying for just local or even domestic talent. Because when it comes to luring talent, there are no boundaries. The competition is officially international. For employers and employees both.  

Being sensitive to the wishes of your workforce and taking a thoughtful approach to hybrid work is critical for keeping and attracting diverse talent on the move. A firm “here’s how it’s gonna be” stance simply won’t fly.

How to Figure out the Hybrid Workplace?

In this new heightened atmosphere of change, organizations need to be asking plenty of questions before, during and after workplace redesign.   

How do your employees envision the future workplace?   

Use the collection of hybrid workplace questions below to find out. Select those most relevant to your organization.   

At WorkTango we started our own internal conversation to find out how people want to work by asking (among other hybrid workplace questions), things like: 

I am comfortable returning to a physical work location from a safety perspective, even if it’s a limited number of days per week on site (I.e. office, production facility, client locations).

Hybrid questions - WT comfortability responses

If you had the choice personally, on average, how often would you attend an office location? 

Hybrid questions - WT frequency responses

What is your comfort level with coming into an office on set days (i.e. employees come in on specific set days as part of a schedule)?

Hybrid Questions - WT set days response

This tactic has helped us, and the organizations we work with, get a pulse on the expectations of our teams. And it gives us a springboard to have thoughtful conversations around how to address our hybrid workplace environments. 

Unfortunately, without taking this approach organizations tend to focus on what other companies are doing and what the surface-level options are versus tackling what makes sense and will work for them. 

So once you start asking questions and discussing the results, keep checking in and switching up what you ask. Dive deeper.  

Learn what you need to know and understand when developing and refining your hybrid work environment. You can always consult the experts at WorkTango to help with your hybrid work initiatives by booking a demo today! 


The Different Types of Hybrid Workplace Questions

REMOTE

Even after more than a year of working from home, Microsoft’s study found that 42% of employees say they lack essential office supplies at home.  One in 10 don’t have an adequate internet connection to do their job. And over 46% say their employer doesn’t help them with remote work expenses. What is the employee consensus on remote work and its handling at your organization? 

1. I have access to the things I need to succeed at work when working remotely. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale) 

2. I am able to be just as productive while working remotely when compared to my usual work location. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale) 

3. My productivity has suffered as a result of remote work. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale) 

4. I have the technology I need to help me stay connected to my team when working remotely. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale) 

5. If you were to stay in a Remote Work environment, what would you need to improve your experience? (Open Text) 

ON-SITE 

How motivated are people to return to the office? This next set of questions will give you a better idea.

6. I am looking forward to a return to my work site (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale) 

7. I am comfortable returning to my office/production facility/client worksite (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale) 

8. What’s your preference when it comes to working together as a team? 

          a. I would prefer coming into an office every day 

          b. I would prefer a hybrid model (some days in office, some days remote) 

          c. I would prefer being fully remote 

          d. I am already and will have to continue to be remote 

9. Is there a reason that you will not be able to return to a physical work location if asked to do so?

          a. Yes

          b. No

          c. I’m already back to my pre-COVID work arrangement

          d. I was a 100% virtual work employee pre-COVID

10. Do you have personal issues that require special accommodation upon returning to work (i.e. schools/daycare being closed). Please provide more information. (Open Text) 

11. How can the organization best support you in transitioning to in-office work? (Open Text) 

COMMUNICATION

If there’s one striking lesson thats come out of the past year and a half, it’s the role and value of communication. Transparency and frequency have kept people connected, employees engaged, and productivity on track. And it’s going to be just as crucial as your organization morphs into a new hybrid version of itself. 

12. My manager communicates effectively in a remote work environment. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale)

13. What has the organization done in response to COVID-19 that has positively impacted your employee experience? (Open Text) 

14. What question(s) do you have about COVID-19 and/or its impact on our organization that you would like answered? (Open Text) 

15. What have we learned from our virtual work situation that will enable our organization to operate even better as we move forward?  (Open Text)  

SAFETY

Not everyone is going to relish the idea of in-office work arrangements. Knowing where the concerns are, if any, and how many people have some degree of hesitancy will let you plan and communicate initiatives accordingly. 

16. If your commute requires you to take public transit, how comfortable do you feel commuting using public transit? (Extremely Uncomfortable to Extremely Comfortable Likert Scale)

17. I am nervous about returning to work while the threat of Covid-19 remains. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale)

18. I have read and understand recently updated organizational health and safety policies and procedures that have been put in place. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale)

19. I understand what is expected of me in maintaining a healthy and safe environment at work. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale)    

20. How do each of these safety measures affect your confidence in returning to work?  (Not Confident to Highly Confident Likert Scale) 

          a.  Strict social distancing, staggered shift patterns, restricted access to communal areas, limited numbers of people allowed in meeting rooms 

          b. Daily deep cleaning of premises

          c. Hand sanitizer provided

          d. One-way walking systems

          e. Social distancing floor markers

          f. Face masks provided

          g. Temperature checks upon arrival

21. From your perspective, which of the following considerations will help you safely and effectively return to your pre-COVID work location arrangement? (Select all that apply) 

          a. Enforced safety protocols

          b. Receiving both vaccines

          c. Improved public transit safety while commuting

          d. Other – please describe (Open Text)

22. If your role requires you to travel, how comfortable do you feel travelling?(Extremely Uncomfortable to Extremely Comfortable Likert Scale)

23. If you travel as a part of your role what types of travel arrangements will you be comfortable with moving forward? Select all that apply: 

          a. I do not travel for my role

          b. Overnight trip

          c. Day trip

          d. By car

          e. By train

          f. By plane

          g. I am not comfortable with any travel at this time

FLEXIBILITY

Working optimally from 9:00 till 5:00 isn’t for everybody. A flexible hybrid workplace structure allows people to adjust their schedule. It allows them to be most productive, whether that’s in the early morning, late into the evening, or a mashup of the two. Questions about individual flexibility and preferences will reveal the kinds of information required to guide space and scheduling decisions. 

24. I am willing to be flexible on the following (select all that apply) 

          a. Come in earlier

          b. Come in later

          c. Take an early lunch

          d. Take a late lunch

          e. Work from home for part of the week

          f. Work from home on a temporary basis

25. I would prefer to show up to the office (select one)

          a. 1x/month

          b. 2x/month

          c. 1 day/week

          d. 2 days/week

          e. 3 days/week

          f. 4 days/week

          g. Every day of the week

          h. Occasionally (maybe once every quarter), as I would prefer to work fully remote 

26. What day(s) of the week would you prefer to show up at the office (list in order of preference)

          a. Monday

          b. Tuesday

          c. Wednesday

          d. Thursday

          e. Friday 

          f. None. I would prefer to work fully remote. 

27. What time of the day would you prefer to work from the office? (Select one) 

          a. 9:00AM to 5:00PM EST 

          b. Morning only EST 

          c. Afternoon only EST 

          d. Flexible hours that vary

          e. None. I would prefer to work fully remote 

28. What hours should we keep as a team so that we’re available to one another whether working remotely or on-site? 

          a. 9:00 til 5:00 EST 

          b. Morning only EST 

          c. Afternoon only EST 

          d. Other: (Open Text) 

29. Do you have any additional comments or concerns about returning to a physical work location? If so, please tell us what they are. (Open Text ) 

QUESTIONS FOR PEOPLE LEADERS

Another fundamental lesson learned as a result of the pandemic is that people leaders are a beacon of calm in the storm. They’re the strongest link in your employee engagement chain. But like each of the members they’re supporting on their teams, they too need empathy, guidance and support from the organization.  What are they hearing? Experiencing? Feeling? Needing? 

30. Which of the following work flexibility options have your employees inquired about? (Select all that apply) 

          a. This question doesn’t apply to my team

          b. Possible shift to full-time remote work

          c. Possible mix of working from home and from a local office

          d. Possible early/late start (requests to consider a change of hours) 

          e. Other

          f. None of the Above 

31. Which of the following training or resources will help you effectively manage bringing some or all of your employees back to the office? (Select all that apply) 

          a. Tools/guidance related to HR or employee relation topics 

          b. Guidance/decision tree to help determine which team members should/may work virtually 

          c. Training on effectively managing a hybrid team; one that is partly in the office and partly virtual 

          d. Training on health and safety policies/guidelines 

          e. Training on having performance conversations/difficult conversations 

          f. Training on giving feedback and direction virtually 

          g. Training on leading better meetings with virtual teams 

32. I am prepared to lead a team which may include a blend of virtual work employees and others who are physically in an office. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale) 

33. I am comfortable with the technology options which permit us to have meetings with some employees working virtually and others working in a local office. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale) 

34. I am comfortable to monitor and enforce safety standards to ensure employee compliance with company COVID protocols. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale)

FUTURE FOLLOWUP

While your first hybrid-focused survey will give you a lay of the land, frequent follow-up pulse surveys will tell you whether the initiatives you’ve introduced are faltering or working well. 

35. In the past three months, on average how often are you going into a work location outside of your home for work?

          a. Everyday 

          b. 3-4 days a week 

          c. 1-2 days a week

          d. Less than 1 day a week

          e. Never

36. Which of the following activities are you at your most productive when in the office compared to working virtually? (Select all that apply) 

          a. Completing administrative work tasks 

          b. Focused work time to complete assignments 

          c. Creative thinking or problem solving related to my work 

          d. Collaborating with my peers on work projects 

          e. Networking with my colleagues 

          f. Connecting socially with my team 

          g. Finding and participating in developmental opportunities 

          h. Engaging in career/development conversations 

          i. Hosting or participating in meetings with my team

          j. Building relationships with clients or customers

          k. I was a 100% virtual work employee pre-COVID

          l. None of the above

37. My productivity is the same or better than it was prior to our new hybrid arrangements. (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree Likert Scale) 

38. What have we learned from this new workplace normal that will enable our organization to operate even better as we move forward?  (Open Text) 

QUESTIONS FOR THE EXECUTIVE TEAM

These questions are meant to stimulate the kinds of discussions needed at the executive level to narrow down options and give more definition around what a hybrid workplace means at your organization. 

39. How will we define who needs to work in the office and why? 

          a. How much does each employee need to collaborate with others and rapidly exchange information?  

          b. Should newer employees, recently promoted ones, or those with performance problems be onsite for better support? 

          c. Do some employees have children or others at home who need their help? Will those needs change when schools reopen? 

40. What are the protocols for keeping the office clean as different employees come in and out for in-person hours? 

41. Is there anywhere in the office where employees are not required to wear a mask? 

42. Can employees eat in the office? If so, where? 

43. Will there be meeting or common areas where teams can sit reasonably apart?

44. How will we measure the effectiveness of our hybrid work model?  

          a. What are our goals?  

          b. What metrics will we look at?  How often?

45. What training do we need to provide to employees ahead of time?  

          a. What will they need to know about the new hybrid arrangement?  

          b. Where will they turn to ask questions or offer feedback? 

Reboarding employees after a year or more of working remotely is a multi-faceted topic that’s addressed separately in our Hybrid Workplace series. Click here if you’d like to be notified of these new blogs as they’re posted. 

Moving Ahead with a Hybrid Workplace Model

THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING

In other words, “the real worth, success, or effectiveness” of any hybrid work model, “can only be determined by putting it to the test.”  

Of course, not all of these questions may be applicable to your situation, while other, more relevant items may be absent from this list.

For instance, you may want to introduce a statement used in previously conducted internal opinion polls to be able to track and compare findings.  Or correlate results with previous Diversity, Equity and Inclusion surveys, Health & Wellness questionnaires, and Occupational Health & Safety feedback forms. 

You may even want to tie it all into one large employee engagement survey.

Whatever your approach, actively listening to what your employees are saying about a “return to work” will make all the difference between watching talent move on or creating a workplace where people feel empowered, valued and engaged.

Check out our official Return To Work Survey Template.

 

Resources 

https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/how-ask-for-work-flexibility-during-annual-review/   

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes-personal-shopper/2021/06/24/amazon-prime-day-2021-robot-vacuum-deals/?sh=67653f37d3c9 

https://www.pwc.com/us/remotework?WT.mc_id=CT10-PL102-DM2-TR1-LS3-ND30-PR4-CN_ViewpointHighlights- 

https://www.ringcentral.com/us/en/blog/6-hybrid-work-questions-that-businesses-should-be-asking/ 

https://www.snapsurveys.com/blog/15-questions-returning-work-survey-covid-19/ 

https://www.themuse.com/advice/hybrid-work-models-explained-questions 

Additional Resources

Check out our guides on workplace culture, employee engagement, and employee surveys. Learn about every aspect of a successful employee voice initiative!

WORKPLACE GUIDES

We write on the current challenges HR and organizations are facing in order to support our community. Check out more of our articles here.

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