Successful Hybrid Work Models Have These 5 Things in Common

Claire Hastwell

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Claire Hastwell

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Written by Zach D’Amato, Claire Hastwell

Ready or not, hybrid work is here to stay.

Employee surveys Great Place to Work® gathered throughout 2020 and into May 2021 reveal words such as “hybrid,” “flexibility,” and “remote” mentioned by more than 53,000 employees when asked what they like about their workplace or what could make their workplace better.

The sentiment is clear: the days of all employees being together in an office are over.

“Going forward, place shouldn’t matter, but flexibility should,” says Great Place to Work’s CEO, Michael C. Bush. “I don’t think of the hybrid future as one of physical space. I think of it as really caring for people and giving them the flexibility that’s needed to have a high sense of well-being.”

But as we move into this new era of hybrid work, the future of how we’ll work is yet to be determined. How do companies define flexibility? What do employees want from the modern workplace? And why are some companies resistant to this kind of change?

The ongoing Great Resignation has proven that employees aren’t afraid to walk away in search of something better. Which is why companies that listen, adapt and change will be the ones to succeed and build the foundation for a new hybrid workplace future.

 

What is hybrid work culture?

A hybrid work model is one in which employees are split between in-office and remote locations. The arrangement may mean that only some essential employees are required to work on-site while others can work remotely, or it may be that all employees are given the freedom and flexibility to choose their work location and schedule.

But a successful hybrid work culture is about much more than just establishing a model around hours and location. Hybrid work culture is the combination of workplace systems, behaviors and values that cut across in-person and remote teams and impacting overall employee experience. Hybrid work culture is how you bring the different ways people work together.

To succeed, a hybrid workplace must equally consider the needs of in-person employees and remote employees and set up an arrangement that benefits all.

 

Here are 5 ways hybrid workplaces and leaders are achieving hybrid success:

 

1. They trust their employees

For leaders who found their own success in an office setting, it can be hard to imagine a high-functioning remote or hybrid work model — even though research on remote productivity debunks this view.

Used to being the kings and queens of their office castles, it takes a humble leader to embrace being just another face on a screen.

Companies that have successfully implemented hybrid workplaces are willing to transition from a control style of leadership to a more modern, people-centric style — a style that trusts employees to get the job done form anywhere.

Computing company NVIDIA embodies this with a “the project is the boss” philosophy, in which it’s up to employees (and their schedules) to decide when work is completed, as long as the project gets done as expected.

 

2. They listen to their employees

One of the major challenges of remote/hybrid work is that it’s harder to build empathy with people when you’re not physically with them. As such, remote employees may feel like their co-workers and managers aren’t seeing their full selves or their full potential.

They are willing to transition from a control style of leadership to a more modern, people-centric style — a style that trusts employees to get the job done.

But remote/hybrid work also brings communication advantages. You can now bring together people who typically wouldn’t connect — those who are in different locations and time zones or living in different circumstances, for virtual conversations.

Successful hybrid leaders know that they need to take advantage of these opportunities while minimizing isolation.

To maintain employee trust and fairness, they pro-actively solicit employee feedback in real time, whether that’s through regular pulse surveys, feedback sessions, or another method.

At Wegmans, an open-door policy means that employees are always empowered to speak directly with their managers.

But the company goes a step above with its Open Door Day program, during which all leaders, from managers to HR to executives, dedicate one-on-one time with employees, to discuss any topic the employee chooses. Often, employees are accessing leaders two, three, or four levels above their direct supervisor.

 

3. They co-create with and empower their employees

According to a study by Slack, 75% of executives want to work in the office, compared to 34% of non-executives. Sadly, too many senior leaders aren’t willing to see the benefits of remote/hybrid work, nor are they willing to give employees a say.

Leading hybrid companies have the opposite attitude. They aren’t afraid to put their employees in the driver’s seat and make them co-creators of the new workplace.

By offering flexibility, these workplaces empower employees to prioritize their personal lives — thus increasing employee well-being, engagement and retention.

EY has created what it calls a Design Council, a team of employees spanning across functions, regions and rank, and selected based on their ability to act as change champions at all levels of the company. Together, the team used their diverse perspectives to create EY’s “Way of Working” guidance.

By offering flexibility, these workplaces empower employees to prioritize their personal lives — thus increasing employee well-being, engagement and retention.

Similarly, at Certified™ great place to work IBM, the company hosted a “Think Forward Jam” — a two-day virtual event for more than 34,000 employees to co-create recommendations, build ownership, and share best practices of how everyone could work together and transition to the new normal.

 

4. They create equity between remote and in-person employees

When employees are scattered, it’s far too easy to overlook those who don’t get as much face time with management. Successful hybrid leaders ensure that all employees are considered for projects and promotions, and keep track of all employees to ensure no one is left behind.

These leaders also recognize the unfairness often felt by those employees whose roles don’t permit them to work from anywhere. One of the major contributing factors to the Great Resignation is frontline workers seeking out roles that offer more flexibility.

To combat this, successful leaders ensure on-site workers are given comparable flexibility as their remote counterparts.

For example, Hilton redefined its on-property roles and implemented a new “SuperFlex” workforce model that allows call center staff to choose their schedule and number of work hours.

Successful leaders ensure on-site workers are given comparable flexibility as their remote counterparts.

 

5. They set clear intentions with their employees

Over the past couple of years, we’ve all learned that living in chronic uncertainty is exhausting.

As we embark on this new normal of hybrid work, it’s crucial for employers to provide clarity and consistency. This not only impacts productivity and employee engagement, but also the well-being of everyone at the organization.

Salesforce has done this with their Flex Team Agreements (FTAs), which outline how work gets done, covering everything from how workdays are scheduled, how meetings should run, and how to collaborate in a way that keeps everyone connected.

These FTAs are made up of three levels — company, function and team — thereby creating a consistent experience for all.

Want to be a successful hybrid leader?

 

Listening to your employees via regular employee surveys will ensure your transition to hybrid is a smooth and meaningful one. Contact us to learn how.

 

Claire Hastwell

As the Content Program Manager at Great Place To Work, Claire helps decode the psychology behind high-trust workplaces using Great Place To Work’s extensive data repository on employee experience. Claire has co-authored noted reports such as “Women in the Workplace” and “The Power of Purpose at Work,” and contributed to Fortune with her profiles of the Best Workplaces™. Her latest report on employee retention strategies draws on the experience of 1.3 million employees to give leaders strategic guidance on retaining their top people. 

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Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2024 Evaluation Methodology

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2024 Evaluation Methodology

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces for Women™ List Methodology

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2024 Evaluation Methodology

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.