A few days ago, our CEO Avi Meir announced that TravelPerk will not be going fully remote. Instead, we’ll be implementing a hybrid working model where our employees will come to the office a few days a week, and work from home the rest of the time. Why? Because the meetings that matter happen in person.
Why is TravelPerk going hybrid?
Like most companies, TravelPerk was 100% remote throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We sent our people home in March 2020 both for their own safety and for the safety of others. It was a difficult time for us all, but it also presented an opportunity for reflection. How did we want to be as a company once we came out on the other side of the global health crisis? Did we want to go back to the office full-time? Did we want to be 100% remote?
Questions like these aren’t just about the future of work. They go right down to the heart of who you are as a company. It’s about looking at your values and doing a frank self-assessment of whether you are living by them or not. It’s about making sure that everything you do, you do with integrity to your people and your company culture.
After much deliberation, the way we see it is this:
The old way won’t work anymore
Employees see the option to work remotely as a perk within their employment package. In fact, a recent study showed that 80% of companies will offer some form of remote work post-COVID.
The future isn’t fully-remote either
We thrive on building connections with one another. The pandemic showed us how much we need to socialize face-to-face, both personally and professionally.
The meetings that matter happen in person
Think about your own life. The most important things took place in person. It’s the same at work. The meetings, moments, and milestones that matter the most happen in person.
Our recipe for a hybrid work model your people will love
So, if you’re thinking of taking the hybrid approach to work in your company, check out our 10 tips below.
1. Ask your people what they want
The days of a top-down approach of “we know what’s best for our employees” are gone. To run a business where people are happy, and ultimately more productive, you need to understand what their needs are and find a way to meet them. So, we did exactly that. We asked our people how they wanted to work after the crisis was over. Here’s what they said:
- 88% are productive working at home at least some of the time
- 63% are happiest combining remote work and office work
- 70% of managers prefer leading their teams through a hybrid model
2. Find the right balance for you
At TravelPerk, we decided to balance remote working with mandatory workdays in the office. We didn’t go fully remote, or fully in-person. In a 21st century company, it’s important to understand and address the changing wants and needs of your teams. Flexibility is one of the most sought-after perks. Finding a way to balance giving them the flexibility to work from home with the chance to have some face-to-face time is a game-changer. That’s why we encourage our employees to come into the office as many times a week as they see fit. We’re going to have a minimum number of working days in the office for all our teams, with flexible working hours to suit their schedules.
3. Identify the meetings that matter
We’ve all seen Dude With Sign’s sign saying “that meeting could have been an email”. And it’s true—there are some meetings that don’t need to happen the way they do. That’s why finding the right hybrid working formula is about empowering teams to identify the meetings that matter. Team meetings like creative brainstorms, team buildings, 1:1s, or strategy sessions would definitely fall into that bucket. Quick tactical calls, however, can happen via Zoom. It’s about seeking out the added value that you can gain by doing something in person.
4. Empower teams to come together
In a post-pandemic world, we need to help our teams find safe ways of coming together. Your community crew can help structure a rotational system, for example, where each team has priority to come to the office on a specific day. That way, you avoid overcrowding, enable social distancing, and help your people feel safe and inspired to meet face-to-face.
5. Start redesigning and get your office ready for a hybrid model
Focus on the practical side of what we need office spaces for—work. Yes, it’s cool to have a slide to get you from one floor to another. But it’s not practical. You need to think about how workspaces can promote collaboration and teamwork. Employees should have easy access to meeting rooms and whiteboards, for example. Spaces should be modular and flexible so you can turn larger open spaces into smaller meeting rooms.
It’s also important to think about how the tools you have in the office can translate to a remote environment. How can you make sure that everyone is getting the most out of their work environment, no matter where they are? Portable videocall equipment in each meeting room is essential in creating a smooth hybrid working experience and making sure that remote employees feel included. Don’t forget to have fun with it—experiment with new concepts and ideas to get people excited about coming to the office!
6. Give everyone the right equipment
In a hybrid world, it’s more important than ever to give employees the right equipment. They need to be able to seamlessly transition from their home office to the onsite office and the other way around with minimal hassle. Make sure that, for example, they don’t need to carry a thousand adaptors to make their laptops work with the screens at home and in the office. Going between the two should be as easy as sticking their laptops in their backpacks and heading out. Don’t make them think about this cable or that cable when they’re commuting.
7. Bring back in-person all-hands meetings
All-hands meetings exist to give people energy. To motivate them. To inspire them. Doing this on Zoom just doesn’t give them the same experience. Find a safe way to bring back all-hands meetings, like social distancing, ventilation, or mandatory rapid antigen testing the day of the event. Give people a way to come together to talk about the company, and to forge personal connections beyond their own teams.
8. It’s all about building an internal community
Having a strong company identity and culture comes from having an engaged internal community. Don’t treat your people as an audience—treat them as members of a community. That’ll create a sense of unity and belonging whether team members are at home or in the office. Having this sense of being part of a bigger mission leads to higher employee satisfaction and engagement, and ultimately makes them stay with you longer and perform better. This holds all the more true in a hybrid model when engagement becomes even more challenging by adding a digital dimension.
9. Bring people together outside the office
In creating a strong company culture, it’s important that co-workers build relationships beyond work. Organizing social events in a non-professional setting face-to-face is a great way to encourage team building, employee engagement, and the creation of friendships. The way they are together, what they talk about, and how they interact are important factors in fostering the company culture you need to transmit both offline and online.
10. Ask for everyone’s participation
If you’re organizing any kind of event—in-person or digital—always ask your employees to participate. Offer them the opportunity to organize activities for their teammates and colleagues. This really invests them in their community whether they’re physically present or online. Give them the opportunity to share what they love with their colleagues! It’ll really boost the employee experience for the better.
If you would like to learn more about how we’re managing these challenges, or you’re just looking to share similar experiences as a company now too, our Community team would love to chat with you. Feel free to contact Oriol (our Head of Community) at firstname.lastname@example.org.