How change communication influences the introduction of hybrid work

Gina Schumacher

The shift to hybrid work is here to stay. Companies that position themselves as hybrid work environments often have the expectation that hybrid work will happen on its own. Most companies don’t seem to realize that change management is absolutely necessary to successfully implement hybrid work models.

Change communication is crucial for a successful introduction of hybrid work

The biggest challenges companies face with hybrid work are coordination, scheduling, and the need to incentivize employees to come into the office. Some employees feel extrinsically motivated and enjoy social interaction with colleagues, while others are intrinsically motivated and work more productively from home.

But for both types of employees, it is important to know where their teammates are and how best to communicate with each other to enable effective meetings and collaboration. The future of hybrid work therefore requires clearly structured change management communications to successfully address this challenge, such as:

1. Always keep teams up to date

In times of change, such as the transition to a hybrid workplace, change communication from leaders to their team plays a critical role in whether or not employees feel engaged and involved.

It is important to regularly inform teams about New Work strategies. Targeted and regular change communication on the intranet, in internal wikis, in newsletters, in employee newspapers, in brochures, or on notice boards enables information to be exchanged in a way that is appropriate to the target group.

2. Determine days of presence

Employees are shaking hand, it shows how to communicate organizational change successfully.

Instead of leaving attendance entirely up to employees, companies should introduce guidelines. For example, presence days can be introduced on which teams or individuals are to be present in the office on certain days of the week. However, supervisors can also leave home office days flexible and only determine the number of presence days.

In teams where mentoring and collaboration are particularly important, supervisors may require certain employees to be present in the office more frequently. For example, individuals in junior positions often benefit more from face-to-face meetings with colleagues in leadership positions. On the other hand, teams that work more independently may have more flexibility in terms of where their members work.

3. Establish rules

When using desk sharing in companies, it is important to implement clear rules and guidelines to ensure a smooth and organized workflow. A clean desk policy, for example, should definitely be implemented to ensure that workstations are left neat and tidy after use. This not only helps keep confidential information secure but also makes organization easier for subsequent employees. Personal items could be stored in lockers, for example.

Furthermore, the use of personal or company-owned devices in the workplace should be precisely defined to take data protection and security aspects into account. Adhering to these rules can help desk-sharing function efficiently and productively while creating a harmonious and orderly work environment for all employees.

4. Determine communication tools

An important part of change communication is to create clear communication guidelines with core working hours for the team by recording them in a team norms document. Together with the team, you can determine which communication tools (email, Slack, MS Teams, etc.) are best for specific purposes. This will improve collaboration and reduce the sense of overwhelm that can arise when virtual communication tools are used inappropriately.

In addition, urgency should be graded by channel. For example, emails could be used for less urgent requests, chats for questions throughout the day, and phone calls for immediate concerns. This may seem tactical, but it is essential to making communication efficient and targeted.

5. Provide home office equipment

The right home office equipment can make a significant difference for employees. Things like a height-adjustable desk, a monitor, access to high-quality microphones and speakers, and adequate lighting are critical.

Managers should proactively ensure that workers are provided with the necessary equipment to ensure smooth communication and the same conditions as in the office.

6. Adjust desk equipment in the office

In hybrid working, it is of great importance to meet different departments with different requirements. Graphic designers, for example, need monitors with specific technical requirements, so these should be considered during setup and marked accordingly.

Some employees might need additional technical equipment such as a docking station or dual monitor. By providing a variety of desk options, companies can ensure that their employees are comfortable and able to perform at their best, regardless of where they work.

This also promotes employee satisfaction and retention, which in turn can have a positive impact on corporate culture and the success of the hybrid work model.

7. Invest in desk-sharing software

Flexopus - The Desk-Sharing Solution on different screens.

Desk-sharing tools are an extremely helpful change communication measure in the transition to hybrid work, as they help companies overcome the challenges of flexible working models.

Tools, such as Flexopus, allow employees to easily book their desks, whether they want to come into the office or work from home. A desk-sharing tool like Flexopus also eliminates double-booking, preventing chaos in the workplace. By managing and organizing desk bookings centrally, optimal space utilization is achieved, resulting in efficient use of office space.

In addition, desk-sharing software enables clear communication between employees, as they can see which colleagues are in the office on which day. This encourages collaboration and allows for a smooth work environment, even when employees are in different locations. The flexibility and efficiency these tools offer make them an indispensable part of the hybrid work environment.

8. Express appreciation

Normally, employees in home offices have less contact with their superiors. As a result, recognition and words of praise often fail to materialize, which can have a negative impact on morale. It is therefore all the more important to regularly express appreciation for work performance despite the digital distance. This can be done very well via video conferences or personal phone calls.

It would also be worth considering the planning of an annual “workation” in which the workforce travels abroad to work together and strengthen team ties at the same time.

Conclusion: Is change communication important?

By striking the right balance between in-person and virtual work, as well as strong social connections between colleagues, hybrid working can provide the desired flexibility and work-life balance for employees without compromising productivity, collaboration, or company culture. Thoughtful and deliberate change communication and appropriate desk-sharing software are key. Simply declaring “we are now a hybrid company” without clear structures can lead to failure.

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Markus Merkle
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