How can you make the most out of a hybrid work setup?
This is for my readers who are business owners, team leaders, and managers. If you’re in this position, you have a say on what kind of work setup you’d want to have.
In SEO Hacker, we used to observe a hybrid work setup. As we transitioned from a full work-from-home situation to a hybrid one, we came to the office on Tuesdays to Thursdays, while spending Mondays and Fridays at home.
Now, speaking from our experience with this setup, it really does take a special kind of person to succeed. That means that these people are working from home—and they’re really producing the best work they possibly can in the most efficient amount of time.
I believe not everyone is cut out to do that, and not everyone has the discipline and the sense of accountability to be able to pull that off.
Well, there’s a saying that if you want to enjoy the game, you must observe the rules.
For example, a game of basketball wouldn’t be fun if the players would go out of bounds, or hit each other with the basketball, and no one is stopping them. There’s a referee for a reason, and that’s to make sure the game is enjoyable and playable.
Rules make the game very, very good. And if you don’t have rules for working from home, the game will not be as enjoyable. So you don’t just focus on the output, but also the rules and guidelines you set in place.
And I understand some companies are just focused on output. These companies think that as long as the outputs are being delivered, then their people are working well even at home. They’re happy, and employees are let off the hook.
At SEO Hacker, we observe work from home as if you’re working in the office. That is because one of our core values is respect for work. You have to respect the work that you do. Your time in and time out has to be on par with everyone else. And you have to make sure that you keep yourself in check and that you’re accountable to your team leaders on what you do at home as much as you would be if you were in the office.
Now, there are a couple of things that I want to address here, and I hope you learn from them how to make the most of a hybrid work setup.
First of which is on those days that you will all be going to the office, you have to make sure that you maximize those face-to-face interactions. What do I mean? Make sure you maximize your meetings on days that you go on-site. That’s when you have all of your meetings. Don’t do your meetings when you’re working from home via Zoom.
For SEO Hacker, we’re in the office Tuesdays to Thursdays, and those are the days that we set our most important meetings. If you have so many meetings, sometimes those meetings would overlap because now you’re just observing three working days instead of five working days per week.
But you have to be able to manage that and squeeze your meetings only on the days that you’re working on-site because this maximizes your coordination. This maximizes the enjoyability of those relationships, therefore improving morale. This maximizes ideas. This maximizes appreciation for each other.
And, we make sure to celebrate all of the wins. We applaud people who have done exceedingly well week by week. And we do that in person because doing it online simply doesn’t have the same impact.
In fact, you would probably agree when I say that when you do meetings online, some people are tuned out. Maybe their cameras are turned off. Maybe they’re there, but they’re doing something else. You could see their eyes moving to and fro and they’re not tuned in to the conversation or the meeting, and you lose their engagement.
It’s so easy to lose engagement when you’re doing meetings online. This is why we make sure to maximize our face-to-face days by holding our most important meetings then.
Now you can still do some of your meetings online, such as one-on-one meetings. I’m not saying they’re completely ineffective. I’m just saying that, as much as you can, do your meetings during your on-site, face-to-face days.
The next thing to consider for your hybrid work setup is the times. And right now, what you need to do is to identify how many onsite days are necessary for your team to be able to perform optimally.
There are a lot of people right now clamoring for work-from-home or hybrid work setups. It would be very hard for you to hire people who are willing to work on a full day work week onsite. It’s even harder when you’re looking for someone with competence, skill, and experience—these people would want at least a hybrid work setup. So, for now, at least, it makes sense for a business owner or leader to have a hybrid work setup.
If you do decide that there are X number of days that we are going to be working onsite, X number of days we’re going to be working from home, you now have to make sure that your face-to-face onsite days don’t suck.
You have to make sure that these days are going to be desirable. They’re excited for your people to go to the office and see each other. You have to have meetings that also don’t suck.
Your meetings have to be enjoyable, meaningful, engaging, and snappy. It is your job. It is incumbent upon you to do that.
Because if people dread going to the office, they’re not going to go to the office. And sooner or later you might find that people would resign because you’re making them go to the office and work in such a boring and dreadful way.
Next, when it comes to your work-from-home days, you have to make sure to guard these times with high accountability.
You see, not everyone can work from home in such a disciplined and accountable manner. Some people would work from home and they would be less efficient. They would be a lot less disciplined. They would not be accountable, and you might end up paying them for nothing.
So you have to make sure that you have systems in place to guard and protect those work-from-home days.
At SEO Hacker we use Hubstaff, owned by Dave Nevogt, a good friend from the US.
Hubstaff is what allows us to monitor where people are going as they are working, which URLs, what applications, what websites are they visiting, how long are they staying there, and what are they doing there.
It takes three screenshots in 10 minutes. It’s not so invasive. If you would count, 10 minutes is 600 seconds. You’re just taking three screenshots out of those seconds. So if you’re given screenshots that are dubious, there’s a high chance that they’ve been staying in that web page or application far too long and you’d be able to decide now with your intuition as the leader on what’s happening.
This allows us to have really good, productive work-from-home days with everyone on our team. Another way to make the most out of your hybrid work setup is to be strategic about when your work-from-home dates will be.
There’s a reason why our work-from-home days are Mondays and Fridays. It’s because doing this makes it seem like we have long weekends since our people would be staying on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
So what happens is people are pumped to go back to the office and spend Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday working with each other, collaborating, and having fun with each other in our meetings in the office.
This also allows us to maximize rest because when you’re at home, you’re a lot less stressed, you are a lot more rested and you have more peace. Yes, collaboration is lower and slower, but people who have a high level of discipline, responsibility, and accountability are oftentimes more productive when they’re working from home.
With that said, when you’re adjusting to make the most of your hybrid work setup, you also need to screen and hire more carefully. You have to make sure that the people you hire can work from home with a high amount of discipline, responsibility, and accountability.
And yes, you can gauge this in the hiring process. Just ask the right questions such as: What do you do in your spare time? What do you do when no one is looking? You can create a scenario or you can ask them: What would your friends say about you that you need to improve about yourself?
These kinds of questions help you to identify, is this the right person you want on your team, especially when we’re running a hybrid work setup and they’re going to be allowed to work from home and have less accountability because there’s no one there at their house but themselves and their families.
And it will help you have more peace of mind and sleep well at night when you hire the right people who can work from home very well. Stemming from that, you should also identify people who cannot work from home well, and you may need to part ways with them. You may need to let them go.
Because if they can’t work well from home, other team members would know and get wind of it. And you have to honor people who work well from home by letting go of people who can’t honor their jobs, who can’t respect their work because they can’t work from home well.
They lose their discipline. They’re not accountable. They’re not as responsible. They miss deadlines. These are things that would waste a lot of time for you as the leader and business owner, because you need to keep checking on these people.
Remember, you hire people to help grow your business, not to take more time from you as the business owner, so you need to keep checking on them, and setting the right rules and systems in place for them.