The Future is Flexible: Creating a Hybrid Work Model that Works for Your Team

Actionable tips for people leaders on creating successful hybrid work models.

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically shifted traditional notions of the workplace, accelerating the adoption of remote and hybrid work models. While some companies are urging employees back to the office full-time, many are embracing a more flexible future. Recent surveys show that most knowledge workers want location flexibility and expect to split their time between home and the office.

Invest in Your Remote Readiness

As a people leader or HR professional, how do you design an effective hybrid model? One that meets your business goals while maximizing employee engagement, collaboration and productivity? The best way to start is by investing in your team's remote readiness.

Our Distributed Work Audit provides a 360-degree analysis of your current hybrid or remote work practices, policies and technology. After surveying your distributed workforce, it delivers a custom diagnostic report with personalized recommendations to enhance your team’s remote work experience.

The Distributed Work Audit examines factors like:

  • Leadership & Management
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Company Culture
  • HR Policies
  • Technology & Security

Take the free assessment to uncover problem areas and receive actionable improvement strategies. Investing in remote readiness ultimately allows you to maximize engagement, productivity and competitive advantage.

Table of Contents

  • Why Companies Are Adopting Hybrid Work
  • Designing Your Hybrid Work Policy
  • Locations
  • Schedules
  • Eligibility
  • Expectations
  • On-Site Protocols
  • Avoiding the Pitfalls of Hybrid Work
  • Proximity Bias
  • 'Out of Sight, Out of Mind'
  • Two-Tier Culture
  • Burnout
  • Tips for Leading a Successful Hybrid Team
  • Assessing Your Remote Readiness

Why Companies Are Adopting Hybrid Work

The benefits of enabling location flexibility are compelling:

  • Access to talent. You can hire the best people regardless of geography. No longer limited by commuting distance or relocation willingness. This means you have a global pool of skilled, diverse talent at your fingertips.
  • Cost savings. Potential to reduce real estate footprint and overhead costs. Commercial office spaces are expensive, so downsizing square footage can lead to major savings. There are also reductions in utility bills, supplies, and amenity services. Employees likewise save on commuting time and expenses.
  • Productivity. Studies show remote workers can be just as, if not more productive than those in the office full-time. Working from home removes the distractions and disruptions inherent with commuting and being in a bustling office. Employees can better focus in their own spaces.
  • Engagement. Employees appreciate the autonomy and trust. Giving staff flexibility demonstrates you value their needs and respect their ability to manage their workload. This leads to greater job satisfaction as people find the right balance between work and personal life.
  • Inclusion. Location-agnostic policies can increase diversity and create equal opportunities. Remote work accommodates people across locations, abilities, needs and circumstances. It removes unconscious bias that can arise when policies favor those able to work on-site full time.
  • Business continuity. Having a productive remote setup enhances resilience. It makes it easier for the organization to operate amid disruptions like weather events, pandemics, or other scenarios where physical offices may be inaccessible. There is less business risk when operations can continue digitally.

While each company's hybrid model will differ based on their specific needs, most find a balance of in-person and virtual collaboration provides the best of both worlds. Thoughtful hybrid policies allow organizations to reduce expenses, widen their talent pool, keep employees engaged, empower inclusion, and build business agility.

Designing Your Hybrid Work Policy

When structuring your hybrid work policy, focus on flexibility while ensuring consistency, transparency and fairness. Consider these elements:


  • Where will work be performed? Will you allow a mix of home offices, satellite offices, HQ and third-space coworking locations?
  • Will you place any restrictions on approved work locations, like requiring home offices to be within a certain commuting radius of a central hub office?
  • How will you handle situations like employees relocating or needing to work from multiple locations throughout the year? What compliance, tax and payroll considerations come into play?


  • How many days per week or month will employees be expected in the office for in-person collaboration, meetings, events, etc?
  • Will the required office days be fixed (e.g. every Monday/Tuesday) or can they fluctuate based on business needs and employee requests?
  • During which core hours, if any, should employees be expected to be available for virtual meetings, phone calls, or other collaborative work? Are there exceptions for those in vastly different time zones?
  • How far in advance will employees need to submit their proposed remote/in-office schedule for manager approval?
  • Can individual schedules change over time based on team, role, project stage, and personal needs? Is there a process for employees to request modifications?


  • Which employees or roles will be eligible for the hybrid work program? Will eligibility vary based on seniority, function, performance metrics, or tenure?
  • How will you evaluate special cases or exception requests? What accommodations can be made for working caregivers, those with long commutes, or employees with disabilities?
  • Is a hybrid schedule guaranteed provided eligibility criteria are met? Or at manager discretion? Make sure the approval process is outlined.


  • What are the technology requirements and etiquette standards? Will cameras need to be on for certain meetings? How should teams communicate when working remotely - chat, email, calls?
  • How often should team check-ins or 1:1 meetings occur in a hybrid setting? Are there recommendations on cadence based on tenure or role?
  • Are there specific expectations around documentation, collaboration platforms, visibility, key results areas, or development opportunities? The more parity between in-office and remote experiences, the better.

On-Site Protocols

  • What are the facility guidelines around masking, social distancing, desk reservations, room capacities, and catering?
  • How far in advance must employees schedule their on-site attendance days/hours given limited desk availability?
  • Will impromptu office pop-ins be allowed or actively discouraged?
  • What about access to other on-site resources like printers, supplies, reference materials, or amenities? Can these be made universally available through shipment, digitization or virtual access?

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Hybrid Work

Hybrid models introduce new complexity and can amplify inequities if not managed carefully. Be proactive addressing these potential issues:

Proximity Bias

  • Risk: Leaders may unconsciously favor or advocate for team members they see in-person more regularly. This causes a perception of inequitable opportunities, advocation and information access between remote and in-office staff.
  • Solution: Train managers on inclusive leadership, emphasizing the need to be hyper-aware of proximity bias. Audit decisions, promotions, projects, etc. for signs of inequity. Proactively gather feedback from remote workers. Maintain visibility through check-ins and asynchronous communication.

'Out of Sight, Out of Mind'

  • Risk: Due to lack of passive visibility, remote workers may feel excluded from key decisions, information sharing, water cooler discussions, and informal interactions that naturally happen in offices. Absence can lead to lack of inclusion.
  • Solution: Overcommunicate context that would normally be picked up through office osmosis. Check time zones when scheduling meetings to rotate inconvenience. In meetings, directly spotlight remote participants for opinions. Gather input through asynchronous channels like surveys and docs.

Two-Tier Culture

  • Risk: Remote employees may feel like 'second class citizens' if the prevailing company culture becomes office-centric. From happy hours to swag to promotions, they may sense a disconnect.
  • Solution: Make remote employees feel included through intentional initiatives. Plan virtual social events, send care packages, invest in video tools with AR. Rotate office attendance so everyone experiences both. Ensure remote workers have equivalent tech, resources and development opportunities.


  • Risk: Without the natural work-life boundaries of a commute, remote employees may feel pressure to be always reachable, responsive and 'on'. The risk of burnout escalates.
  • Solution: Set core team collaboration hours and discourage after-hours work. Managers should monitor capacity and reiterate remote workers' right to disconnect outside designated hours. Watch for signs of burnout.

Tips for Leading a Successful Hybrid Team

People leaders play an instrumental role making hybrid work effective. Here are research-backed strategies:

1. Set Clear Guidelines

  • Establish team agreements addressing communication norms, meetings, availability expectations and more.
  • Regularly discuss pain points in team meetings and fine-tune your guidelines. Be willing to iterate as challenges emerge.

2. Maintain Visibility

  • In 1:1s and team meetings, check in on remote workers' workload, stress levels, job satisfaction and personal challenges. Ask for candid feedback on your leadership.
  • When remote team members dial into meetings, spotlight them for opinions to demonstrate inclusion. Gather input through asynchronous channels like Slack polls or documents to level the playing field.

3. Flex Your Leadership Style

  • Lead hybrid teams through influence and empowerment, not proximity. Grant remote workers autonomy while providing coaching and developmental support.
  • Adjust your level of directiveness based on reports' needs. Give more structure to junior members, less to experienced professionals. Make it about their growth.

4. Overcommunicate Context

  • Summarize key decisions, company announcements, project status and team changes to remote workers. Don't assume they have the context from office pop-ins.
  • Give remote workers visibility into what happens and what they miss when offline. Share notes, recordings or summaries of in-person activities.

5. Invest in Relationships

  • Make 1:1s meaningful. Have regular video calls to foster human connection, get to know remote reports as people.
  • Organize virtual coffee breaks, off-sites, trivia and social events. Send care packages or handwritten notes to remote workers.

6. Embrace Asynchronous Communication

  • Limit unnecessary real-time meetings. Default to chat, email, documents for updates and alignment.
  • Ensure awareness of time zone impacts when scheduling necessary collaboration. Accommodate remote workers.
  • Establish norms like response time expectations and after-hours communication policies. Document in team guidelines.

Assessing Your Remote Readiness

Transitioning to hybrid or refining an existing policy requires intention, investment and change management. Before rolling out new guidelines, gauge your remote readiness.

Our Distributed Work Audit is an AI-powered tool that provides a 360-degree analysis of your current hybrid or remote work practices, policies and technology. After surveying employees across roles and locations, it delivers a custom diagnostic report with personalized recommendations to enhance your team’s distributed work experience.

The Distributed Work Audit examines factors like:

  • Leadership & Management
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Company Culture
  • HR Policies
  • Technology & Security

Take the free assessment to uncover problem areas and receive actionable improvement strategies. Investing in remote readiness ultimately allows you to maximize engagement, productivity and competitive advantage.

The Future is Flexible

Hybrid models enable the best of both worlds—human connection and location flexibility. They present enormous potential alongside new complexities. But by grounding policies in empathy, inclusion and transparency, you can unlock the benefits for both your business and people. The future of work is undoubtedly more flexible. Your leadership can help shape it into a more equitable and enriching experience for all.

Take Our Free Assessment to Benchmark Your Remote Readiness

Are you looking to create or refine a hybrid work program? The best first step is to benchmark your current remote readiness.

Our AI-powered Distributed Work Audit surveys your distributed workforce and delivers a personalized diagnostic report. Uncover gaps in:

  • Leadership & Management Techniques
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Company Culture & Engagement
  • And More

Take the free assessment and get proven recommendations to guide your hybrid work strategy. Invest in your people and unlock sustainable advantage.

About the Author

Iwo is the Co-Founder of Remote-how, the world's leading platform for remote professionals powered by and for the community of 25,000+ people from 128 countries.

About Remote-First Institute

The Remote-First Institute provides expertise and knowledge about remote-first work through research, events, training and consulting.

Learn more at Remote-First Institute.

Iwo Szapar

Iwo Szapar

Remote-First Advocate & Book Author

🚀 Remote-First Advocate & Book Author // Since 2017, shaping the future of remote & hybrid work as the CEO of Remote-how

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