In 2020, many businesses were forced to keep employees at their homes instead of coming into the office to work. Some companies were able to help employees work from home, engaging, often for the first time, in remote work. That helped them get through the pandemic until employees could come back. Yet, for some companies, remote work continues to be the desired solution. Robert McKenna Attorney has done just that. A medical malpractice attorney, Robert McKenna III, is successfully managing a hybrid work office.
Robert Mckenna, attorney, is a partner at Kjar, McKenna & Stockalper, LLP in Huntington Beach, California. With both state and federal court trial experience, he has practiced since 1993. He shares how he’s making hybrid office work so other companies can benefit as well.
What Is a Hybrid Work Office?
A hybrid office is one in which much of the work is done at home though in-person meetings and activities also take place. It is a combination of in-person and remote opportunities, allowing employees more freedom than the traditional method of commuting to work each day. Employees come into the office for a portion of the work week and telecommute the remaining days. It makes employees happy, but for Attorney Robert McKenna, it has been a tricky process, as it has for so many other companies who’ve tried to make the switch.
McKenna has worked to modify and manage the hybrid work office carefully, developing new strategies for handling complex problems and limitations.
How to Make the Hybrid Work Office Work According to Robert McKenna Attorney
The transition to a hybrid office is not a simple one for many organizations and takes some learning and flexibility. Over the period of his office’s transition, McKenna found a few things were key to his success.
Inventorying business processes
One of the first things he recommends is inventorying business processes. Look at what happens in the office – which routines have to happen in person? What tasks can employees do from home? He says, “I spent two or three weeks looking at the business to determine what needs to be done in person. I realized all we needed was one person in each office to pick up the mail, scan it, and send it off to whoever needs it. We also needed the same person or a different person to come back in the afternoon to print, address, and send outgoing mail for that day.”
Creating a schedule that works for your organization
Another important factor in creating a hybrid office is recognizing how often your employees need to come to work and whether everyone should be in the office on the same days or not. McKenna decided that having his administrative team in the office two days each week worked well. He created a plan within his team to determine which employees would come into the office each day.
There’s ample flexibility here. Some companies need employees in the office three days a week, and some may need everyone there at the same time. In a hybrid environment, the amount of flexibility you offer is up to your goals. For example, it is possible to allow employees to come and go as they need to as well without a strict schedule.
Set employees up for success
The next important part of designing a hybrid work environment is to provide the necessary supplies to ensure each employee can be successful. Since employees will be working remotely for at least a portion of the week, you need to be sure they have all the necessary supplies to do so, including any equipment necessary to do their job. Consider questions like these:
- Is there an internet connection available that’s reliable?
- Do they need special access to cloud-based files and programs?
- Does the team need any special equipment beyond a laptop or computer?
- Is there a supporting and comfortable desk and chair available to them?
- Does the employee have the flexibility to work where they want, even changing locations if desired?
In a cloud-based business, this is far easier to do than if a legal team needs to access paper files. Yet, since many companies have moved to a cloud-based system, hybrid work environments like this can be very effective and accessible.
Build productivity into the workspaces
Employees working from home are still doing just that – working. That means they need to have a dedicated space where they can manage the tasks of their home. Focusing on creating a productive workspace at home is important for all companies. After providing the necessary supplies, employers need to come back and ask what else is needed or what changes could be helpful to improve productivity.
Business owners and leaders need to do the same thing for themselves. Ensure there’s a specific space within the home that allows for the most productivity possible. Sitting in the living room with the TV on does not work.
He also recommends not setting up your office in a bedroom, stating it is very important to have some level of separation between work and home. A separate space will help to improve overall motivation, focus, and productivity because it feels like it is designed for work.
Not only is the location important, but it is also essential to create routines that differ on workdays and not. That helps to create more separation for the business. McKenna states, “Whatever you do on the weekend, don’t do [that] during the week while you’re working. Create a separate routine, even if it’s putting on a different kind of shirt or just showering and shaving when you wake up.”
Establish well-defined boundaries for your business
One of the core components of a successful hybrid office is being able to separate work and home. Creating healthy boundaries is a necessary step in that process. It is not uncommon for employees to find themselves working longer hours because they are at home, which isn’t ideal because it causes burnout.
To remedy this situation, McKenna recommends creating flexible boundaries that work for the company and the employee. One important boundary to expect (and respect) is the limitation on access to communication. In a hybrid office, it is easy to find yourself demanding nearly instant access to employees, no matter when you email or call. Yet, that’s not ideal. McKenna offers, “People say, ‘I know you’re on vacation, but we have a virtual conference. Can you do that? You have internet.’ And the turnaround time people expect on text messages and emails has dramatically shrunk. People want instantaneous reassurance that you’re available to respond at any time.”
That type of demand for immediate access puts people at risk. They become tired and overworked, which can increase the risk of turnover. Instead, make it a policy that employees log out of their computer system, and once they are gone for the day, they don’t have to be immediately accessible. At the same time, create routines, such as requiring employees to check email before the end of the day (or at another set time) to ensure they are in communication enough.
While the company needs to create these boundaries, individuals have to be responsible in their effort, too. They need to refrain from answering texts or emails during off time, even if a quick answer is possible. Creating timeframes for expectations can help to keep that separation more clearly defined.
How to Make the Hybrid Work Environment Work
Making the switch to a hybrid work environment offers lots of benefits for employees and companies themselves, but it takes some time to get just right. Employees and employers need to be on the same page throughout the process, with strong communication about expectations, limitations, and needs. There’s also no one solution that works perfectly for all companies. Work to establish clear policies and plans that work for your specific employees and work environment.
As business leaders, he also recommends that owners and managers set the example in each of these areas. When they are working from home, they have a designated space, separation of private left and work environment, and clear expectations on communications and connectivity. Being aggressive about these areas helps to ensure the hybrid environment works, but also helps to ensure enough productivity and balance that burnout does not happen for every person involved in the process.