12 Easy Ways to Polish Your Hybrid Manners
Having a hybrid work environment means adapting our etiquette to ensure that all team members feel valued, included, and productive. Here are some of our recommendations on what you might want to include in your hybrid work handbook.
Make sure everyone knows who's working from the office or working from home. This ensures that coworkers who need to coordinate can plan their meetings and activities accordingly. Sign up for Hybrid Hero now to start sharing whether you plan to work from home or from the office.
It's important that everyone understands the rules. Senior leaders and managers need to be explicit on what the expectations are. Don’t be vague or use overly complicated language. Keep it simple, straightforward, and provide support if your team has questions. Check out our Hybrid Work HR Policy template.
Set clear expectations with your team on what they can and cannot use as backgrounds during video calls. We recommend banning any explicit or objectionable content plus providing some guidance on how much "fun" team members can have with their backgrounds. Many companies leave this pretty flexible and simply provide guidelines for meetings where external parties are invited.
Just because your team may be working remotely doesn't mean you should not discuss dress code expectations. Most companies have relaxed their dress code expectations for virtual meetings. But it’s still something you should be explicit about with your team. We recommend a "dress for your day" approach where you empower your team to make dress code decisions for themselves based on who they have meetings with (ie - perhaps they'll wear a polo/blouse for internal meetings but put on a blazer for client meetings).
In the invite of each meeting the host / organizer should specify what the expectations are regarding use of cameras, multitasking, and microphone. For example, for a small meeting of 4-5 people the organizer may ask that everyone have their cameras on and not multi-task. For an all-hands meeting the request might be to only have the camera on when you're speaking and to otherwise keep the microphone muted. It's also helpful to go over this housekeeping at the start of your meeting.
How fast do you expect your team to respond to different types of communication? Set up some norms with your team on how fast they need to reply to an email, Slack/Teams mention, text message, voicemail, etc. For example, you may expect your team to reply to a text message within 1 business hour while 1 business day for an email is acceptable. Make sure that you set the expectations in line with the typical urgency of each type of communication method (text messages are usually more urgent than email).
My team knows that if there is something urgent and I'm not online they should text me on my personal cell. However, if I am not online and it can wait until the next day they know to just shoot me over an e-mail.
Require that a meeting organizer send out an agenda ahead of time. This gives people time to prepare and ensures that meetings only take place if they are really needed.
Create an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up, even if they aren't physically in the room. Assign someone to monitor the meeting chat and check in to see if remote attendees have anything they want to contribute.
Be aware of others' working hours and time zones when scheduling meetings or trying to get in contact with them. While this has been true for traditional working models in the past it is even more important in a hybrid setting where coworkers may be more geographically spread out.
People working from home should not be penalized if there was not an explicit requirement for them to be available in person. People can be penalized directly or indirectly. An example of someone being penalized indirectly is if the conversation continues after the meeting has officially ended. Direct penalization could look like a manager giving a lower evaluation to an employee because they aren't as aware of what they are working on day-to-day. It's important that managers and meeting hosts are aware of any implicit bias they may have against remote workers (intentional or not).
When employees work in the office it's natural for them to socialize in the break room, a common space, or during lunch. When possible, employees should avoid having substantive business discussions during these unscheduled interactions. If such conversations do take place the rest of the team should be brought up to speed on what was discussed.
Operate with a generosity of spirit and assume positive intent. This is always good advice to follow but as people adjust to hybrid work there will inevitably be mistakes that are made. Someone will schedule a meeting outside your working hours. Another person will have trouble with their camera or microphone. And yet someone else is going to have their kids playing in the same room they are working in. It's important to remember that there are probably valid reasons why this is happening and it wasn't to intentionally interfere with productivity.
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