Doing Hybrid Right

“All experts agree. The ideal combination is two days at home and three days at the office.”


Oh now really?


The research used to justify this statement is from Professor Nicholas Bloom. What no one tells us is that this particular research dates from 2014. And that is done in China. With call centre employees.


Are we going to carry on gaping at a study that is 7 years old, from a period where the digital workplace was still in its infancy?


In many organisations the urge to regulate seems to prevail. There is an obvious lack of vision. And if there is a vision, there is not a word to be found about the customer, who seems to be missing in the story.


Not so at the Belgian organisation, DELA.


Hybrid Work regulated by strict rules, is doomed to die even before it is born.

In the text below, you find some parts of their home working policy, the result of a close dialogue between employees and management.


Read and discover how

  • Hybrid Work is not regulated by strict rules;

  • Hybrid is defined as a compelling vision of the future where clients and employees play a crucial role;

  • Hybrid is defined as a way to shape a result- and people-driven work environment.


DELA’s home working policy


(…)

Covid-19 made clear DELA’s employees are in favour of working from home. At the same time, there is a clear wish to carry on seeing each other and maintain our warm family culture. We also found that more home working does not affect the quality of work.


(…)


Even before corona, DELA was an organisation that worked on a foundation of trust. Trust remains very important and we combine this with a clear focus on output. We believe wellbeing and result orientation go hand in hand.


It is important to know that we each have our responsibility to ensure that this home working policy is successfully implemented.


  • As an organisation, it is DELA’s duty to take the necessary measures to ensure that its employees can carry out their work in a comfortable and effective way.

  • Managers have the duty to direct, coach and guide their people – based on attention and connection – in a people- and result-driven way. DELA will invest in the growth of its management.

  • The employee has the responsibility to make sure that s/he sets up a comfortable workplace, carries out his/her work in a correct manner, and contributes to the warm family culture, with what DELA hereby provides and following his/her manager’s guidelines.

This policy will contribute the realisation of all these expectations.


General


Maybe the term ‘home working’ does not cover the whole picture: you may as well work from other places like a funeral home, an external office space…


1. Who is allowed to work from home?


Not every function can be carried out from home. The following functions are allowed to work from home structurally:


- all functions in Insurances, except for HQ reception.

- all functions with supporting services (FINC, IT, Corporate Com., Mgmt. Assist., HR).

- the following functions or departments within Funerals: FOM, Repat, NBZ, Business Development.


2. Guaranteeing freedom of choice


‘One size fits all’ is old hat. We consider our employees to be people with each their own needs and desires. We regard them as adult people who can judge and deliberate for themselves. Hence no uniform guidelines such as “everyone in the office 2 days a week”. The employee takes the responsibility to go about his/her freedom in a mature way.


After consulting the team and with the manager’s permission, you – the employee – will choose when you work from home. You will then pay attention to a few conditions:


  • You can work from home with the consent of your team and manager. This guarantees operations to run smoothly.

  • If required by your work, you will be present at another location, depending on operational needs (team meetings, project meetings). Home working is therefore a privilege, not a right.

  • You dispose of a comfortable workplace at home where you cannot be distracted. Home working is not a synonym for, for instance, looking after the children.

  • Just as in the office, at home you are available during office hours or according to the agreements made with your manager and team.


3. Keeping our DELA DNA and our warm family atmosphere


Our company culture is extremely important. Within the organisation of home working, we wish to do the necessary so as not to lose the connection with each other and the organisation. We absolutely want people to carry on seeing each other and take a structural approach for this. As mentioned in point 2, the manager or the employee can take the initiative to be present with (part of) the team at HQ or another location.


We call upon everyone to take these kinds of initiatives on a regular basis. A guiding element could be that you agree to meet up with the team physically at least once a month, besides other meetings with colleagues from other departments. And that you organise a virtual coffee break with the team once a week.


4. Making clear arrangements


Even within the new home working policy, it is perfectly viable to be both people- and results-oriented. Clear agreements contribute to this:


- Setting up the workplace: DELA provides the means to comfortably set up the workplace. The employee then has a duty to do it.


- Organising work


o What needs to be done by when? (make expectations clear)

o Available during office hours or according to agreements made.

o No obligation to be available outside office hours. Make agreements for this.

o No obligation to work outside office hours.

o Email traffic: during office hours.

o Work outside of office hours when necessary: discuss and make agreements.


- Agreements about the duration and frequency of meetings; not too many agenda points; time for breaks; camera on.


5. Guaranteeing transparent home allowance and means


Whom does this apply to? The home working amenities listed below apply to anyone meeting the following criteria:


- Fixed employees who have been structurally working from home since 1/01/2021.

- Employees who belong to Insurances or supporting services (FINC, IT, Corporate Com., Mgmt. Assist., HR), or work for the following functions and departments within Funeral: FOM, Repat, NBZ, Business Development.

- Those who do not receive more than EUR40/month for costs proper to the employer.


Which amenities does DELA offer?


a. ICT

- A computer screen (68.6 cm/27” wide)

- A keyboard

- A wireless mouse

- A USB 3.0 docking station


(...)


b. Office chair


Within the context of corporate social responsibility, the decision was taken to offer a comfortable refurbished office chair, type BMA AXIA 2.2 with “Amechaniek”.


An ergonomic office chair with a broad range of adjustment options, for which some parts have been reused to contribute to a sustainable and liveable world. Thanks to its user-friendly adjustability, the Axia 2.2. office chair can be used by anyone (see attached sheet). All Axia office chairs have a modular set-up and can therefore be easily adapted to length and weight. All delivered Axia office chairs are individually adjusted by the supplier itself upon home delivery.


Depending on the floor surface, the chair can be supplied with hard or soft wheels.


(...)



c. Home working allowance


The employee receives a net monthly allowance of EUR 40 for full-time employment. The allowance is prorated according to the timetable. This allowance allows the employee to work comfortably from home: with a good Wi-Fi connection, heating, stationery...


The employee is responsible for a healthy and safe working environment and informs the employer, the risk management advisor (psychosocial aspects) and/or the confidential advisor in good time when a problematic situation arises.


The home working allowance cannot be combined with a reimbursement of expenses specific to the employer for the same or higher amount.


6. Determining the role of HQ


There is a real chance that fewer colleagues will come to work at HQ. That is why it is necessary to think about the role of HQ. Taking points 2 and 3 into account, it is desirable that HQ remains a place to work and that, more than before, is complemented with a place for people to meet. We need to think about this carefully, for it will have an impact on layout and even on the parking policy.


This exercise will be carried out separately.


7. Digitalisation and safety


DELA foresees ICT amenities (see point 5). The employee is responsible for a correct use of these amenities and will handle them with care.


The original text dictates a number of guidelines regarding cyber security, the use of passwords, clean desk, social media and so on.


8. Ensuring ergonomics


Point 4 already refers to a few agreements. Even regarding the layout of the workplace. DELA supplies the means (ICT, office chair and allowance) for employees to set up their workplace comfortably. This reduces the risk of injuries. It is therefore also the employee’s duty to do the necessary for t