Should Attendance be Required in the Hybrid Workplace?

Sophia Lee
July 13, 2021

As companies begin to implement their return to work strategies, it’s clear that the hybrid workplace model has emerged as a popular option—and it’s no surprise why. This approach gives employees, who have now experienced both the remote and in-office setup, the flexibility to participate in an approach that better aligns with their lifestyle and work preferences. 

While the hybrid workplace offers many benefits, organizations that switch to this model face a unique set of challenges—from adapting their existing HR processes to managing their culture across multiple physical and virtual locations. The issue we’re going to focus on in this blog post is the topic of attendance in a hybrid company

How should you approach attendance in a hybrid workplace?

A hybrid workplace is defined as a company that provides employees with the opportunity to work from the office or from home. While every hybrid setup will vary, it’s essential to establish clear expectations for the arrangement to be successful.

Attendance is one of the areas where expectations need to be communicated with employees. Are they required to be in the office, or can they choose to come in as frequently or as infrequently as they want? If attendance is mandatory, how many times a week do they have to show up in person? 

We recently hosted a webinar to understand how other companies are handling these questions. When we surveyed the attendees, we discovered that 61.6% of organizations aren’t going to require in-office attendance during the week, while 38.3% are. This sentiment may change over time as concerns about COVID-19 diminish and HR leaders feel more comfortable requiring their teams to be back in the office. 

This gives us a snapshot of how certain companies are currently thinking about the return to work, but there are many factors to consider when implementing a new attendance policy in a hybrid company

Choosing the best attendance policy for your hybrid workplace

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing an attendance policy for your hybrid team. Following these best practices can help you design an approach that makes sense for your company’s specific needs. 

1. Ask yourself the right questions

There are a few questions you need to address to determine the best attendance policy for your organization: 

What do our employees want? 

Consider your employees’ preferences when it comes to your attendance policy. A recent survey we conducted found that 85% of employees are looking forward to making a partial return to the office. While this is compelling data, it’s always a good practice to see if this sentiment aligns with your workforce as well—rather than making assumptions. We encourage companies to collect feedback through an anonymous survey, which can inform your decision-making process. 

Should attendance vary by team or role? 

You also want to consider whether it’s more important for certain teams or individuals to be in the office. For instance, you may want managers to be at the office more frequently to build stronger relationships with direct reports who want in-person support. Similarly, you may prefer to have the sales team in the office for important meetings with prospects. Think through these varying expectations while crafting your policy. 

Are we taking location into account?

Tailor the attendance policy to your specific office location. Let’s say that you have an office in San Francisco and know that many of your employees live in the city. In this situation, having one to two days of mandatory attendance can be a great way to have those team members build rapport. For employees who live outside of the city, you can introduce a more remote-focused policy. 

2. Consider the logistics

Logistics are also a crucial consideration. Whether you require employees to come in three times a week or allow them the flexibility to drop in when they choose, you have to create the appropriate plans, policies, and processes in advance. 

The first thing you want to confirm is whether a specific office location has enough space to accommodate the employees in that area. If you’re working with a smaller space, it may be helpful to plan for staggered attendance days or “A/B days,” as this policy is increasingly called. You also want to think through how to manage seating arrangements. Some offices may have dedicated desks for every employee, while others may prefer a shared desk situation. If you’re considering the latter, look into desk booking software to make the reservation process as seamless as possible.  

3. Think through the long-term impact

Regardless of what you decide, be prepared for the long-term impact. For instance, you may want to think through the impact of having a growing, evolving team. If key team members move further away from your office, a mandatory attendance policy may not be the best fit for the local team. But if your local team grows larger than your allotted space, it may make sense to transition to a staggered or A/B day arrangement.

Also, keep in mind that if you choose not to make attendance mandatory, your employees may be disappointed since they’re not guaranteed to see their friends and team members face-to-face. After spending over a year in isolation, many people are craving in-person connections and are looking forward to rebuilding their relationships with colleagues at the office. Our survey found that 52% of office workers report socializing with colleagues as their top reason for wanting to return to the office. Without guidance from your company, people may find it difficult to coordinate attendance on their own.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to make everyone happy. So the best you can do is make a decision based on what you feel is best for the majority of your business and team. Also, be transparent throughout the process and communicate your plan with your employees, so they’re not caught off guard when the attendance policy is announced—this also allows you to collect their feedback and make adjustments to your plan along the way.

Find an attendance policy that works for your hybrid team

While there are still many things to figure out as we navigate the hybrid world of work, getting clear on expectations around attendance is a great first step. No matter which approach you decide to take, your team will benefit from the innovative nature of a hybrid workplace model.