There’s no denying the impact of the pandemic in the workplace forced many of us to rethink our current work models. Even with many employees already working remotely, our Randstad headquarters in the Netherlands had to transition into a full remote work model. 

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When our offices began to reopen, it became clear that a hybrid work model was the preferred arrangement among our employees. This desire for greater flexibility aligns with the results of our Workmonitor survey. This research shows that one in three employees believe a hybrid work model to be the most ideal working arrangement. Furthermore, nearly one in four employees want flexible work hours.  

At this point, we began the journey of building a hybrid workplace that aligns with our company culture and allows our employees to be at their best. Here’s a look at the things we have learned so far. 

center on employee’s best self

As an HR leader at Randstad, I focus on creating a workplace that allows all employees to be their best selves. This core principle is intertwined with our company culture and belief that if we are all at our best, this contributes to the satisfaction of clients, candidates and employees.

Throughout the pandemic, we maintained a strong focus on ‘best self’ and continued to do so as we transitioned to a hybrid model. We realized that this process wouldn’t happen overnight and it’s not something we would be able to do without first gaining input from our employees.

Once we better understood our employees’ needs, we were in a place where we could take steps to create an environment where they could be their best selves, whether working from home or at the office.

For example, we adjusted our compensation package to include additional benefits, such as reimbursement for home office supplies, allowance for home internet costs and discount prices on wellness products, to alleviate some of the pressures of working from home.

As important as the principle of ‘best self’ is, it’s only effective when the individual employees’ needs align with the team and the results we want to deliver as an organization. So, it’s when the combination of best self, best team and best results are in alignment that makes the difference.

Our employee surveys consistently reveal a strong preference for remote work opportunities. Notably, there's a distinct disparity in the home/office balance between headquarters and operations. Operational staff predominantly work from the office, whereas headquarters personnel favor remote work arrangements.


a work schedule built around choice

As an organization that firmly believes people should be at the steering wheel of their own careers and their own vitality, we feel that a tailor-made approach works best. As such, we encourage each employee to think about their specific role and to determine what responsibilities they must handle at the office and what duties they can continue doing remotely. Employees must also be understanding of the needs of their teams and the organization.

Additionally, at the outset we focused on developing guidelines for our managers. These guidelines aim to assist them in conducting discussions with their teams, supplementing their routine one-on-one meetings and performance check-ins. Through these conversations, they can agree on a schedule that allows each employee to be their best self while also making sure the team can work at peak performance too.

Moreover, it's crucial to foster meaningful dialogues not only between managers and team members but also within the teams themselves. This ensures a good balance between collaborative efforts and individual contributions.

(over) communicate

The need for consistent communication was even more crucial as we headed back into the workplace. The pandemic generated a lot of stress among workers and many expressed anxiety about what the future of work would look like. We found that the best way to help alleviate some of this stress was to keep our employees as informed as possible. 

Since creating a hybrid model is still an ongoing process, it can be difficult at times to provide clear communication. I had to learn that it’s OK to not have all the answers. The key factor is to stay close to your people and provide the best guidance possible at the time — even if that means saying, ‘We’re still working on that.’

technology is a must

Hybrid work is not possible without the right technology in place. Fortunately, we did very well when it came to technology. Within just a few weeks, our digital factory was able to create a digital planning tool to meet our hybrid work needs. However, post-COVID this workplace app has become more or less redundant.

What we've observed is that Tuesdays and Thursdays are busy office days, yet employees manage arrangements amongst themselves, resulting in minimal bottlenecks regarding workspace or meeting areas. Teams have established effective agreements: delineating when in-person interaction is necessary and seamlessly transitioning to digital solutions for the rest. Digital collaboration tools like Google Meet have become integral to our workflow.

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the importance of touch

Prior to the pandemic, touch moments were a natural part of daily life at the office. We were likely to bump into colleagues just walking down the hallway, have lunch in the company restaurant and hold impromptu meetings at the office or travel to another subsidiary of Randstad.

Today, there is a stark difference. Instead, we must make a conscious effort to stay connected and to create touch moments with our colleagues. These touch moments shouldn’t be all business, but also include low-key, fun ways for colleagues to interact.

Soon, we are going to nudge our employees to prompt more touch moments with co-workers all over the world. We will ask two employees to connect, both from a personal and business perspective. Based on that conversation, each employee recommends a colleague that the other one should connect with next. This process continues after each meeting to create a chain of touch moments.

redesign for a hybrid workplace

We realized that we would have to transform our office space to meet the new demands of a hybrid model. As we ask our employees to think about where they can do what tasks best, we expect they will use their home office to handle tasks that require uninterrupted concentration, such as completing a presentation and the Randstad office to connect and collaborate.

With this in mind, we have created multiple spots on each floor for collaboration as well as specific areas with screens and whiteboards for teams to work on projects. Employees also have access to the company restaurant for meetups. Of course, we’ve kept plenty of individual workstations for our employees to use in-between meetings.

This new office design also helps to strengthen our company culture by creating a space for facilitating touch moments.

experiment – learn – adjust

With the pandemic still ongoing, governmental guidelines are changing regularly, not just here in the Netherlands, but across the globe. I found that we just have to accept the fact that there is a lot of uncertainty. Due to this factor, we need to remain agile enough to adapt quickly and effectively.

Creating a hybrid workplace is not going to happen overnight. Rather, it’s an ongoing process and will be for some time to come. It’s ok to have a period where things are less clear if we are working towards developing the optimal work model.

To make this a reality, we must experiment with different formats, bring the team back together to discuss what worked and what didn’t and adjust if necessary. This process gives us room to grow and time to build a hybrid workplace where best self, best team and best results are in alignment.


This is an updated version of an article originally published on 12 January 2022. 

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about the author

sofie maervoet

vp global concepts staffing

Sofie is one of the staffing leaders in Randstad with a track record in process optimization, training and coaching. She started her career as a staffing consultant in Randstad Belgium in 2002. Later, she joined the team in Randstad Switzerland as concept manager until she joined the global concept development team in 2018.

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