The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about numerous changes in our society, especially when it comes to working. At its height, government-imposed lockdowns forced many businesses to temporarily or permanently shut down, bringing the entire world to a standstill. This has challenged many companies to try out new working arrangements including remote work or the work-from-home setup which does not require employees to be on-site at their office buildings.
Since observing how their people have positively adapted to working from home, some companies have decided to continue with remote work. On the other hand, other companies are excited to return with many already implementing a hybrid office policy. A recent Gallup poll has even found that around 42% of surveyed employees are currently working on a hybrid schedule.
Regardless, it appears that the hybrid model will inevitably replace the traditional full-time office model, drastically altering how businesses manage operations, employees, and clients. This article will talk about this new normal, and how businesses can successfully transition from working remotely to hybrid work.
What is Hybrid Work?
Hybrid work is a flexible work model that supports a combination of in-office, remote, and on-the-go workers. To put it in another way, it is a flexible approach that allows employees to work in the office and from home which gives them the freedom to work wherever and however they are most productive.
The Benefits of Hybrid Work
Enhances Employee Experience and Wellbeing
Employees with hybrid jobs have more freedom in terms of where and how they work. This hybrid work setup gives employees a measure of autonomy that makes them feel trusted to complete tasks independently, without the oversight of a manager. As nobody likes being micromanaged, employees who work hybrid jobs enjoy the flexibility of being able to work effectively on their terms.
Boosts Employee Engagement and Productivity
A hybrid work setup allows for flexibility and a refreshing change of environment, which can lead to an increase in employee focus. This enables and empowers employees to balance their workloads, take ownership of projects, and focus more intently on their work, all of which increase productivity and the production of quality outputs.
Find out more about 6 ways to increase employee engagement.
Minimizes Operating Costs
Switching to a hybrid work setup can be beneficial if you’re looking to cut down on costs. Company real estate is an obvious example as businesses will need less physical space with fewer employees in the office. This setup will require less energy and resources which in turn will dramatically lower operating costs. Inversely, it also saves employees money by lowering their daily expenses such as commuting costs, which are unavoidable when working on-site.
Improves Employee Work-Life Balance
A healthy work-life balance is essential for an employee’s mental health. The traditional 9 to 5 office job denies employees mobility and gives them little room to maneuver, and relegates them to fixed tasks and routines which discourages creativity and thinking outside the box. Thankfully, a hybrid work setup encourages time alone with oneself, which gives the employee plenty of time to focus and recharge. Hybrid work allows employees the freedom to balance work and life in a way that works for them which reduces stress, alleviates burnout, and increases employee retention.
Challenges of Hybrid Work
1. Limited Interpersonal Relationships
In the traditional office model, people have the opportunity to build relationships and connect with their colleagues over time because of the frequency with which they interact with one another. From departmental meetings to watercooler conversations, employees develop bonds and foster teamwork that is crucial to keeping the company up and running. However, in a hybrid work arrangement, because they don’t see each other as often, employee relationships may not always be as strong, which can lead to employee isolation if the issue is not addressed.
2. Burnout from Overworking
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to get lost in your world without boundaries or external reminders of time passing by. Furthermore, employees may be concerned that their managers will think they are slacking off simply because they are not visible, so they may work extra hours to prove otherwise. This thinking can lead to overworking, which can result in burnout if left unchecked for too long.
3. Alignment and Communication Gaps
One of the key elements of having an effective and performant workforce is to ensure that your goals as a manager align with theirs. When it comes to hybrid work, however, this is much easier said than done, as disconnect and poor communication are likely to occur between employees who work in the office and those who work remotely. This lack of alignment can lead to miscommunication and frustration among all parties involved — especially if projects aren’t going according to plan.
4. Compromised Company Culture
One of the most obvious challenges of hybrid work is that employees who work remotely can be less invested in the company’s culture and values. A traditional office space brings people together in a physical location where they can interact, build relationships and share their experiences. Companies with a strong culture can leverage this advantage to attract and retain talent.
However, when employees are spread out across multiple locations or countries, it becomes more difficult for them to share their experiences. This can lead to an inconsistent employee experience that dilutes your company culture over time.
Discover how you can create a company culture that your employees will love.
Tips for Transitioning to the Hybrid Workplace
Have a Concrete Plan
Before rushing to implement a hybrid work model, managers should have a comprehensive transition strategy in place that takes into account every aspect of the operation. This plan should lay out the direction you want the company to take and determine which employees will work in-person or remotely. It should specify work-from-home policies, health protocols in the office, and other important details. Moreover, it should be clear, transparent, and shared with everyone in the organization to avoid confusion.
Create a Clear and Deliberate Communication Structure
When it comes to hybrid work, communication can make or break a company. It is especially a challenge when you have diverse and dispersed teams, which, as previously mentioned, can potentially lead to misalignment if not handled appropriately.
To make sure that all of your employees are on the same page, it is your primary responsibility as the company leader to connect everyone on your team. When a clear communication strategy is set, this will allow you to improve efficiency, speed, productivity, and overall performance quality.
Recognize Employee Needs and Preferences
A hybrid work arrangement completely shifts the dynamics of workplace collaboration. Therefore, managers must comprehend and be conscious of the drawbacks of physically separating employees. He or she should understand the nature of work and the preferences of each employee, as these factors contribute to the success of the transition to a hybrid work model.
Also, leaders must promote equal access and ensure that every employee’s voice is heard by establishing a feedback system and a space/forum for presenting ideas to decision-makers.
Establish and Communicate Clear Goals and Expectations
Corporate strategy has become more challenging under the hybrid work model as a result of communication discrepancies brought on by a distributed workforce. That is why it’s more important than ever to make goals and expectations explicit. Set clear expectations by emphasizing clearly defined quarterly objectives, holding employees accountable, tracking their work progress, and providing meaningful and actionable feedback.
Examine and Update Your Company’s Tech
Assess your company’s current technology and consider its efficiency in light of the hybrid adjustment. Identifying your team’s communication channels and their primary usage (email, phone, text, etc.) will assist you in determining what tech to update or upgrade based on their needs.
Fortunately, numerous software companies have modified their technologies to support remote work since the pandemic’s emergence. Employers can now adapt to new ways of working by using modern employee apps, employee engagement software, and employee communication tools to keep their employees informed, safe, and productive.
Read to learn more on how you can empower your deskless workers with technology.
As the world is slowly but surely getting back on its feet, companies are currently weighing their options and looking for the work arrangement that will work best for them. One of which is the transition to a hybrid work model, which must be carefully planned and timed, with all employees supported throughout.
In the end, each company has its challenges and dynamics, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing the shift. However, taking these steps toward the transition will make it easier for everyone involved.