In the year 2020, two buzzwords became very common for organizations and HRs globally – remote work and pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic completely altered the traditional office setting, and the effects are here to stay for years to come. While many organizations and employees adapted to remote working, many struggled in the process. Companies struggled with the cost of maintaining empty offices and employee logistics, while employees struggled to work continuously remote. They started showing multiple signs of mental and physical health issues.
This year offices are reopening from their physical locations in some countries as things are becoming normal. But will they ever function like before? Will the complete workforce work out of the office? The answer is no! With the volatile state of businesses and changing nature of work, organizations must be agile and continuously adapt to what employees want. Employees want more flexibility at work, and must be able to choose from where they work; from a physical office, or remotely from anywhere around the globe. This has led to a new buzzword this year – a hybrid workplace or hybrid work model. While setting up a hybrid work model might sound daunting at first, but it is easy to design one.
Keep reading to know how it is easy to design a hybrid work model to increase effectiveness of the employees and the organization.
What Is a Hybrid Work Model?
Hybrid work model or hybrid working is a flexible work model supported by organizations where employees work partly from office and partly remote, depending on their convenience. It gives them the option to choose from where they want to work and maintain work-life balance. Organizations with hybrid work models do not distinguish between their employees who decide to work remotely, or from the office, or both. They receive the same compensation, benefits, perks, and services irrespective of where they choose to work from.
P.S. Most large companies have been practising a hybrid approach for years now. (The phrase gained popularity this year with the pandemic still around.)
Here are a few tips which would help you build a better hybrid workplace.
Leadership Support and Cultural Shift
Source: The Balance / Theresa Chiechi
Leadership support and a shift in the organizational culture are key to making the hybrid work model a success. As a leader, be open to the idea of transitioning to a hybrid working model and the challenges associated with it. Be understanding, empathetic, and transparent to all your employees, irrespective of where they work. Along with this, be ready to support or be flexible for a cultural shift in the organization.
In a hybrid working model, employees would be working from home, office, or both. Not only this, employees will be spread across geographies too! So, the need for a shift in the organizational culture is crucial. A culture that focuses on its employees and also aligns with the organization’s goals, ethics, and values will help organizations to thrive in the long run.
Preparing your workforce for the change is essential, there are no second thoughts about that. Conduct one-on-one and group sessions to inform them about shifting to a new working model. Help them understand how it will affect them and their work. Inform them in advance and keep them updated about any changes. From time to time, send them tips and hacks on how to perform their best in the hybrid environment. This will help them prepare for the change.
Address Employee Burnout and Mental Health of ‘All’ Employees
Source: Manhattan Medical Arts
Last year, when employees shifted from their physical work locations to remote working because of COVID-19, the transition impacted the employees. While the initial reactions were positive, with time, it proved to be challenging for many. They found themselves to be accommodating to new workspaces which were not ergonomically designed, as a result many complained of frequent headaches and eye problems. Additionally, many employees started showing signs of depression, anxiety, isolation, and other related mental health issues. A certain amount of disconnect existed between teams and their peers. But at the same time, many employees found themselves to be more productive and having a greater work-life balance while working remotely.
Now, with things becoming normal, many employees have started working from their physical workspaces. But things are not like before, they are part of empty or partially empty offices, new rules, new policies and protocols, everything has changed. This has created a case of severe performance anxiety among everyone.
Supporting mental health and employee burnout issues should be amongst your top priorities for employers. Promote mental health awareness and initiatives for all your employees. Communicate with your team frequently and encourage them to come out with their issues. Promote workplace socialization where employees interact and take part in employee engagement and team-building activities. Mental wellbeing is essential for a productive and happy workforce.
Leverage tools and technology
To make everyone feel connected and make collaboration seamless in the hybrid workplace, it is essential to leverage the tools and technology available in the market. This will make them feel that all are working from the same workplace in spite of being across different geographies and work locations.
Give them access to simple communication tools such as Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts, to make the team meetings and collaboration easy and seamless.
Digitize HR and performance management related processes using tools such as Engagedly, Lattice, Reflektive, etc.
Arrange online knowledge-sharing sessions by experts and by the leadership
Give them access to online learning academies such as Udemy, Coursera, edX, Udacity, that will help them improve their skills and gain knowledge
Use tools to conduct team-building activities
Offer Them Flexible Work Hours
“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” Arianna Huffington, co-founder of Huffington Post.
Gone are the days of 9-5 working hours, when employees used to work continuously from office for eight to nine hours. Instead, introduce flexible working hours. It will give your employees a sense of control and help them identify their highly productive hours and schedule their most important work during those hours. It will help them maintain their work with their personal commitments as they get to choose when, where, and how to work.
COVID-19 has forever altered the old definition of office and work, and the changes are here to stay. From remote work, offices are slowly transitioning to hybrid work now, and more and more emphasis is on employee wellbeing and health. Employers and organizations that focus on their employees and are agile will sustain themselves in the post-pandemic world.
Let us know in comments how your organization is transitioning to hybrid work.
Do you want to know how Engagedly can help you manage your employees better? Then request for a live demo.
Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2023.