“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”-Max McKeown
You’ve probably been hearing the term “Hybrid Working” a lot lately. But what is it exactly? A hybrid work environment refers to a schedule that allows employees to split their time between working from the office and working from home.
As we move forward in 2021 and beyond, we can expect to see a very different working landscape than what we have been used too. There is no doubt a hybrid work model increases productivity, lower costs for companies, and add flexibility to our work-life balance. Therefore, we must begin to adapt, understand, and plan for the future success of our businesses.
Understanding the New Challenges of Remote/Hybrid Work
There will be many challenges to consider as we move forward into this new model. Try to anticipate them beforehand. For instance, how will you maintain a strong workplace culture when everyday socialization (water cooler conversations, birthday parties, in person orientations) are no longer accessible to certain employees? Try to create outlets in which these interactions are still possible, in or out of the office. These could be anything from digital team building exercises to in-person special events (safely executed, of course).
Understand that this shift in work environment effects all employees in various ways. Ensure that you have strong support systems in place within your community. It may be a good idea to adjust your HR initiatives to focus on mental wellbeing while people begin to settle into the new norm. Provide your team with the knowledge and tools they will need to adjust to ensure that remote working does not get bogged down by unnecessary technical difficulties. Treat those remote employees with the same support you would in the workplace by offering onboard training to new hires and ongoing development resources to existing staff.
Creating/Maintaining Effective Work Output
Ensuring your team feels the same motivation when working out of the office may be a challenge. Make sure you have systems in place which maintain or even improve employee effectiveness. One way to do this is to construct output models which have tangible expectations and deadlines. Make it clear how performance will be judged. Be open and consistent about how responsibilities will be managed and apply these standards to all employees.
As everyone in your office begins to adapt to the new model, it is important to create equal opportunities for all employees by allowing them to work however they are most productive. If remote work is not an option for a certain role but is the employee’s preference, be collaborative about how to find a balance that best suits your staff member as well as your business. The more your employees feel their needs are being addressed, the more productive they will be in their current roles.
Look to the Future
The hybrid work model is most likely here to stay. Consider how we will continue to adapt the modern workplace as we move forward. Farsighted employers are already recognizing the long-term value of hybrid work. Reimagine the future by beginning to ask yourself some of these fundamental question about how your new environment will function. Consider the systems you have in place – how will in-house innovation work with everyone collaborating remotely? Are you set up? Have you given your staff the tools to improve their home workspace? It may be necessary to make investments in digital infrastructure to get the most value from a more flexible work model.
Examine how will you foster sense of community with half the office working from home and new hires maybe never stepping foot in the office. Once again, digital infrastructure (such as collaboration tools and smart workspaces) will help to create a balance between the two realities.
We do not know what the post-pandemic world will look like, but with evolved performance management, effective communication, and openness of opportunities, we can begin to set ourselves up for success in any working arena.