The human mind adapts to new habits in a couple of months, if not weeks. Likewise, organizations and workforces got used to working from remote locations during the lockdown. Before the pandemic, the percentage of people working from home or in remote areas was in the single digits.
A shift to a hybrid workplace model was not unheard of, but it was a business consideration that accelerated after the coronavirus breakout. The urgent need to stay virtual but active rendered a glimpse of the future of workplaces.
Things have returned to near normal, and businesses have to decide how the workforce will work in the future without disrupting the process. Most companies are embracing the hybrid workplace model as their return-to-work strategy. It is a workweek arrangement with a mix of remote and in-person models. And few are indecisive about what is right and how to strategize the transition to a new order.
Reasons that appeal to a hybrid model
In a free world primary factor that decides the way we live and work is the ease of working. A hybrid model offers a work-life balance that most people missed before 2020. The exhaustive commute to work added pressure to the burgeoning problems of traffic. Going to work became an unpleasant part of people’s routines.
Future of hybrid workspaces
Hybrid workspaces have three dimensions; people, place, and technology. Critical decisions related to logistics and employee rostering may vary from one business to the other. Four challenges that will disrupt the efficiency of hybrid workplaces and the means to brave them are cited here:
Barriers to work culture
Hybrid workplaces pose the threat of partisan views resulting in unconscious bias. Out-of-sight may turn to out-of-mind in the case of remote workers, whereby managers give preference to in-person employees over others. The fixes to this problem lie in mindfulness displayed by the leadership and can be checked in the following ways:
1. Give equal appreciation for equal work irrespective of location and time. Let the employee’s work speak for themselves rather than their limitations of place. Some remote employees are doing work late at night as that’s the most productive time for them. But an in-person employee can only work in the office timings. The time they work in is not as important as the quality of their work.
2. Clear and unified communication among all the teams is necessary for hybrid workplaces. All the updates, guidelines, and directives, should be communicated to both in-person and remote teams.
It takes effort to reach out to a person, to know how they are faring. Isolation and disconnection from the world have disadvantages that work against remote employees. Managers who make effort to stay connected can still gauge the pulse of their team. To improve connection with employees checks here:
#1 Keep meetings short to avoid burnout for employees
#2 Delegate the work to deserving team members as a recognition of their work and empower them
#3 Ask direct questions and deep dive if necessary to get answers about how employees feel
Every employee is not trained in IT or is digitally savvy. In a traditional office space, whenever there was system downtime, a ticket was raised to be solved by the IT-support function. But when employees work in isolation, they have to manage some basic IT functions like stabilizing an internet connection or managing their passwords. Check here for pointers
#1 Conduct IT and systems handling training sessions for teams
#2 If a team member cannot deal with the situation, IT should support them through remote access to their devices.
Even the most introverted employee needs some form of social connection with their ilk. The coffee-time banter and networking help employees stay abreast of the grapevine information that is related to their professional field. To overcome this problem managers can:
#1 Form groups for teams to discuss stuff unrelated to their regular work yet productive for the whole group. It is not a simple meme-forwarding platform but a source to exchange ideas that can help members in their overall professional growth.
The reason to embrace hybrid work can vary but it is seen as the orbit for future workplaces. There will be adjustments from both enablers and users, however as mankind has adapted in past, this will be just another phase in the ongoing industrial revolution