The hybrid workplace model has become the predominant office model, especially for knowledge-based industries. And it’s clear that, as employees have reversed many companies’ return-to-work initiatives, hybrid work has become indispensable. It’s time to shift the focus to how best to make this work. With employees working part of the time in the office and part of the time working remotely, there are challenges. With 87% of employers planning to offer some sort of flexible scheduling, now is the time to get the hybrid workplace strategy right.
The hybrid workplace model
Whether they worked remotely before the pandemic or not, a whopping 54% of employees who worked completely remotely said they would look for another job if they were forced to return to the office full-time. And 38% of their hybrid colleagues said the same in a Gallup study of more than 140,000 American workers. Based on these numbers alone, it is clear that organizations that do not offer at least a hybrid work schedule are at high risk of exhaustion.
Major companies such as LinkedIn , Verizon, Amazon, and even the Mayo Clinic have adopted a variant of flexible scheduling. Every company’s hybrid workplace strategy looks a little different, but what they have in common is that they put the needs of their employees first. In return, they see improvements in engagement, performance, well-being, and retention.
Yes, the hybrid workplace model remains and the benefits for the employees are clear. However, there are some challenges that arise that need to be addressed.
The communication gap
We are communicating. Since the pandemic, time in meetings has increased by almost 150% and the number of emails sent has increased by 40 billion. Additionally, Zoom reports that the number of daily meeting attendees has increased by 2,900% since December 2019. At least according to the numbers. But everyone has experienced a meeting where most of the cameras are turned off. And a study of Cisco reportsthat half of employees are silent during video meetings. Another 4 in 25 employees actually admit to sleeping during these remote meetings. These numbers are shocking, but besides that, sometimes the technology just doesn’t work. Many employees report that they struggle with connectivity during meetings or that they don’t have the resources to work effectively in a hybrid model.
When establishing or refining your hybrid workplace strategy, keep these: communication tips in mind :
- Plan how communication will work in your business. Since many employees work primarily remotely, communication must be intentional.
- A meeting is not always an answer. Zoom fatigue anyone? If a phone call or email can be used to address the issue, skip the meeting!
- Add visual elements to written communication to clarify messages and keep them appealing. In a distant world, infographics and short videos can go a long way toward understanding information.
- Be aware of your tone. Read the words, “We need to talk.” Now emphasize different words and see how it changes the meaning. Now consider how your written communication might be received.
- Celebrate success. Many employees report that the only time they hear from their supervisor is when there is a problem. Communicate often to recognize the good too.
The right people. In the right place. At the right time. (And on the right day!)
The deadline for the big project is approaching. Collaboration has been a critical part of making it work. Today is the last day to really get the pieces together. But Sharon works from home in “focus mode,” and Bill won’t be there until 2:00 PM. Alex leaves at noon. Time zones got confused and Ryan can’t make the scheduled zoom meeting to accommodate the geographically separated team members. And to top it all off, Susan thought the meeting would be tomorrow.
Without some degree of planning and planning, crucial pieces of the puzzle could be missing.
Ok, so chances are not much would go wrong. And if it was a really huge project, your team would coordinate their schedules better and make sure everyone worked together on the last push to the deadline. But the key word here is coordination. Without some degree of planning and planning, crucial pieces of the puzzle could be missing.
Transparency can help remedy this situation. If you have a fully flexible hybrid schedule, ask employees to be open and honest about where and when they work. This is not to micromanage your team. It aims to help everyone know where their teammates are and how best to contact them. If your hybrid workplace model has more structure (which 6 out of 10 employees actually want), be sure to communicate big project days ahead of time to help your team choose the best days to be in the office.
Loss of connection
It was touched upon in the communication section, but we are in an overly connected, disconnected world. 38% of those wholly remote workers actually want to work a hybrid schedule. The main reason for that? Collaboration.
Much of the social aspect of the office is lost if employees do not meet in the corridors or in the cafeteria. And even if one-on-one meetings start with a short personal check-in at the beginning, much of the bonding and camaraderie is still lost.
When employees do not work in the same location, their interaction is rarely spontaneous. Most of these interactions are planned and often on screens. And as any creative would tell you, you can’t plan for innovation. But in a hybrid workplace model, planning and scheduling is a must.
“To unleash innovation in this context, leaders need to empower employees to collaborate more purposefully,”
says Alexia Cambon, Director, Research, Gartner .
“Our research shows that teams of knowledge workers who intentionally collaborate are almost three times more likely to achieve high team innovation than teams that do not use an intentional approach.”
So what does intentional collaboration look like and how can a leader prioritize it in an organization? For a hybrid team, these collaborations will take place in the actual office building, completely remotely, or a combination of both. Create collaborative areas throughout your office that are flexible and suitable for both in-person and remote workers. When inspiration strikes, the team needs to be able to jump in, whether they’re in the same building or in different countries.
Imagine you have just been hired for your first job. Your job interviews have all been conducted remotely, as has your job acceptance. Today is the first day and you will be given a login to the company’s project management software. Where do you start? What is the company’s mission? The vision? What role does your work play within the organization? Chances are you won’t be able to answer any of these questions while sitting at your remote desk. If you were in the office you would find a friendly face to ask. If you are working remotely, you can contact your supervisor, but you may be scared. So you start checking boxes without a clear idea of priorities or direction.
Culture does not always translate well without the community that goes with it.
Do you understand? Pre-pandemic corporate culture was most often experienced and shared through face-to-face interactions. By having lunch with the boss. In client meetings where goals and visions were shared. Through casual interactions and spontaneous conversations with colleagues. There may be introductory videos to encourage your team members to watch, and online training modules to complete. But culture doesn’t always translate well without the community that goes with it.
Experiencing the company culture is not only important because it gives the employee the feeling of being part of something bigger. It is actually important to the success of a business. Research by Kotter states that when the corporate culture is strong, organizations see improvements in revenue growth, retention, share price and net income.
To transfer the corporate culture in a remote and hybrid team, extra steps are needed. When it comes to community and culture, proximity is important. People are usually closest to the people they see the most and deal with on a daily basis. In a world where people work from everywhere, proximity isn’t always possible, but a sense of community and connection can be. This can happen when leaders at all levels are more aware of communicating their purpose. The overall goals of the company and how the work a team member does is directly related to that goal.
It is important that leaders are not only visible but accessible . It is common for remote team members not only to feel separated, but even forgotten. In fact, many leaders admit that remote team members are “out of sight, out of mind.” They are often passed over for promotion opportunities and are also excluded from important projects. Encourage the leadership team to regularly contact their team members, both remotely and in person. And keep these remote team members connected by often pairing them with other colleagues for assignments and collaboration opportunities.
Creating a hybrid environment
A hybrid work schedule is all about flexibility. It doesn’t matter if there is a strategy for scheduling days in the office, or if the choice is entirely in the hands of your team, many of your team members will only spend part of their time in the office. Creating an inviting space that’s ready for whatever the day may bring is important to keep your team coming back. This doesn’t just mean conservation, though great office designs help.
Create an office space that’s as flexible as your hybrid schedule. Mobile options give room to flex with your team. Is there a large group of people in the office looking for individual workplaces? Are several small groups working on separate parts of a project and need space for planning and brainstorming? Do two colleagues need a space away from the noise to concentrate and converse? The right hybrid office furnishing has it all. There are many challenges to succeed in the new hybrid reality, but an outdated office space should not be one of them.
Design your hybrid workplace with StrongProject !