Since March 2020, organizations all over the world have taken many of their operations digital, resulting in what we've come to refer to as hybrid working situations. In existing hybrid work set-ups however, 73% of employees have said that collaboration requires more effort now as opposed to the time before the pandemic. Naturally, this inefficiency can be detrimental to a company’s performance. Rather than viewing it as a negative thing however, companies should take this opportunity to transform the ways in which they operate, and create environments that top talents are eager to join.
By leveraging the current situation and reorienting it toward productivity, a company can design a hybrid workplace that yields better results. Here's how:
Be sensitive towards possible inequities
The first step in creating an effective hybrid workplace strategy is to recognize the system’s potential to spawn inequity. For one thing, a hybrid approach can raise tensions between in-office workers and remote workers. Visibility and attendance may result in more consideration for better pay, promotion, and opportunities for employees who get face time with the boss; remote workers may, on the other hand, receive less attention when it comes to advancement. Additionally, younger workers (many of whom have an easier time "going remote") may feel that there are gaps in their learning because they've missed out on valuable in-office interactions.
It’s important to regularly assess employee needs and ensure those employees are included in various opportunities. Internal surveys can be helpful in determining how employees are feeling under new conditions. For instance, if working mothers feel like they’re missing out because they work remotely, they would have an avenue to voice their concerns. One-on-one virtual meetings can also be incredibly helpful, not only by minimizing feelings of isolation, but also by ensuring everyone feels seen and valued.
Support human resources
Human resources personnel are invaluable in the management of a modern organization. Broadly speaking, HR professionals educated in business administration have formal training in how to effectively communicate with and oversee employees and new hires alike. In the context of hybrid working adjustments, this means driving operational success by articulating changes, assessing and managing employee behaviors, and even addressing tensions when needed. For these reasons, strategic human resource management is increasingly viewed as essential to handling the new challenges of the COVID era.
On a practical level, consider your HR department as an indispensable link between the highest levels of company structure and people putting in day-to-day work. Support HR workers as they gain a better understanding of how employees work, and use their insights to define expectations. It will also be helpful to spell out hybrid work protocols with the entire group, so that everyone is on the same page and any questions raised can be addressed transparently.
Develop hybrid work policies
As employees have learned to work more autonomously, they may come to dislike pre-pandemic levels of control and micromanagement more typical in office settings. Moreover, many workers are reconsidering their priorities in both their private and professional lives, often shifting gears towards more work-life balance. Accordingly, hybrid work policies should to some extent be guided by the employees and how they prefer to work — even if this means changing leadership and management style.
Do consider the safety and reality of who actually needs to be in the office at different times, as well. Define goals for in-person days, and set hours for when people should be online; conversely, you should also establish hours for when workers should not be contacted by management or colleagues.
Regarding working locations, it is also worthwhile to explore satellite office options or stipends for the coworking memberships favored by many employees. These are helpful options for those who may not like working at home –– or for whatever reason may not be able to.
Reconfigure the office setting
When employees are working in the office, they’re there to be productive, and not just present. The layout and purpose of a physical workspace should reflect this new mindset. A hybrid office should be able to facilitate collaborations, connections, and team-building. Essentially, you can build a flexible and activity-based office, where employees have dedicated spaces for quiet work, meetings, and so on.
Instead of empty desks, you can also develop a collaboration zone for formal and informal use. Depending on the need, this could be a social area or a breakout space. As for full-time remote workers, keep them equipped with the tools they need to perform well, whether that means laptops, office chairs, standing desks, etc. With basic equipment and a better use of space, your team can emerge from transition back stronger than before.
Finally, remember to keep track of employee suggestions with Laxis. As a virtual meeting assistant, Laxis is equipped with features you need to stay on top of meeting notes, and ensure that working conditions and processes remain on track. Contact us today to learn more.