There is no doubt that the hybrid workforce model has gained favor among employers and employees. A Gartner survey has revealed that 74% of U.S. companies are either using or planning to put in place a permanent hybrid work model. A lot has changed since the ‘Great Reshuffle’ wave. It exposed a shift in employee mindsets about work and work culture. Leaders realized that the key to employee satisfaction lies in flexibility.
A Hybrid Workplace: Why making the transition may be the best decision
It all began when the remote working culture took the corporate world by storm. Employees got the opportunity to work from home minus the long hours of commute to their offices. It also enabled them to spend more time with their family and on their personal interests. At the same time, collaboration and workplace connections suffered. Neither remote working nor onsite working could be banished from the world of work. To reach a favorable consensus on the hybrid paradox, a flexible work model is the next big necessity.
Many companies and employees prefer to adopt a hybrid workforce model for its many benefits:
- It reduces costs for employers on office spaces due to a limited on-site workforce
- It results in less commute time and money for employees
- Hybrid working reportedly increases employee productivity and work-life balance
- Distributed working open gates to an international pool of talent
- It provides teams with an opportunity to collaborate in a physical and digital space
How to make a smooth transition to a hybrid work model?
Without systematic planning and mindful implementation, a shift to a hybrid workforce model can be chaotic. Designing a hybrid work strategy requires transparency and company-wide collaboration to be successful. Here is a step-by-step guide for a smooth transition to a hybrid workforce model:
- 1. Revamp management practices and train team leaders
Studies have shown that there is a high demand for agile leadership in modern workplaces. It is challenging for a leader of a hybrid workplace to handle the duality of a dispersed workforce. There are plenty of areas that need managerial intervention in a hybrid team. For example, hybrid leaders are responsible for building workplace connections. They need to demonstrate inclusive behaviors for remote employees. They also need to be aware of the use of different work management technologies to handle a virtual team. To facilitate all of this, managers in hybrid teams need to develop a new skill set to face the challenges that emerge in the hybrid working environment.
Training managers help them become empathetic and proactive leaders. To become a proficient hybrid team leader, the leadership training must include:
- Upskilling leaders to use the latest work management tools.
- Developing new leadership policies to handle hybrid team collaboration, coordination, and social connection.
- Training managers to practice inclusivity and equity to encourage employee growth and development.
- 2. Plan a hybrid work strategy and improve HR policies
The Human Resource department has come to the focal point of the workplace evolution. It plays a key role in change management across the organization. HR evaluates employee experience strategies, and workplace technologies and trains the workforce to adapt to the change. It acts as a liaison between various departments to implement strategic measures to deal with the challenges of the transition. The goal is to create a conducive working environment for the hybrid workforce.
A hybrid work policy is a prerequisite to ensure a seamless shift to the hybrid workforce model. Plan a strategy according to the nature of work, availability of resources, and the eligibility of each department for hybrid working. A smooth transition to a hybrid workforce model requires a coordinated effort. A committee of departmental managers must collaborate with the HR and the IT wing to devise a hybrid work management policy. Redesigning the employee experience (EX) strategy is also essential. Since the hybrid workforce contains remote employees – policies, perks, and benefits must be customized to meet their needs.
It is also important to review implemented changes and obtain employee feedback. This can further improve the hybrid work environment and drive better employee productivity.
- Involve the IT Department from the start. Invest in the right tech and cloud security solutions
With a fusion of remote and onsite working, hybrid workplaces are sustained by technology. Be it for team collaboration, communication or work management- Technology is the major backbone of it all.
IT plays a significant role in deploying the necessary tech successfully. For this reason, the IT department must be an integral part of the Hybrid Policy Committee from the initial stage. This helps them understand the technical needs of each department and provide practical solutions.
Automate tasks with work management technologies to create more time for innovations. It is also essential to use selected tools for communication and collaboration. IT ensures that teams use unified infrastructure with multiple features. This avoids an overload of tools and information. Productivity tools like Clariti are a great example of tools with many functionalities.
Hybrid workplaces are heavily virtual. Hence, cybersecurity is a major challenge. There is a risk of important data being shared across unknown networks. IT handles information security across the company’s infrastructures.
- Curate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative
A hybrid team can be a melting pot of diverse employees as it extends beyond the walls of a physical office. Diversity and Inclusion initiatives are crucial to sustaining a positive hybrid work environment. These DEI initiatives specifically incorporate the interest of underrepresented employees in the team. DEI initiatives aim to integrate any employees who are at risk of isolation from the team. A few examples include remote employees, employees with a disability, or from another cultural background.
A well-planned DEI strategy creates a sense of tolerance by encouraging employees to be sensitive and empathetic.
It enhances employee loyalty and attracts diverse talent to the company.
- Convert physical offices to smart workspaces
In a hybrid workforce model, the physical office is a collaborative space. Physical offices need to be fluid and intelligent to incorporate a hybrid workforce. Ideally, it should have open spaces for team collaborations. It must also have secluded spaces intended to encourage focused working.
Use hot-desking software for occupancy management. It aids in the systematic management of desk reservations in the office. In this way, employees can check for available workspace and schedule their visits to the office.
Redesign conference rooms to incorporate smart technologies. Smart meeting tech features high-end audio and visual capabilities for hybrid meetings. Creating fluidity in meeting rooms bridges the gap between the physical and digital realms.
- Develop a comprehensive staff training and development program
To progress in the right direction, it is vital to ensure that employees are aligned with the business goals and strategies. Managers must communicate the team goals and strategies with absolute clarity. Employee training is an ideal way to keep the workforce informed and driven.
Recorded training videos are an effective way to train a distributed team. It also enables self-paced learning and future referencing.
- There are a lot of things that a well-designed employee training and development program can do:
- It informs employees of new company policies and its roadmap forward
- Educates employees to use the available work management tools to their full potential
- Creates awareness of cyber-security and online safety behaviors for information safety.
- Encourages employee learning and upskilling for better outcomes
Employee training efforts can pay off positively in many ways. Research has revealed that trained employees are more productive and engaged. Employees tend to value companies that help them grow and develop their skillset. It can also improve the quality of work by reducing chances of errors, confusion and delays.
7. Create networking opportunities for remote working employees
The lack of serendipitous interactions with colleagues makes it difficult for remote employees to fit into a hybrid team. It is also tough to replicate the spontaneity of office interactions in a hybrid setting.
Create opportunities for remote employees to build connections with the team. Virtual team-building efforts help employees to get to know their teammates better. This can play an important part in team collaboration. Many companies use virtual team-building assistants to stimulate coffee-break conversations. Tools like Miro or Slack help employees connect through fun games and interactions.
- Improve implemented strategies with consistent review and feedback
There is no fixed formula to implement a hybrid work model. Hybrid working can be implemented in variations. Companies must decide on the hybrid work policy that suits organizational needs. Consistent feedback from employees is the best way to scrutinize implemented strategies. Positive and negative feedback help managers analyze employee performances and discrepancies in the work culture.
Create a safe environment for employees to share their honest feedback. Use employee feedback tools to record and track feedback to streamline the process. Record feedback in the form of surveys and polls. Review the received feedback and make improvements systematically. With time and consistency, employers can enhance the quality of the hybrid work environment.
The hybrid workforce model taps the best of both worlds – office and remote. It is the future and wise are those who make a move! But an unplanned transition can be a tedious process. A smooth transition is a result of an actionable hybrid work strategy worked out ahead of time by a team of key decision-makers.
Companies must plan, implement and communicate their strategy with transparency. A successful transition plan enables a company to make the shift without overwhelming employees. Instead, it can impact their work-life positively.
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