For companies all over the world, the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak were strange and chaotic.
Many employers went from debating whether or not a remote work environment was a feasible option, to deciding that it was the only suitable alternative. Millions of individuals all across the world have swapped their daily commute for a quick walk to the kitchen.
It was a successful transition for the most part. Some employees thrived throughout the epidemic because they were no longer bound by the limits of a physical office. This contradicted the widely believed notion that remote work situations reduce productivity.
As restrictions in some regions began to loosen in the early summer, the focus moved to bring people back into the workplace. Employees, on the other hand, weren’t exactly eager to return—at least not in the same way as earlier. The pandemic had permanently altered our lives, and there was no going back. Employers found themselves at a fork in the road, attempting to appease workers while balancing business and productivity objectives.
As a result, a new working model emerged: The hybrid workplace.
What is a Hybrid workplace?
The hybrid workplace is a company concept that incorporates both remote and in-office operations. A hybrid work environment combines in-office and remote work, similar to how institutions offer a hybrid learning approach.
A hybrid workplace allows for more flexibility and liberty in terms of when and where you work. Rather than structuring work around regular hours logged into an office, it often enables staff to fit work around their life. It’s a wonderful situation for many employees (and employers) because it unifies freedom with sociability and structure.
According to a US workplace survey, more than half of American workers (52%) choose a hybrid solution that involves both time in the office and remote working.
A hybrid workplace model may vary from company to company, but it usually involves a skeleton staff on-site, with others free to come and go as they choose, within limits. It could be the same staff who are required to be on-site, or it could be a large number of employees on alternating schedules. However, employees may be required to attend in-person meetings on particular days.
Another noteworthy fact is that “nearly nine out of 10 business leaders (88 percent) predict a more hybrid method of working in the long run,” according to a study of Western European business leaders.
A hybrid method is the right combination of productive work, all-time low-stress levels, and reduced travel time.
Why Employees Prefer The Hybrid Workplace?
According to research conducted by Boston Consulting Group, 75 percent of employees who have transitioned to or remained remote during COVID-19 are just as competent in their individual responsibilities as they were before the epidemic. Approximately half of them claim to be just as productive on collaborative work as they might be in a meeting room.
According to another survey, 55 percent of US workers prefer a combination of home and office employment. Two-thirds of Google employees, according to a recent survey, wish to return to their offices at some time, but not very often. As a result, the organisation is developing hybrid models for future projects.
The lack of safety associated with public transit is another major cause why people feel anxious about returning to work. In a survey of 3,500 workers around the world, 81 percent stated they commuted to work using public transportation, and 67 percent were worried about commuting when they return to work during the epidemic.
The advantages of flexible hours coexist with the advantages of having a physical office in a hybrid workplace. The pandemic expedited an existing trend, demonstrating the viability of a distributed workforce, but it also exposed some of the drawbacks of a strictly remote working style. Employees today desire the best of both worlds, especially those who are just starting.
How Can You Successfully Implement A Hybrid Workplace?
Transitioning to a hybrid workplace requires rewiring your business policies from the ground up, ensuring that they work no matter where they’re used. It’s one of the most difficult tasks a company may face, and how you tackle it depends on the size and nature of your company.
Study how firms similar to yours have transitioned to a hybrid or remote work environment, and pay attention to the lessons learned—and the blunders made—along the way. Here are some general ideas to keep in mind when implementing a hybrid approach:
1.Ask Employees What They Want
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that all employees desire the same thing. Everyone’s priorities are varied, thus creating a successful hybrid workplace requires input from staff across all areas of the company. Respond to your team’s feedback by conducting a survey. Make yourself available to hear their complaints and demands, and be truthful with them about the types of improvements you can make to the workplace.
2. Offer Options, But Not Too Many!
Give employees a choice of two or three ways to work at your company: one where they spend most of their time in the office, one where they spend most of their time working from home, and one that is somewhere in the between. Allow people to change their minds, but encourage them not to do this frequently. This way, you can prepare in advance and know exactly where everyone would be at any given moment, allowing you to better manage resources.
3. Embrace Technology
The same tech that enables remote working also powers a well-functioning hybrid workplace. To make it fairer between people who work virtually and those who work at the company, use cloud-based productivity software and teleconference solutions.
Make sure that everybody has accessibility to the remote-working hardware they require. Identify any daily duties that can only be accomplished at the workplace, think about why this is so, and then explore other options. Even when an employee is not at work, they must be able to accomplish their job just in time.
They should also have access to whatever support and materials they require to be successful, so make these resources readily available. Every last detail should be documented, from a client meeting to a casual conversation in the hallway, so that everyone is updated and on the same page.
4. Maintain Your Company’s Culture
Culture is a difficult concept to define. A corporation can have a strategic vision or a set of guiding beliefs, but a workplace’s culture emerges naturally from employee interactions. Keep remote workers connected to the social side of the office via casual online meetups and virtual town halls, so they don’t miss out on those all-important watercooler moments.
Make sure that your remote employees feel like they’re getting the whole employee experience. Evaluate perks to ensure they aren’t solely beneficial to people that show up to work. If employees have unlimited drinks and snacks in the cafeteria, for instance, you may give remote workers a free coffee subscription or free meal kits.
It’s a huge task to adapt to a remote or hybrid environment, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Begin by determining your company’s values, writing them down, and then reinforcing them through every channel available.
5. Make Your Job Listings Remote
How you acquire new hires is the true test of a hybrid workplace. Make job listings as location-independent as possible. Establish a new interview and recruiting process that supports candidates regardless of how far they are from the office, and provide them with the resources they need to connect with their fellow teammates and perform their tasks efficiently.
6. Create A Socially Distanced Office Layout
You can more readily implement a layout that is designed for employee safety with fewer employees in the office. Because it’s unknown how long the social distancing requirements will continue, take advantage of the chance to declutter the office and develop shared coworking areas. Create lots of personal space between workstations and implement one-way systems to safely guide employees across the premises.
7. Don’t Overlook Who You Can’t See
Because remote employees are less noticeable than in-office workers, they are more likely to be ignored for promotions and other growth opportunities. Be aware of your natural prejudice and take an effort to ensure that your decisions are fair and equitable.
Train managers to support and integrate remote workers, and adjust your training programs to provide a fair playing field so that remote employees aren’t put at a disadvantage simply because they aren’t in the room.
Many companies are adopting the hybrid workplace concept to boost productivity while reducing employee stress. This is the ultimate goal that every company should strive toward. The need of the hour is to create a workplace that prioritises individual wellness and allows employees to select their preferred working style. Because the future is uncertain, companies must grasp changing work trends to ensure long-term sustainability.
Ansh Aggarwal has 6+ years of experience in the B2B Marketing space in India and International markets. Currently associated with Zimyo, Ansh is taking care of the entire gamut of marketing activities for the on-boarding of Enterprise clients. He communicates directly/indirectly with Industry leader CXOs, CHROs, IT Heads to understand their challenges and come up with solutions that are enabling them to transform their company into an employee-centric organization.