In a recent study, Gallup notes: “One thing is clear: We’re not returning to the same workplace we left. And employees with the ability to work remotely are largely anticipating a hybrid office environment going forward — one that allows them to spend part of their week working remotely and part in the office.”
It’s safe to say that most of us have become accustomed to the remote or hybrid lifestyle. From a time when many were working fully remote, some companies now want employees to come back to the office with a “hybrid” schedule. Gallup notes that 70% of remote-capable employees were working from home in May 2020; but by February 2022, 42% had a hybrid schedule, while 39% worked exclusively from home. (Gallup)
We are starting to see a rise in the hybrid model where employees are going into the office a few days a week and working remotely the rest. This is a popular schedule where employees want to feel a sense of belonging to their workplace and an opportunity for employers to connect with their employees for training and other events. This model keeps the flexibility of reduced commutes, work-life balance and other perks while it also enables face-to-face engagement with coworkers.
Why is hybrid – as opposed to exclusively in-office work – so desirable? A study conducted by Condeco found hybrid working provides better work-life balance for employees, including reduced commute times and improved management of home life. Sixty-nine percent of employees said hybrid working demonstrates that an employer is taking their wellbeing into consideration. It’s a win for managers, too, with 80% reporting employee productivity is just as strong when working remotely and that the hybrid model gives them opportunities to find efficiencies. (Condeco)
Workplace culture and employee satisfaction have become important priorities for employers today. Employers know that their employees are valuable and if they don’t feel appreciated, they are not afraid to look elsewhere. In this environment, employers need to make an effort to understand what their employees are looking for and how they can accommodate while still having a productive and engaged workforce.
Tips to Embrace the Hybrid Workplace
Here are 7 tips to build and transition into the hybrid workplace.
1. Invest in technology
When working with employees who are remote, you will need upgraded technology to maintain communication and productivity. It’s a good idea to invest in technology and provide necessary equipment to your remote teams so that they are able to do their job well in a remote setting. Make sure to keep up with upgrades and provide the best equipment you can to facilitate seamless remote working.
2. Listen to employees
When focusing on employee happiness, it’s important to understand what your employees really want. Ask them what opportunities they are looking for and if they have any concerns or see possible drawbacks to working in a hybrid setting. Have an open discussion on what the best days are for the team to come in and what their preference is when it comes to working off-site or in the office. This will help you build a good hybrid model that addresses business needs and also takes everyone’s schedules and preferences into consideration.
3. Be open to change
As we’ve seen with the 2020 pandemic, everything can change with the drop of a hat. Therefore, it’s important to be open to change and try new things that will benefit the company and employees. With shifting priorities come shifting needs, and employers should be open to trying new things as market conditions and business environments evolve.
4. Focus on the outcome
As your employees work remotely, it’s important to focus on their outcomes versus making sure they are online all day long. Measure their productivity with their projects, meeting deadlines and their contributions. This will help build trust and avoid micromanaging which adds unnecessary stress to everyone’s day.
5. Set intentions and boundaries
As a manager, it’s important to allow your employees to set boundaries when it comes to their schedules. This means setting expectations of taking regular breaks, unplugging at a reasonable time, and determining priorities. Additionally, goals and intentions should be made clear. Outline what the expectations are when it comes to communication, meeting deadlines and managing projects. This will help facilitate seamless workflow in the long run.
6. Be communicative
Communication is key in a remote and hybrid setting. Having open, transparent and consistent communication will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and is meeting mutual expectations. Having weekly check-ins and project updates is a good way to keep the team in the know of what’s going on and what everyone’s tasks are for a given project.
7. Build trust
We mentioned earlier that you need to build trust within your team. This means that you should avoid micromanaging and give your remote team the flexibility to do their jobs. Your employees want to feel like they are able to take ownership and trusted to do their job well. Try to loosen control and give professionals the chance to thrive. Mistakes happen but mistakes give people the chance to learn and grow from them.
Is there a perfect solution? While employers and employees might not be seeing eye-to-eye on the best working model, there is no doubt that working remotely has proven to be productive and profitable. In fact, some employees feel that they are able to have a better work life balance and are equally, if not more, productive when working in a remote setting.
When employees are required to work 100% on-site, but would prefer hybrid or remote, there is a significant drop in employee engagement and wellbeing, along with a rise in burnout and intent to leave. Gallup advises: “Failing to offer flexible work arrangements is a significant risk to an organization’s hiring, employee engagement, performance, wellbeing and retention strategies.”
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