The Hybrid Workplace: Finding the Balance Between Remote and On-site Work
The early months of the COVID-19 pandemic were a chaotic and strange era for workplaces worldwide. The long-standing debate about the possibility of enforcing remote work finally met its end as the work-from-home setup became the only suitable option to resume business operations amid physical distancing. In a blink of an eye, employees traded their four-walled offices for their living spaces.
In the beginning, the transition of remote work was successful. Free from the confines of the traditional office, employees discovered they are more productive when working at home. Even jobs we never imagined going fully remote, such as doctors, therapists, and lawyers, transitioned pretty smoothly.
The rise of online collaboration tools played a critical role in the successful shift to remote working. Despite imminent risks related to cybersecurity, business continuity services have helped companies survive breaches without fatal consequences and keep their business running with trusted backup, recovery, and restoration solutions.
As office reopenings are picking up their pace, employers are planning whether employees should return to their physical workspaces. Today, a new work setup is slowly taking over our offices called the hybrid work model. In fact, leaders expect this work arrangement to offer promising solutions in the post-pandemic future.
Given the new paradigm presented by the hybrid model, this can lead to confusion in terms of its implementation. To ensure a fair and successful hybrid workplace, here are ways to make it work in the post-pandemic era.
Establish a fair system
Maintaining a fair workplace is one of the biggest challenges of shifting to a hybrid workplace. Keep in mind that not all employees want the same thing. Not everyone is willing to return to their offices, especially those who have small children to take care of, those who don’t feel safe yet to go outside, and those dependent on public transportation. Every individual has different priorities, and implementing a hybrid work model should involve gathering feedback.
Employers should provide the same opportunities for success for those who want to return to work and those who want to stay at home. One way to do this is to map out logistics while ensuring fairness. For instance, a rotating schedule requires a formalized policy structure available for all employees. The map should include where and when clients work to help managers detect imbalances in terms of access to resources, information, and colleagues while helping rebalance the workplace.
While managers define certain employees by their physical location, others will still prefer to work remotely. For example, if an employee requests permanent on-site or remote work, the manager should objectively and carefully assess its implications.
The same devices that support remote working are also the focus of a well-functioning hybrid workplace. Both remote and hybrid workplace models require the right technological solutions to ensure efficient communication, good team culture, and smooth workflow. Without proper tools, hybrid and remote teams will find it hard to collaborate because of the differences in distance and work arrangements.
IT teams must transition quickly toward installing a reliable digital infrastructure that accelerates digital working and provides agility, resilience, and scalability at every workplace function. This can be possible if leaders create targeted investments in employee training and expertise for these modern tools.
Companies may still rely on videoconferencing tools for constant communication, and teams can make the most of cloud-based productivity platforms to facilitate collaboration and easy access to files and projects available on the cloud.
When implementing these strategies, it’s important to monitor employee performance to identify opportunities for interventions. These opportunities will address potential issues of hybrid working in terms of power dynamics.
Managers should be extremely aware of how hybrid working forms power differences and group imbalance in terms of employees’ visibility levels and access to resources. Performance evaluations and reviews allow employees and their leaders to analyze and discuss imbalances and ways to solve them.
Conflicts within hybrid teams arise when members are not on the same page. Conducting team launches offers a great chance to discuss, recognize, and acknowledge power differences and find ways to manage them collectively.
Gathering employees in one physical space is another challenge in hybrid working. When conducting onboarding sessions, HR should discuss the impact of hybridity in group dynamics to ensure newcomers are aware of the importance of handling power and influence in a hybrid workplace.
As pandemic restrictions gradually ease, it’s about time for employers to look for the best work arrangements that ensure the safety and convenience of their employees. If you’re planning to adopt the hybrid model, take note of the suggestions above to ensure its successful implementation.
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