It’s been quite a while since WHO declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. Lockdowns, quarantines, and self-imposed isolation pushed millions of people to work from home, thus accelerating a workplace trend that has struggled to gain traction before. The good news is that approximately 42.3% of the US population is currently fully vaccinated, and COVID cases have started dropping. This means that economies are reopening, and people are going back to work. Although people are yearning to get back to normal, the new normal doesn’t necessarily include going back to how we used to work.
Several months into the pandemic, the benefits of remote work are more apparent that employers and employees alike want remote work options in the workplace to continue in some form. The answer is in transitioning into hybrid work. Safety concerns and pandemic restrictions also drive the move towards hybrid work. Several companies, especially SMEs, can’t safely or legally have all of their employees in the office simultaneously and still manage to maintain social distancing. That being said, this work model is long overdue and is here to stay.
In simple terms, it’s a working model that employers use to allow flexible working conditions for their employees. Hybrid work has many variations. Some companies have one group of employees working full-time in-office while the other group works full-time remotely. Other companies allow every employee the flexibility to work remotely and on-site part of the week. Then, some companies allow a combo of the two.
A report released by Microsoft states that over 70% of employees want remote work options in the workplace to continue in some form, while 65% want more time in-person with their colleagues. On the other hand, the McKinsey research found that 80% of remote workers enjoy working from home and 69% are just as more productive, if not more, at home as they are in the office. Employers now know and want to gain the benefits of remote work, but about 68% of them still believe employees should work on-site at least three times a week to maintain the company culture. All this research means employers need to create the ideal balance for the hybrid work model to be successful.
The first thing you’ll need to figure out is which employees should work remotely, which ones should work on-site, and how often. Safety will be the number one concern, meaning who is at high risk from coronavirus. This includes the elderly, people with certain health conditions like heart disease and lung problems, and pregnant women. These high-risk groups should be given priority to work from home as much as possible.
After that, the optimal balance will be influenced by the roles and responsibilities of each employee. These questions can help determine who should work from home and on-site:
• How much does an employee need to collaborate with others?
• How much do they need to exchange information?
• How does a particular employee feel about working from home versus in-office?
• Do specific teams need to be in the office for in-person meetings and collaborations? If so, how many days a week?
• What types of meetings must be in person, and which ones can be done online?
• Can there be days when all employees can work from home?
• Where are employees in their careers? New employees or those having performance issues or newly promoted could benefit from closer support in the office.
This pandemic has hit people from different demographic groups differently. HR needs to consider that some people can’t come back to work and should, therefore, put policies in place that create an equal playing field as much as possible.
The data is clear; employees want the best of both worlds. As an employer, you have to make changes to accommodate what employees want or risk losing top talent and productivity.
An Envoy survey found that about 66% of employees are worried about their health and safety as they return to work amid the pandemic. The hybrid work model offers much flexibility that positively impacts employees’ work-life balance, safety, and overall well-being.
Happier employees are more engaged and productive. A Gallup survey showed that people who worked remotely during the pandemic had the highest engagement levels and was just as productive at home, if not more, as they were in the office.
Lastly, flexibility is becoming a prerequisite for many employees as it allows for a better work-life balance. The opportunity to work from anywhere also saves time and money on daily commuting. This means that organizations with a hybrid work model can easily attract and retain top talent.
Although many employees appreciate hybrid work, and this model can significantly improve your workplace, it has some complexities and downsides. Employers need to find the best way to manage in-office and remote working.
The key to a successful hybrid work model is proper communication. Hybrid work makes organizational alignment harder to achieve, so proper communication around the company’s mission, vision, goals, and strategy is crucial. When employees are distributed in different locations, managers are limited to mostly holding online meetings, which means your digital communication channels need to be effective. When employees and groups have a clear understanding of what is expected from them, their location will not hinder them from achieving their and the company’s objectives.
Although hybrid work sits in the middle of in-office and remote working, it can easily be pulled in either direction without clear guidelines. Employees should never be guessing whether they should be working in the office or at home, and when. Be sure to establish new and clear rules, procedures, and best hybrid work practices.
Successful hybrid work requires employee input. By frequently asking for their feedback, you can understand the impact this model has on their productivity, engagement, motivation, collaboration, and overall well-being.
Hybrid work models rely heavily on technology. As such, you need the right solutions that enable employees to communicate and interact effectively, with the right content, and at the right time. The ability to provide connectivity to remote workers, have collaboration tools to make remote work more productive, and have the data secured is vital. You’ll also need to upgrade the office space, like improving video and sound quality of conferencing technology and adopting technology to enable hoteling. The office needs to be more accessible and collaborative for employees coming in on alternative schedules. It’s also important to create various tools into a single platform. The tech ecosystem in organizations is becoming more complex, and integration is on every company’s to-do list.
With some planning, you can create a successful hybrid work model for your employees that also help you run more profitably and efficiently. Seeing as the hybrid work model is heavily reliant on technology, MicroXpress Inc. can help by providing a range of professional IT services to businesses, regardless of the size. We can manage all your IT needs, ensure your data and network is secure, and even provides remote IT support, among other services. For more information and to also get a quote, contact us today!
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