Four Ways Companies Can Make The Hybrid Model Work For Them
As the pandemic slowly eases its grip on our lives, companies across the globe are gradually making their way back to the office, with many betting on hybrid work models that enable employees to work partly from the office and partially remote. What’s becoming clear is that a hybrid model hastily set up as a response to nationwide lockdowns is not the same as creating a long-term hybrid work policy that accounts for employee wellbeing and business productivity.
Another factor companies need to keep in mind is that our new reality is predictably unpredictable. Even COVID-19 may not be in the past, with the emergence of a new Omnicron variant threatening companies’ upcoming return-to-office (RTO) plans. Hybrid work models need to have built-in flexibility and support systems to adapt to ever-changing circumstances and still allow businesses to survive and thrive.
Here are four ways organizations can create a sustainable, forward-thinking hybrid work model to outlast whatever uncertainty lies ahead.
1. Increase the Adoption of Remote-Based Collaboration Tools and IT Support
In the work-from-anywhere age, companies should implement solutions that optimize digital workflow and promote collaboration and productivity. This is true for teams working in a hybrid environment from the same office or distributed teams in different time zones. These solutions could include employee experience platforms, cloud-based file-sharing systems, collaborative applications, and ensuring employees access hi-speed internet.
With the rise of remote work, IT teams also need to be ready to support and collaborate remotely. Suppose an IT issue arises for someone working remotely. In that case, companies should already have in place readily available self-help tools as well as interactive online IT support so they can get back to work as quickly as possible.
They should ensure that employees are equipped with an essential IT knowledge base or that a comprehensive online FAQ is available, filled with tips and tricks in case employees need to troubleshoot specific issues. Additionally, live chat options, in-solution ticket handling, and incredibly remote support options can enable IT teams to quickly help employees get back to work.
Normalizing these kinds of collaborative portals will bridge the gap between office-based and remote workers and empower them to help troubleshoot any issues that arise, whether IT or otherwise.
2. Keep Investing in Work Relationships
One of the impacts of remote or hybrid work is that there are fewer opportunities for relationship building or even serendipitous watercooler conversations that contribute to team building and positive work culture.
A workday is more than just crossing off a series of tasks on a list. It’s also a chance to foster the positive, productive relationships that breed motivation and innovation. A recent Gallup poll concluded that many employees feel isolated and lonely when working from home. Higher percentages of those who worked 100% remotely in 2020-21 reported feeling lonely than hybrid or in-office counterparts. The conclusion from this is that synergy is as essential for employee well-being as productivity.
In the era of hybrid work, relationships at work must be actively developed and maintained, no matter where and when employees do their job.
To overcome the community-building challenge of hybrid work, executives need to think of creative or less traditional ways to connect with their teams.
For example, managers could offer virtual office hours when their “Zoom Door” is always open for pop-ins, schedule physical meetups at a space outside of the office and facilitate in-person gatherings when employees are in the office. Building a team culture at work is more complex in a world of hybrid work but far from impossible.
3. Break Away From the Binary Office-Home Hybrid Model
Though WFH has become au courant, most people don’t want to work strictly from home; instead, they want options. Employees shouldn’t be restricted to working either from the office or their homes, especially when home offices infringe on personal spaces like living rooms and bedrooms. When working remotely, many employees feel that they need to work from home because they have a specific set-up or are dependent on WiFi or other amenities that they can only get at the office or home.
Given the multitudes of people who choose to work in cafes, parks, and the like these days, how can employers support employees’ desire to work in different, refreshing spaces and break the office-home binary?
First, employers should ensure that employees have the resources and support they need to get their work done effectively from anywhere. This means finding ways to offer access to or subsidies for in-office-style amenities like WiFi, extra monitors, and group meeting places. One great perks that many offices offer are free snacks or subsidized meals. For hybrid work, employers must find ways to provide the same or similar benefits to remote workers – wherever they choose to lay their laptops.
Employers can also consider offering new spaces outside the office and home where employees can meet to collaborate, escape distractions at home, or shake up their routine. Creative solutions may provide other benefits as well—for example, employees who have an employer-sponsored option to work at local cafes, bookshops, or coworking spaces, can give back to local businesses while also minimizing their commute time and carbon footprint.
4. HR Departments Need to Be Ready to Adapt
The impact of the pandemic on peoples’ emotional health cannot be overstated. The first wave of the pandemic spurred a frantic transition to remote working, and HR teams – unprepared (understandably) for the sudden seismic shift – have had to bear much of the consequences.
Though remote working is now “old news,” and HR departments are becoming more accustomed to dealing with sudden changes, HR teams still need to equip themselves with options that can adapt to our ever-changing circumstances. That’s why flexibility is a critical tool in the HR arsenal.
HR teams must reconfigure how they think about workplace policies to attract and retain top talent – a blanket, uniform hybrid policy won’t cut it. Organizations must offer hybrid tracks tailored to each employee’s needs to stay competitive.
This is no small feat for large companies with hundreds or even thousands of employees, and HR may need to employ innovative technologies to make this flexibility feasible. But offering greater flexibility regarding when, where, and with what support employees clock hours is critical in ensuring their productivity, wellbeing, and loyalty.
Hybrid work is here to stay, and companies must create long-term plans for making this new work environment work. Employers must lay the foundation now – by implementing new, creative initiatives and by offering more flexible services and amenities – that will keep employees’ cups full so that they not only want to stay longer but, more importantly, so that they feel inspired to create and do what they do best.
Gadi Royz is the CEO of anywell.
Get the top recruiting news and insights delivered to your inbox every week. Sign up for the Recruiter Today newsletter.