With the global outbreak of coronavirus initiating the largest work from home experiment, many businesses are now turning that global phenomenon into a permanent reality by switching to a new working model, called hybrid working.
What is hybrid working
So, what is hybrid working? As lockdown restrictions change, many employees are not in the office full time and are moving between their traditional desk and their home office on a weekly basis. This mix of office-based work and working from home or another location is called hybrid working. Hybrid work tends to include more freedom around when and where to work. Moreover, it grants more autonomy to employees to fit work around the rest of their lives, rather than structuring other parts of a weekday around hours spent in an office.
Why the hybrid working model could be the solution
As rules around working from home get lifted or change, managers should be aware that employee expectations around how they work have significantly changed too. Staff who work productively at home are likely to strongly resist managers enforcing limitations on where and when they do their work. Therefore, companies must be prepared for employee resistance if managers try to force their teams back to exactly the way things were before. That’s why companies should redesign their business processes.
Considering hybrid model as the alternative way out of this issue, it allows much greater flexibility for employees to do their jobs from the locations where they’re most efficient and productive.
So, what should HR teams and managers be considering as they plan for this new way of working?
Many organisations spend years building the culture of their company. But how do you not only reinforce that culture, but also build on it too in a newly hybrid working world without working from home affecting it?
Engaging and ensuring you have regular weekly team catch-ups could be a great way to work on building further and maintaining your company culture. Make sure that not all video calls and online team meetings are strictly work-related. Having fun and sharing success should be a key aspect in any workplace culture. So, use technology in a smart way to ensure adequate communication as well as the sharing of good news stories across the business.
When all of your workforce isn’t present in the office, inclusion becomes more important than ever. Just because you can’t see someone, that doesn’t mean they don’t set an equal part of the team. Furthermore, those who do return into the office will likely have different experiences or viewpoints due to the pandemic. Therefore, making sure that inclusion tactics and strategies are in place is crucial to making hybrid working work successfully.
Learning and development
Another key area is to think of how you can ensure that your company leaders are equipped to deal with this new way of working? Hence training programmes must prepare them with the necessary tools to manage a hybrid workforce. In addition, the same applies for the rest of your workforce. Consider whether your existing training is sufficient for your employees and the skills they will need in this new era of work. So, adapt the training you already have to complement this new era of work and the skills needed.
Collective responsibility is crucial to ensuring the workplace is a safe place for every employee. Every employer has a responsibility to make sure all their employees are as safe as possible and that all the necessary measures are in place around physical distancing, health, and hygiene to protect the staff. However, it requires every single person to share that collective responsibility. So, this notion is about emphasising that every individual has their part to play in creating an environment that brings everyone together safely.
Open communication and trust
The first phase of lockdown has demonstrated the power of open and ongoing communication. Even when little new information is available, regular contact reinforces a sense of connectivity and shared experiences.
In the absence of regular face to face contact where communication is much needed, trust becomes more important than ever. Employers and managers have now the opportunity to build on their communication style and explicitly state their gratitude to hard-working employees as well as share confidence in team members in being successful.
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