Neeru Mehta, VP - People Development & Learning, Head of Human Resources, GlobalLogic India highlights some of the challenges in the world of the hybrid workplace. The industry expert points out the need of the hour for HR leaders in the industry and why employee experience is the most important element for this new workplace.
What are your thoughts on the concept of a hybrid workplace?
This global pandemic has brought about a paradigm shift in the way companies will carry out their operations in the future. Several organizations have started thinking of creating a hybrid workforce, part of which can work remotely, and part of which can come to the office as and when needed. According to a recent survey conducted by the business communications tool, Slack among office workers from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia, the hybrid model has been a favorable model in all the organizations where it has been implemented. Our thoughts are very clear- when defining Hybrid strategies, we must consider every segment of our workforce, and provide all our employees with tailored, personalized experiences that will engage, support, and incentivize them. It is clear that there is an increasing need for business and HR leaders to engage with their employees around this future vision of work — welcoming their input, sharing ideas, and having meaningful and honest conversations with them
What are some challenges you foresee in implementing a hybrid workplace?
From the rise of the gig economy to managing a multigenerational workforce, the challenges businesses now face are more complex than ever. Businesses all over the world know they need to prepare for the disruption to come, and they are ready to embrace these new technologies to become more efficient and deliver enhanced experiences to their customers and employees. Employers themselves need to be completely clear about how they will recruit, retain, and reward the very best talent in the future. Some of the outlining challenges I foresee in implementing hybrid workplace are as below:
- Working too much: remote workers are more likely to overwork. When your personal life and your work is both under the same roof, it is harder to switch off.
- Diminished line between work and home, an overlap which is creating more harm than gains.
- Time zone difference is a big challenge with a hybrid workforce. It reduces the cohesion that develops through real-time collaboration. One cannot ask or expect a team member to wake up early or stay up late for team meetings.
- Feeling of isolation or loneliness in the hybrid workforce due to lack of in personal Interactions. Lack of personal touch and no social life will become a challenge.
- Communication Issues and Being Out of the Loop: When the bulk of your communication happens via email, it does not take much for people to misinterpret others' communication unless everyone is making their best effort to the contrary. At times people forget to loop in the right stakeholders, which results in poor collaboration.
What kind of a workplace model are you considering for your organization? Do you foresee any major changes?
Choosing a workplace model is going to be a Business decision that will depend on working norms and their effect on culture and performance.
I do feel, for a technology-centered organization like ours, we were always virtual-ready, however, the pandemic accelerated it to a 100% shift which is serving us well in the current crisis but is not ideal from a long term perspective, a mixed model reaping benefits of both the worlds is where we plan to converge on.
Industry types like ours- a semi-virtual model or a balanced approach will work best. Changes happening are majorly due to the work from the home situation being forced. It just came in and we had no option but to grab it and run with it. People are now getting comfortable in the current scheme of things and moving them back to work is going to be a big change management exercise too. The message for business and HR leaders is clear: they must give more consideration to how they can best protect, prepare, excite, and empower their people during this transition and beyond.
Finally, to get the Human to Hybrid transition right, organizations must focus on optimizing the employee experience and make this their guiding principle. It is only by providing their people with personalized experiences and opportunities, and by offering them genuine flexibility, variety, and learning, that organizations can build the human workforces they will need to thrive in a hybrid future.
How are you thinking about employee experience in a hybrid workplace?
The modern work world is a collaboration of innovative physical workspaces and advanced digital mediums. It is a mix of the multiple concepts that different mindsets have had about an ideal workplace. With a hybrid model coming into play, employee experience is going to be at the center of each and every strategy be it your Business or People.
Employee Engagement will no more only be a physical meeting, team collaboration, group meeting sessions. It will mean virtually connecting with everyone and enable them to thrive towards the same goal. Your employees relish the same kindness and grace towards them that you show to your customers, they are struggling through the crisis too- and expect empathy. It is the time to keep Employees in the center, show that you care, build a relation which will create an everlasting bond. Yet amidst the crisis, the company’s purpose should remain steadfast, purpose is where the heart and mind unite. Work from home stress is a reality and hence Employee Wellbeing has to be our top priority.
There will be many “knowns and unknowns” in the months ahead. Companies will need to be Agile, continue to learn, improve, and accept that nothing will be perfect and will evolve. The risk of losing their job to a machine is not the employees’ biggest concern. They are more apprehensive about the cultural implications of working in a hybrid workforce environment, and a potential lack of human interaction. Beyond this, they are concerned and skeptical about a number of things, including accountability, recognition, diversity, and career progression.
3 key drivers of workforce management that are and will be vital for organizations in the future and will impact employee experience by all means:
- Employee Wellbeing & Talent Management Strategies
- Digital Capabilities
- Engage with your Business Ecosystem
What are some successful workplace practices that you would like to continue once-remote work is over?
The positive outlook of these unprecedented times is that all of us have our creative heads on at all times. Starting from the business teams to the People Teams, everyone keeps employee experience at the center in anything or everything they do, which in turn has yielded a lot of creative and meaningful interventions which we would like to continue. Flexibility- the kind of flexibility we have right now, was not there earlier this is something which all of us expect to continue. Those Digital dashboards which keep us true to the data and timelines, Training/Learning Interventions which necessarily do not require you to be present in one room, Daily standups which keeps all of us updated about what's happening at large. These are some of the practices that we must continue to ensure a best-in-class employee experience. Above all, the zeal to make it happen and attitude to come out as a winner must remain.