Hybrid working has taken the traditional workplace by storm and is continuing to shake up the traditional office. How do we communicate effectively? How can we enable better collaboration among peers? What’s the best technology to promote higher productivity, accountability, and efficiency– all this while being apart. How do we make working in different places work for every employee in the organization?
The talk of the future of work is pretty chaotic, and everyone is looking out for best practices, and experts’ advice to plan for the future. While hybrid work seems to be, as per reports, the future of work, this new way of working has its shortcomings. In order to make it work, organizations are looking at possible solutions to ensure they can move forward successfully.
How do we ensure “trust and belief” in the way we deal with each other?
Teams can’t function well when coworkers don’t trust one another. Building and maintaining trust in the traditional, physical workplace is difficult enough, but the process is even tougher in a virtual environment, where people often have to work with people they haven’t met in person.
“How do we ensure “trust and belief” in the way we deal with each other? This requires one to set aside time to engage individually and collectively, which is so much easier when in physical presence,” shares Sanjay Kao, Head HR, Ujjivan.
Employers are skeptical whether trust can be established in a virtual environment. How many employees can truly trust people they haven’t met in person? While the hard truth is that teams can’t function without trust, a lack of face-to-face interaction doesn’t automatically mean an environment of distrust. Proactive communication and more engaging conversations can ensure that trust will flourish within the virtual work model.
How to find the right balance of flexibility in hybrid working?
Working remote vs in an office. Combining these two opposing dynamics will reinvent our traditional work methods. Hybrid work is not just about an employee’s physical location, but also about their way of work, their habits, and overall efficiency. Finding the right balance between these two extremes and namely the corresponding level of hybrid work will be a decisive factor to a company’s success in the future.
“In the retail industry, most of our workforce is based at stores serving customers. Finding the right balance of flexibility and hybrid working across store colleagues and enabling functions in the office to drive engagement and a culture of collaboration and teamwork is a constant challenge in the new normal,” shares Mukta Nakra, Head HR, Marks & Spencers.
A company will have to generate customized solutions for every single employee by analyzing the environment they need to do their best work and the amount of personal contact, as well as the flexibility they require.
Are organizations really open to making fundamental shifts to the way they work?
Facing strong employee resistance and turnover, Google recently backtracked from its plan to force all employees to return back to the office, and allowed many to work remotely. Apple’s plan to force its staff back to the office has caused many to leave Apple and led to substantial internal opposition.
“Are organizations open to making fundamental shifts to the way they work and are willing to let employees choose their place of work based on effectiveness and deliverables? The above could save the planet huge carbon emissions, reduce congestion in cities, reduce pollution and create valuable time for people saved from the daily commute. Or are they too eager and quick to get back to known and tested ways of work?”, shares Harpreet Datta, Head COE- Talent Management, GMR Group.
According to a study, many executives are falling victim to a number of well-known psychological biases in their push to end remote working.
How to translate the same level of 'belongingness' in the virtual space
In a recent global survey of employees across industries, seventy-five percent of respondents reported feeling more socially isolated since the start of the pandemic. Sixty-seven percent of employees reported increased stress, and fifty-three percent said they feel emotionally exhausted. Further, in a global study led by Cognizant, which studied their full-time employees, respondents said fostering a sense of belonging at work significantly increased their motivation, commitment, emotional and physical well-being, and overall engagement. Ultimately, these feelings of belonging led to greater innovation and increased productivity.
“The biggest dilemma for us in the current scenario of work from home model is - the awesome work culture and bonding team members had in ETMONEY back in the office, how to translate the same level of 'belongingness' in the virtual space to ensure seamless engagement, motivation, and retention of our key talent,” shares Anita Bhatia, HR Director, Times Internet.
In the midst of so much uncertainty, it’s critical that organizations intentionally focus on nurturing a sense of belonging – feeling connected, included, valued, and welcomed.
Accenture’s Future of Work Study 2021 shows that sixty-three percent of high-growth companies have already adopted an “efficient anywhere” model. We have all learned that productivity is not dependent on a common physical location and while there are plenty of available digital tools, still, as HR leaders we need to find a way to redesign connections, collaboration, and business continuity in the new normal.
How one will answer these biggest dilemmas – Trust, Flexibility, Balance, Change, and Belongingness will become key to getting hybrid work right!
In a recent virtual roundtable, “Building an efficient work model with technology,” hosted by People Matters in collaboration with Workplace from Facebook, leaders across the industries came together to find answers to these dilemmas. One of the immediate steps to enable the hybrid work model was to focus on keeping trust, culture, and people's experience at the center of their communication strategy.
Ramkishore S, Vice President & Head - Human Resources, L&T Construction, during the session shared the importance of technology in enabling the right communication and collaboration among people who are working in different work setups – such as co-located or hybrid.
Ram shared the story of implementing Workplace from Facebook at L&T, wherein the management was skeptical of whether getting social media to work might hamper workplace discipline. However, today after four years, he says the employees at different levels collaborate seamlessly and indulge in engaging communication both professionally and personally. The company sees tremendous growth in productivity and engagement.
The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has compelled many companies to adopt a work-from-anywhere model but also shown how productivity is not dependent on a common physical location. The availability of a plethora of digital tools has enabled teams to stay connected, help them collaborate, and ensure business continuity. The key lies in pivoting the future of work dialogue from working at a fixed physical location to one that allows employees to do their best work from wherever they are.