Since the time pandemic upended our lives, employees around the world have settled into a mandatory remote work business model. At present, companies are managing work models in varied ways. Some have given employees permission to continue working remotely until at least 2021. Others have recalled staff to the workplace on different schedules and in staggered groups. Still, others are leaving it entirely up to individual workers to decide where to base themselves.
It’s evident that both employers and employees don’t want to stuff the genie entirely back into the bottle.
But given the varied nature of industries and job roles, mandatory remote work would not assure 100 percent business productivity and efficiency. In fact, businesses around the world have started to think about the longer-term ‘hybrid workplace model’.
However, workplace transformation is not something that can be accomplished in a matter of months or even a year, it is a journey. If you have started this journey or exploring the idea of a hybrid workplace model, here is a quick guide to shaping your ‘hybrid’ workplace strategy.
A hybrid workplace in its simplest form can be defined as a combination of remote work with office work. In its typical avatar, it can be viewed as the onsite presence of essential staff with others free to come and go as they please, within reason. It could also be staggered working hours with different people present on different days or times. Or, there may simply be specific days where employees are requested to attend in-person meetings.
Employers have started to realize that employees are just as productive from home as they would have been in the office. Besides increased productivity, organizations are saving substantial capital on real-estate that can be utilized for technology upgrades and other business requirements. The model focuses on acquiring critical skills that provide a competitive advantage and can be remotely located in a low-cost location. A hybrid workplace is a win-win for both concerned parties, shares Dimple Kaloya, Senior Vice President and Regional Head of HR Consulting at HSBC Operations, Services, and Technology Centers.
Why a hybrid workplace?
Take this example of Automattic, an American global distributed company which was founded in August 2005 and is most notable for WordPress.com. The company 1,277-workforce was entirely remote, even before the coronavirus hit. The workforce was offered perks that include reimbursing expenses to set up workers’ home offices. However, it didn’t expect employees to work in isolation every day. It offers a monthly stipend to be used towards co-working spaces (day passes or ongoing membership) or coffee shops (WiFi costs, coffees). The social highlight of the year is the GM — or Grand Meet-up — where staff from 76 countries speaking 95 different languages, get together for a week of keynote sessions, workshops, team sessions, socializing focused on strategy, learning, and team bonding.
Employees were encouraged to eat with different colleagues every night to meet people outside their teams.
Automattic’s is a great example for organizations who are in an attempt to reduce their office space and accommodate employees’ desire for flexibility, are looking for a different work model– mixing remote and office work — or hybrid working.
“The average office commute time in India is 55 mins, one way. Depending on the job function, working from the office 2-3 days per week ensures huddling with the teammates in person and the focus time during work from home,” says Deepesh Agarwal, CEO of WorkInSync, a SaaS product suite that enables hybrid workplaces.
How to make a hybrid workplace work?
Regardless of how your organization implements hybrid work, it’s important to orchestrate employees’ work arrangements with productivity concerns in mind. For example, if some employees are coming to the office, it’s important to think about which employees would benefit from being in the office together. Collaboration is a strong driver of productivity and positive office culture, so it makes sense to bring employees who regularly collaborate into the office together at the same time.
But productivity isn’t the only factor to consider as you develop a hybrid model. It’s also critical to take convenience into account. Some employees might prefer to work remotely, while others may have caregiving responsibilities that make coming to the office very difficult. Consider basing office attendance solely on necessity: If a staff member has some responsibility that really needs to be fulfilled in the office, then it makes sense to mandate their presence. If, on the other hand, an employee can easily fulfill the day’s tasks from home, it might be best to ask them to work remotely as a safety precaution.
As part of guaranteeing that productive experience, employers must invest in a tech stack that supports strong collaboration, employee engagement, and project management across remote and on-site work environments. The benefits of implementing a robust tech stack also extend far beyond the current pandemic. Establishing this infrastructure allows the business to consider remote hiring options for future positions, giving it the ability to easily and cost-effectively extend its footprint — and its talent pool — without building a new company office.
“We must reimagine our workspaces to seamlessly orchestrate work from anywhere. A cultural shift is needed to drive higher levels of trust, empathy, ownership, and transparency”, remarked Vinay Nijhawan, Senior VP, Human Resources, WorkInSync.
Hybrid workspace is just the first step to a fully agile, modern workplace portfolio. Your first efforts need to be chosen carefully so you can learn from the experience and apply that intelligence to future projects.
To know more about how to implement the right hybrid workplace, attend People Matters and WorkInSync, powered by MoveInSync, webcast Getting started with the Hybrid Workplace: The future of work on 26th November. Register here to block your seats for this insightful session here.