Now and Next of Work: navigating the hybrid world of work
The pandemic influenced the business models of most companies. To continue operating, businesses implemented work-from-home policies. This meant that many increasingly relied on hybrid workplaces during the epidemic's third wave, with employees working remotely with occasional visits to the office. As things look entirely normal, businesses begin to design their return-to-office strategy. However, a strong business case, HR automation, and changed employee expectations have made hybrid work arrangements a crucial part of HR strategy in most companies.
The Future of Work
Hybrid workplaces are here to stay. According to the 2021 Nascomm Return to Workplace Survey, 83% of companies with more than 1,000 employees are likely to adopt a hybrid approach to work. Additionally, 40% of employees plan to work from their workplaces just a few days per week. Throughout the epidemic, remote workplaces' reduced costs and increased productivity have helped businesses and individuals. Without compromising employee involvement or company culture, hybrid workforce models may strengthen resilience, improve employer branding, promote agility, and result in cost savings. Through the appropriate technology infrastructure and contemporary HR practices, businesses seek to achieve the optimal balance between on-site and remote working environments.
How have Hybrid Workplaces Evolved?
Hybrid workplaces have evolved from being a benefit for employees to being the norm across enterprises.
Remote Workplaces: The onset of the pandemic required the shutdown of workplaces and the adoption of entirely remote working methods. Online video sessions replaced work-related and casual team interactions typical of a physical office setting. Businesses use cloud-based automation tools and video call technology to assist staff complete jobs efficiently.
Flexible Scheduling: Businesses first focused on replicating an office working pattern in a remote setting. They utilised monitoring techniques to guarantee that workers participated and were kept online during office hours. Most HR teams soon understood that employees needed flexible schedules due to the pandemic's increased family obligations. Technology and HR regulations have included flexibility in work hours as they have progressed.
Soft Opens: Businesses have started to reopen their workplaces with some limitations as the pandemic fades. While coming to the office may not be mandatory, it is encouraged for roles that require in-office collaboration, customer proximity, or specialised infrastructure.
Remote-First Hybrid Models: Most company executives do not wish to return entirely to in-office work due to the tremendous cost and performance advantages of remote working for individuals and organisations. Businesses choose hybrid models for positions that allow remote work and flexible hours.
Managing A Hybrid Workplace
According to Mckinsey's research, although nine out of ten executives envision a hybrid model of work in the future, 68% do not have a detailed plan for implementing hybrid workplaces. It is tougher to manage hybrid workplaces than in-office or fully remote environments. Following are some best practices for hybrid workplace management,
1. Personalise Hybrid Work Policies
It is not prudent to dictate a one-size-fits-all approach with fixed work-from-home days or hours. Instead, allow employees to choose in-office days and timings based on their lifestyle and personal commitments.
2. Build a Culture of Trust and Autonomy
Managers must provide clear, measurable performance goals and adopt an outcome-based approach to evaluating their team members. In addition, managers should rely on employees to be productive by making their own scheduling choices rather than micromanaging them.
3. Focus on Automation
Invest in HR software that facilitates employee collaboration, feedback, and engagement. Also, you must ensure your remote workplace software offers top-notch security protocols and complies with multi-location data privacy regulations.
4. Empower Managers
Managers must be given the power, resources, and training necessary to lead teams in hybrid work environments by their leaders. Managers must be able to establish team-specific standards, accept requests for flexible scheduling, and authorize the purchase of home office supplies.
Hybrid Workplace Technology
Your hybrid workplace model drives the underlying technology infrastructure required to support it. There are four main types of hybrid models. They depend on
- whether your team members work at the same time (synchronous) or at different times (asynchronous)
- whether your team members work from one location (collocated) or from separate places (distributed)
While a synchronous, colocated team amounts to a conventional office environment, specialized technologies are required to cater to the rest three hybrid models:
- For distributed teams working synchronously, telepresence and video-conferencing technology take centre stage.
- For colocated teams working asynchronously, shift-scheduling tools and hotdesking apps are crucial.
- For distributed teams working asynchronously, shared collaboration apps and communication tools such as Slack are critical.
Following are some of the crucial areas that you must automate to power your hybrid workplace environment:
HR Teams can use recruitment management software for handling end-to-end hiring cycles. Automated resume screening, interview scheduling, virtual video interviews, and online skill assessment tests enable an end-to-end remote recruitment process.
2. Collaboration and Communication
Automated meeting schedulers, virtual whiteboards for brainstorming, and shared document editors enable effective collaboration. In addition, video conferencing tools, asynchronous messaging apps, and internal social media ensure streamlined team communication.
HR teams must rely on payroll software to tackle compliance challenges related to multi-geography payroll and tax calculations in hybrid work operations. Automated time-keeping, overtime approvals, and self-service portals for employees ensure a hassle-free payroll process.
4. Asset Administration
Remote working necessitates assigning employees with company assets such as laptops, mobile phones, and workstation furniture. Automation tools can help HR teams track and manage these assets across locations.
5. Performance Management
Performance Management in a remote environment can be challenging. However, automating the same via performance management software that enables clear goal-setting, real-time visibility into performance, and automated reminders for regular manager interactions help execute performance appraisals without any year-end surprises.
Employee Engagement in a Hybrid Workplace
Maintaining involvement and business culture might be difficult with less in-person contact. However, businesses can develop emotional bonding among their staff through carefully thought-out communication strategies, incentive schemes, and collaboration platforms. Employee engagement software can be of immense help. Here are some other tips for recruiting and retaining top talent in hybrid environments with thriving employee engagement:
1. One-on-One Video Interactions
Employees frequently get distracted during these online talks, even though such management interactions benefit office environments. Person-to-person meetings that are brief and precisely focused boost output and offer much-needed respite from multitasking.
2. Frequent Check-ins and Feedback
Managers should monitor employees' emotional and mental health and ask for feedback on the hybrid workplace. They must be more deliberate about expressing gratitude, highlighting achievements, and celebrating them with staff members.
3. Regular Offline Meetups
Companies can use regular office meetings to manage projects requiring extensive in-person idea-sharing or controversial discussions. Offsites or activities unrelated to business also promote teamwork and lessen virtual overload.
4. Accelerated Offline Induction
New-hire orientation is one of the most crucial moments where employees feel seen by the organisation for the first time. Post-pandemic, many enterprises opt for a shorter, more intense induction program in the office, followed by virtual introductions with remote teams.
Why is Hybrid the Future of Work?
Mental well-being and flexibility have become non-negotiable components of the employee value proposition. Therefore, automation initiatives aligned with long-term hybrid work strategies are a must for enterprises to retain talent. Enterprises that can leverage cutting-edge HR technology applications for streamlining employee collaboration in hybrid environments will continue to reap the benefits of increased productivity and improved employer branding.