Evolving talent demands are challenging traditional workplace practices, requiring leaders to redesign existing work arrangements to make room for flexibility. MSMEs, start-ups and fast-growing organisations need to gear up for this change as hybrid becomes the new normal and organisations are looking to drive better performance.
The evolving models of work
With Covid, almost every organisation went through continuity planning due to the remote working. “Two years hence, hybrid has evolved as the most feasible working model”, shares Kshitiz Sachan, Process Strategist, Keka.
Several reports have indicated that employees are favoring a hybrid working with some days work-from-office, and some days work-from-home. Aligned to employees' demand, many companies are operating in a hybrid model.
With shifting employee choices, HR leaders are compelled to strategise hybrid models to make it a win-win for both employee and employer. Hybrid boosts productivity, lowers office costs, and drives more efficiency. This demands a readiness for hybrid, which means organizations need to deeply understand the nature of the workforce and learn how to connect people to the culture and purpose of the organisation.
The Future is Hybrid
“The old normal will not come back, hybrid will stick as a sustainable solution”, shares Kshitiz.
Fynd’s six-monthly survey evaluates what people think about working models:
- Work-from-office (33.3%): A young workforce prefers work-from-office to socialize and experience the office culture.
- Remote work (33.3%): People who moved from metros to their hometowns and are continuing working from there.
- Hybrid work (33.3%): People want the flexibility of 2-3 days of work-from-office plus work-from-home to connect with leads and teams.
Some of the concerns expressed by employees with respect to full office-working are safety concerns around Covid, commute times, travel expenses, proximity bias, relocation from hometowns, and work-life balance. Considering this, 74% of Indian employers agree that hybrid working is the way forward and hence the need to select a suitable hybrid working model.
- Flexible hybrid work models: Offers flexibility of location, working hours and working days.
- Fixed hybrid work model: Employees work-from-office team-by-team on defined days
- Office-first hybrid work model: Full-time work-from-office with 4-5 days per month work-from-home.
- Remote-first hybrid work model: Full-time remote working with once a week or month, employee gatherings at office for brainstorming meetings.
At Fynd, the leaders and teams can themselves choose the model basis their nature of work. For example, the engineering team requires extensive collaboration to build new technology products, hence they follow the office-first hybrid work model.
The finance and business teams have a flexible hybrid work model. The people success team follows the fixed hybrid work model, designating three days work-from-office for training and employee engagement events, and the rest two days work-from-home.
“Also, to facilitate relocation problems, we have set up regional offices in new cities so that people need not relocate to Mumbai, but could choose a nearby office to work from”, shares Nishigandha S, Manager, People Success, Fynd. Other flexibility aids are doing away with in-time and out-times and flexible working hours and days.
Making the hybrid model work for high performance:
The success of the selected hybrid model is ensured for everyone by designing the right policies and procedures:
- Fynd’s continuous learning-continuous growth policy ensures high-output teams. A dedicated L&D team plans monthly learning sessions and defines learning goals attached to the KRAs, across levels. This, with the right growth opportunities helps develop and grow talent from within, thereby aiding retention.
- Workcations: Entire teams go to a tourist destination for a week for brainstorming and team-building sessions. “This has helped bring in most of our new ideas for new businesses and new products”, says Nishigandha.
- Workweeks: Teams convene at the head office for a week to discuss plans and strategies.
- Leadership Summits: Every six months, founders spend time with each lead and discuss roadmaps, training etc. This helps align leaders to the company’s and founder’s vision and hence keeps leaders and teams motivated.
- Co-working options: To assist remote workers to meet up occasionally and collaborate, Fynd has tied up with co-working spaces that employees can choose to work from.
- Performance management: Fynd’s OKR management tool cascades goals from company to team to lead to individual, helping track performance while minimizing the proximity bias which is a real remote-working challenge.
- Well-being: A dedicated wellbeing team works towards curating initiatives for building better health for people, including flexibility options.
To realise the advantage of these initiatives in a hybrid environment, it is critical to instill the core organisational values that shall drive the right behaviours of leaders and teams in alignment with the company objectives.
“At Fynd, we have built an employee culture book which gives remote joiners an idea of what to expect from the company”, mentions Nishigandha.
People develop people
The right culture curry can be propagated by choosing adequate stakeholders or custodians for the selected hybrid model.
HR must build person-specific accountabilities along with strong foundational pillars such as people safety, continuous performance frameworks, recognition platforms, competency frameworks, learning avenues, etc .
According to Kshitiz, this requires technology investment across HR job functions. “After Covid, most manual functions went directly to the end-user rather than routing through HR. So we built in a remote shift-scheduler in our system which people could leverage to make their hybrid models work”, says Kshitiz.
However, the success of remote-centric HR technology revolves more around softer elements, from collaborations to identifying the right trigger points, so that the end-user is empowered. For this to happen, leaders must continuously listen in through surveys, understand, and then create a plug-and-play solution centered on hybrid best practices. Due to remote and hybrid, there is a loss of relationship between the employer and employee, hence building a bridge is essential to help ‘people develop people’.
HR leaders can build this bridge by developing consistent curiosity to identify the problem, followed by the right metrics such as employee happiness index, employee growth index etc. for understanding how people look at the employer. This will help leaders take conscious strategic decisions, according to the pulse of employees and reinvent their talent models for business growth.