Today, the modern workplace is a very innovative and creative mix of physical workspaces and advanced digital mediums. It is a collaboration between many concepts which many genius minds ideated to have the ideal workplace.
In the wake of the prevailing pandemic, we know that the world will never be the same again. People will be more cautious about hygiene and practice physical distancing for a long time. If we talk about the corporate sector or professional sphere, employers will have to build huge confidence in the workforce to return to the offices. This is where the Hybrid version of the workplace comes into existence.
Hybrid symbolizes a process of moving from traditional to agile, modern environments that support the changing work culture. Most companies have realized that adopting a hybrid workplace policy has big benefits, cost saving being the most prominent. Organizations with progressive outlook have started reinvesting a portion of savings back into the workplace. This reinvestment is supporting the employees to productivity improvements leading to improved top line.
Like any other new initiative, the hybrid workplace strategy and policy would also have its challenges. Few are listed below:
- Communication: The hybrid workplace would reshape the way we have been communicating. It would become more asynchronous. World would always be on. Writing everything down will be the new norm. This allows the documentation of any and all discussions to be available to employees in different time zones and also avoids any gap in understanding. The tone of the words used needs to focus on clarity, empathy and respect. Depending upon the nature of discussions i.e. review, sensitive and highly sensitive, we may have to use different platforms.
- Employees wellbeing and Engagement: The pandemic has been challenging to all businesses and employees on many levels. To keep the organization culture alive leaders, will have to ensure that the employees stay and feel connected. Employee well-being has taken on a new significance considering hybrid workplaces. Without being able to regularly monitor their team members in person, managers must make themselves available for employees to come to them with any concerns. Business leaders will have to provide holistic support based on individual drivers, fears and requirements. Organization-wide mental health training would be critical in helping to eliminate the stigma surrounding the subject. At a time when work routines are in flux, businesses may consider assigning mentors to give employees an additional point of contact if they are struggling.
- Employee Experience: The most significant outcome of implementing hybrid workplaces will be on Employee Experience. It is an opportunity of the Human Resources Function and Business to drastically improve employee engagement and satisfaction. Organizations must try to focus on infrastructural changes, modification in the working ways, and staying abreast of the latest technological advancements as well as adopting the same. Physical layout with airy sunny and green spaces may add a little spice in employee experience.
- Role of Human Resources Function: It should change from being a regulatory and compliance oriented to be the catalyst for cultural transformation. Human Resources and business leaders must focus on understanding the challenges that have arisen for the employees in the hybrid setting and set the tone for inclusivity by celebrating the differences of the employees at all levels. Encourage personal interaction and connection with colleagues and share stories that humanize leaders. Leaders must redefine the expected behaviors of leaders and employees to promote those that support hybrid work, like transparency and increased communication. Learning and development initiatives may be made one on one than in groups. The learning needs of the employees may have changed from the Pre Covid era to now. New, innovative, creative ways must be developed to ensure the right learning happens at the right time whether skill or on will.
- Compensation and benefits: Must include the wellbeing of employees especially under the prevailing circumstances and the uncertainty over how long would it continue? Work from Home which was one of the most sought-after benefit employees used to look for is no more an attractive option. The compensation and benefits ought to be an ever-evolving part of the business, they must be aligned and synergies must be created between the two i.e. Business Strategy and compensation and benefits strategy. In redesigning the Compensation and benefits the Organization must find out what is that the Employees are looking for, i.e. desires and aspirations. It must create the optimal balance among Financial, Non-Financial rewards and the growth opportunities, it should also consider the right mix, method and frequency of delivery of these rewards. If these issues are not handled with detailed attention, it may be perceived as only lip service.
- Real Estate: Organizations would plan for fewer employees in office on any given day, hence likely to move to relatively smaller offices. It is likely to impact on real estate especially in the commercial hub of any city. It would lead to cost saving for the organizations. Employees with clarity on the duration of complete Work from Home, are likely to shift to their home locations, it would raise further many challenges for the Real Estate companies.
- IT Infrastructure and Cyber Security: With recruitment, joining and onboarding happening virtually, the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) will become a norm sooner than later. The organizations will have to invest and scale up the IT infrastructure and cybersecurity to main the continuity and data secure. They realize its importance as any breach may cause loss of revenue and brand reputation.
Workplace transformation is not an overnight journey. It is a continuous journey of learning, re-learning and evolving the workplace which aligns the workplace with organizational vision and objectives. However, every journey of a thousand miles starts with small steps. Let’s ensure we are moving!