The world has reimagined itself with Technology and software at its core – in the last decade. Everything that we can imagine has taken an “As-A-Service” shape and form. Gone are the days of floppy drives and hard disks, your data is now resident on a secured cloud environment. Gone are the days when entertainment used to be about buying or renting video cassettes, its all a click of a button away using an online video subscription service.
While we have reimagined everything, the way we have gone about our work and organization has not changed much. The comfort of the “status quo” with respect to face-to-face interactions and the social quotient of working in an office space is difficult to let go. However, the COVID-19 pandemic left us with no choice but to reimagine the way we work and collaborate. The benefits that organizations have realized in the last six months in terms of cost savings are commendable. The impact is such that they have grown their bottom line due to savings in cost. This is especially true for companies that are human capital intensive.
That leads us to believe that “Work from anywhere” at the spoke complemented by a core office edifice at the hub is a model that may emerge now. With the leading technology behemoths in the world and in India declaring that they may have as high as 75% or more of their workforce operating remotely, this phenomenon is here to stay and grow.
However, working from office has its own benefits and a hybrid model is the need of the hour. The workplace is often a judicious mix of Gen X, Gen Y, and the millennial population and hence a hybrid model may be an apt solution to enjoy the best of productivity, operational efficiency, revenue growth and profits.
A few things that one needs to ensure to have an efficient Hybrid Workplace is as follows:
Hybrid Collaboration and Security:
Many organizations across the world have now allowed employees the choice of working from home or working at office. If employees need to be empowered with a hybrid model, it must be backed by robust technology and security. Unless every employee is empowered with a secure channel to connect with their respective teams at work and collaborate seamlessly, the hybrid workplace would be a non-starter.
Organizational Goals – Focus and Objectives:
For a successful remote or hybrid work model, it is imperative to ensure that all employees understand and are aligned with organizational goals and objectives. Employees at all levels need to be made aware of their contribution in the organization. To practise this effectively, employees’ contribution should be valued in terms of output or delivery rather than the routine work hours. The goals must be set in terms of output. The Human Resources division needs to play a critical role in enabling this across the organization. They must also facilitate periodic interaction with employees to ensure that they are constantly working towards such attainment.
Employees need to play their part
The significant role that employees play in ensuring the success of a hybrid work environment cannot be overlooked. For such a model to work, employees need to ensure constant connectivity with sufficient bandwidth. If they are working from a location that has frequent power cuts, they need to make sure they have adequate power backups. They need to make themselves available on calls during work hours, and communicate frequently with the team while keeping their manager updated at all times.
Empower periodic physical interactions
The team leaders and the human resources team must ensure that there is enough physical interaction among the teams. In a hybrid model, a period interaction at the office may ensure that the team builds on the camaraderie and cohesiveness and the hybrid working model gains more strength.
Let us now look at what are the advantages of a remote working model:
- Employees cut down on the commute time and cost of commute to and from work. The time (depending on the city you stay in) can be anywhere between 10% to 20% of the actual work hours. Now, isn’t that a lot? It can be cut down and re-deployed to actual work, the results would be extremely encouraging.
- The companies can save cost with respect to huge office spaces, centralized air-conditioning, administrative costs, etc. All this could be ploughed back into the business to turbocharge growth and enhance profits.
- Communication skills would see a fillip as employees can no longer be silent spectators but must communicate their views for the hybrid model to function effectively.
- Reduce attrition as employees would be empowered to strike a better work-life balance by channelling their commute time into productive activities and enhancing their health.
However, there could be some challenges too which we cannot ignore: -
- Excellent monitoring, reviews, and feedback mechanism - Unless the goals and attainments of employees are clearly etched out, monitored, and evaluated periodically, the hybrid model will not take off.
- Companies must also invest well into onboarding, employee engagement and retention to ensure that the model works well.
- Collaboration and periodic management interactions are critical else the employees will lack the much-required direction and guidance.
Hybrid workplaces have a large share of positives – both from the employee as well as the organization's perspective. The organization must do the following to ensure successful adoption of a hybrid workplace.
- Overcome the status quo and step out of the comfort that work from office provides.
- Accept it as a part of the new normal and use it as an opportunity to control attrition, drive growth and improve profits.
- Ensure Systems, Processes, Governance and Communication structures to make the hybrid model of work - effective and efficient