Remote working was the biggest trend in 2020. As the world has gone back to a relative normal, “hybrid working” is now the most popular working trend in the post-pandemic era.
As pandemic restrictions have eased, employers are asking workers back to the office at least once or trice a week, others have introduced a flexible working model where employees can choose if and when they will work at home. But how do you transition to hybrid working environment successfully?
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know before transitioning to a hybrid workplace.
How did the hybrid work model arrive?
During the pandemic, companies switched to the remote working model to simply keep their business running. As the pandemic and lockdowns lasted longer than anticipated, businesses found ways to make remote working work, from online meetings and remote working softwares, many businesses found ways to make it work. When the situation started to change, both employees and employers had to figure out a way to return to the office without risking safety.
This is where the hybrid work model was introduced.
4 challenges of the hybrid workplace
In this section, we’ll discuss the main challenges that the hybrid working model might bring, and how understanding them can help you with your transition to a flexible workplace.
Communication can be hard
Technology allowed businesses to continue through the pandemic with remote working, however, it comes with some issues. Internet connections are not always reliable. We all found ways to tackle this problem in a remote environment, but now, with hybrid working, some employee at home and some in the office, how is it possible to host online meetings and virtual conferences that could fit everyone? Will employees at the office log in from one computer, or should they join from different devices? And what about impromptu meetings? In-office employees could simply stop by each other’s desk and have a quick sync. But their at-home colleagues could be unavailable at that moment.
Proximity bias can cause significant issues
While the hybrid workplace can solve the problem of retaining employees, there’s a new challenge that needs to be addressed: proximity bias.
Proximity bias is the concept that the workforce with close physical proximity to other team members and company leaders will be considered more competent and will become more successful in the workplace than their remote coworkers.
This can cause a less inclusive workplace as both remote and hybrid employees feel like their efforts are not being fully acknowledged simply because they are less visible. Employees must have access to the same opportunities to flourish and grow. This is why proximity bias needs to be taken into consideration—and tackled—when planning a hybrid work environment for your company.
Creativity can be limited
It’s true that creativity levels rise when there are in-person encounters. For instance, social interactions, spontaneous conversations, seeing artwork or a nicely designed workspace, the commute to and from work, can all be essential creativity triggers. Staying at home every day, in the same space, without any external influences can drop creativity levels.
Tips to design a hybrid workplace that works
So how can we avoid the pitfalls and succeed in transitioning to a hybrid work environment.
Make clear communication a priority
As we mentioned, communication can be a real issue in a distributed workforce. Make sure you assign each channel to a specific communication purpose. For example, define what you will discuss via emails, on Skype, or on Slack. By simplifying the technological means of communication, you ensure smooth discussions between your in-office and at-home employees.
Invest in digital learning and tools
Not all employees are tech savvy make sure your workforce has all the tools they need to work at home or at the office, be it the proper equipment (laptop, keyboard, headset, etc.) or bandwidth. Provide a flexible way to learning with eLearning courses, that can be completed from home.
Don’t forget the company culture
It’s a big mistake to compromise company culture because of distance. This is why you should try and replicate as much as possible the overall atmosphere that exists in face-to-face encounters at the office. How can you do that? Learn more about diversity and inclusion in the workplace to promote an inclusive culture. Many companies have introduced bespoke eLearning courses. Bespoke courses are especially important during the onboarding process, where you can engage and immerse new recruits in the culture of your organisation, with all the relevant information they require.
Boost creativity and productivity
Productivity comes in different ways for different people. Some employees feel more creative and productive when working from the comfort of their own home, while others are more focused when they physically attend the office. As an employer, your goal is to give your employees all the tools they need to be productive no matter where they are located.
So, how can you make sure employees are happy, creative, and productive? Invest in productive workspaces, be it at home or at the office. Streamline processes with regular communication between teams, flexible online training, clear due dates, and identifiable project goals.
Is it worth following the trend?
There are a huge number of benefits of hybrid working, from increased employee motivation with flexible working and less overheads, but there are some challenges, but one thing the pandemic has taught us, is hybrid and remote working does work.
With the help of flexible eLearning solutions, employees are now offered the same opportunities and development wherever they are located.