Bring up the phrase “hybrid workplace” two years ago and it might have caused some confusion. However, fast forward to a post-COVID world and the workplace landscape appears to be undergoing a seismic shift with this new standard of operating procedure becoming the way forward.
The hybrid workplaces model involves giving workers the freedom and flexibility to choose whether to work remotely, in-office or a mixture of the two — thus allowing workers to find what works best for them.
Following the spread of COVID-19 and the scramble to find ways to keep businesses up and running without the usual office-based attendance, we have seen a reluctance from the workforce to return to the old ways of working. A recent study found that 81% of workers would rather have a hybrid form of working or not go back to the office at all, leading many businesses to consider or implement the hybridisation process.
For many, it appears that the “new normal” has worked well and has forced businesses to consider their next move as a return to the office looms. Keep reading to learn how to make your traditional office an effective hybrid workplace.
How to Hybridise Your Workplace
One of the most critical and challenging aspects of creating a successful hybridised office culture is to ensure your workforce feels supported. Without face-to-face interactions with leadership and other team members, isolation can become a problem. You must frequently check in with your employees and there should always be open channels of communication, even while working remotely.
Processes and Protocols
The transformation into a hybridised workplace could be an opportunity to reinvent your business processes and protocols and affirm your organisation’s culture. As people adapt to working from somewhere other than the office, it is important to start implementing procedural changes to ensure that accountability is maintained and responsibilities clearly distributed and defined to achieve your objectives.
It is also essential to have a clear policy about which tasks require office attendance and what can be successfully completed remotely. Hybrid workers need to be aware of what you expect of them regarding working hours, availability and when a return to the office is required.
Training and Education
As ways of working change, so does the technology and equipment needed to carry out your day-to-day tasks. As meetings are swapped for video conferencing and watercooler conversations exchanged for online communication platforms, there will undoubtedly be a need for training and education. Not everyone will be familiar with the most up-to-date computer software or how to carry out tasks online instead of face-to-face — and there will be many legacy employees who do not know how to best utilise their time. Educating a workforce takes time and you’ll need to devise new training modules to ensure all employees have the same base knowledge.
Another aspect of training in a hybrid workplace involves helping employees to understand how best to use their flexibility to efficiently complete tasks. Some collaborative tasks will benefit from the engagement and encouragement of a person-to-person office interaction though this is not always necessary.
If there is one thing that will make your life easier through this transition to a hybrid workplace, it is technology. In order to navigate a safe and successful return to the office, there are plenty of considerations to take into account. As your workforce looks to divide its time between the office and home, you must decide where individuals will work while maintaining safe social distancing rules. This is where a workplace management system can make your workplace hybridisation simpler and safer by optimising desk utilisation.
When working from home, video conferencing is the answer. As many people have become more comfortable in front of the webcam during lockdown there has never been a better time to move meetings to the virtual space. Therefore, it is vital to invest in simple and effective video conferencing software that suits the needs of your business.
Why Hybridise Your Workplace?
It may seem a daunting thought, but now could be the optimal time to undertake the process of hybridisation to ensure your business’s long-term future. Although some companies may be reluctant to develop this new way of working, the evidence suggests that any downsides of hybridisation are far outweighed by the advantages.
For many employees, the increased flexibility and freedom of working remotely during the pandemic has meant more time with their families and an all-round better work/life balance. Parents who work long hours may get to see more of their children and foreign workers have the opportunity to spend extended periods back home. This kind of “job perk” means employees can fit their life around work instead of the other way around.
The aim of working smarter, not harder, has long been the target for businesses. Although hybrid forms of working require increased trust between employee and employer, businesses are reaping the benefits. A recent study by Stanford found that employees who work from home displayed a marked improvement in productivity, equating to a whole day’s work.
However, people also miss close contact and personal engagement with others when working at home, with 31% of people saying that they struggle with loneliness while working remotely. So from the point of view of employee well-being, striking a balance between office and remote work is a great way to ensure the happiness of your employees.
As for your business, with a hybrid office approach, employers can optimise their office space to suit the needs of a post-pandemic society. Vast office spaces are likely to become unnecessary with fewer employees fettered to their workplace, meaning that costs can be cut during a commercial downsizing. The reduced workspace should simply, safely facilitate the tasks and interactions that are difficult to carry out remotely.
So consider a hybrid workplace and start planning a future where everyone gets their way.