Many organizations are switching to a hybrid model with no sign of returning to the good old 9-5, five days/week, any time soon. While the hybrid model has many benefits for the employee and the business. But it’s important to recognize hybrid work challenges, too, to be able to find a better structure and make it work.
Below, we highlight the benefits and challenges of hybrid working and why it is set to become the norm for the future.
Benefits of Adopting a Hybrid Working Model
Many organizations apply the hybrid working model since it provides a mix and match approach that offers multiple benefits. Every organization has their own reasons for adopting hybrid working, such as…
Focusing on Employee Well-being
Working from home, whether full or part-time, has become the norm. Many staff members have prioritized their well-being and family as a major perk. Employers have noticed a reduction in sick days and a boost in morale overall.
Many companies have moved the office to smaller units, paying much less rent than previous larger office spaces.
For employees, a reduction in travel time and costs is a huge bonus, especially for those who spend half their working hours at home.
Deliverables as a KPI
The older work model measured performance by assessing who sits most at their desks. But remote working removes the physical element.
Performance KPIs can be measured now by delivery times and results. Hybrid work means that productivity is based on outcomes rather than behaviours, providing managers with a much clearer output.
Bigger Talent Pool
Hybrid work models opened the hiring criteria to be more inclusive than before. Job openings can now attract talented employees from far and wide, which wouldn’t be possible without the hybrid model.
It also opened roles to candidates who require flexibility, due to childcare or other reasons. Companies can now hire the best talent with the chance to make their own working hours – which can also boost staff retention.
Hybrid Work Challenges
Hybrid work can differ by team, department, or organization. Different roles come with varying levels of expectation for an on-site presence.
Here are some of the most common hybrid work challenges and ways to address them to ensure that hybrid work becomes easier for everyone.
1- Employee Burnout
Working from home can positively impact employees. Many feel more productive and refreshed without having to commute.
In an office, taking breaks for a chat and enjoying the hour lunch break is part of the day. Meanwhile, At home, working through breaks or eating lunch in front of the computer is tempting. Overworking is a reality many faces as it can be hard to switch off at the end of the day, and the boundaries between work and home slowly disappear.
A recent study on employee engagement found that 80% of leaders reported that a hybrid working environment was exhausting for employees – and employees said that hybrid was more demanding than either full-time remote or full-time in-office.
- Managers and leaders must create opportunities for team members to discuss their health and well-being. This could be during one-on-one check-ins, virtual team coffee breaks, or even sessions with external wellness experts.
- Organizations must ensure managers have the skills to identify and support individuals struggling with mental health. Managers should not feel responsible for their team’s mental health (that’s for individual team members), but managers must know how to spot issues and what to say.
- One of the core benefits of hybrid working is allowing employees to work wherever best suits their needs by promoting flexibility.
2- Office Space and Overhead
Handling employee costs and expenses with hybrid work isn’t quite as straightforward as fully in-house employees. For instance, keeping a dedicated office with all its perks could waste resources.
Hybrid organizations must ensure that whatever office space they retain gives them the greatest ROI.
One of your best options is sharing an office space with another company. If you want to keep your offices, you can look into becoming more distributed with several smaller local offices instead of a big central office.
Deloitte is an example of companies that reduced its office space after Covid.
3- Employee Inequality
There could be inequality in the hybrid workplace due to different reasons.
Not everyone can work remotely. It can be not easy working from home if you don’t have a dedicated space or home office, so companies can’t ensure equality.
Hybrid work can create an uneven playing field, where employees in the office more than others are more likely to get recognition and promotions. Otherwise, employees who spend most of their time working remotely could feel isolated from conversations and decisions because they’re not physically in the office.
The problem of proximity bias is real and can cause other hybrid work challenges that can cause burnout, frustration, and resentment.
According to recent statistics, people working from home were 38% less likely to receive a bonus than those working in the office.
- Managers must ensure equality between remote and in-person performance. Without equality, the hybrid model will start to fail as employees recognize the link between being in the office and their professional success.
- Opportunities for growth and recognition must be available to everyone, regardless of how they work. Organizations need to balance the experience for all workers and remember to offer everyone a choice.
- It’s vital that all employees feel included at work. Plan company events with hybrid top of mind, potentially combining more significant in-person get-togethers.
4- Communication Glitches
Poor communication slows workflow, leaving workers confused or missing out on important information. But achieving effective communication across distances can be a challenge.
A lack of open communication hurts employee morale. Communication challenges in the hybrid workplace usually exist when there isn’t an agreed-upon policy or communication style.
- Hybrid businesses must establish new communication channels to ensure important information is received and understood by those who need it. When the right channels and structures are found, communication is never disruptive.
- All formal communication should be delivered in person, written, and recorded so employees can receive the messages.
- A few events require employees to attend in person. Creating an open connection between office-based and remote workers is essential for events.
- Find creative solutions to encourage team communication, such as brainstorming solutions together. Looping employees into the brainstorming process shows that you value input and collaboration.
5- Lack of Defined Hybrid Work Policies
A hybrid work is not a one-size-fits-all. It could be choosing which days of the week to work from home: Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday. This means weekly meetings and client presentations can be scheduled for those days.
It can mean lots of things, creating room for miscommunication and frustration. Organizations need clear communication on hybrid policies.
For a hybrid model to work, you need a strong policy. This can vary for different companies, but generally, it involves re-onboarding your entire team. Setting clear expectations and investing in emotional connection as soon as possible is crucial.
Including employees in developing your hybrid policy will ensure their retention. As their feedback, so the organization would know what works for them.
6- Losing Culture
Organizational culture happens when employees enjoy the perks of working, communicating and attending in-person events. But as your organization moves to hybrid, you must build and maintain a remote-compatible culture by retaining a positive workplace culture and keeping teams connected, whether at home or in the office.
Almost 66% of workers say that having friends in the workplace makes their job more enjoyable. A lack of personal relationships can also manifest in feelings of isolation and loneliness.
According to McKinsey, having small moments of engagement among your team is key to creating a positive work culture. Workers who have the opportunity to make connections through teamwork, mentorship, and brainstorming form deeper relationships with their colleagues and achieve higher productivity levels.
- Companies that want to continue attracting and retaining top talent must work harder to maintain remote-compatible cultures. This will improve productivity and drive stronger business outcomes.
- Introduce regular social interactions, both on-site and virtual. For existing employees, encourage interacting through Slack or Teams channels. Groups discussing work-related topics or interests outside work like hobbies or sports to better get to know one another lay the foundation for lasting friendships.
- Plan a virtual meet-and-greet for new employees. Plan an easier and seamless onboarding process by assigning a work buddy to provide introductions and teach them how to log into different systems or use work tools and techniques.
- Evaluate your strategies by asking employers for feedback. Check-in with employees continually to determine what’s working and isn’t.
7- Management and Collaboration
To successfully navigate the challenges of hybrid work, leaders need to have an agile mindset.
Managing a Hybrid Team
Managing teams in different locations can be challenging, especially ensuring employees have the same opportunities.
Management of hybrid employees can get tricky, both from the point of view of managers and employees. It can be tough for managers to properly do their job without in-person interaction and provide accurate feedback, collaboration, and work satisfaction.
If not executed carefully, hybrid working can lead to a misalignment between employees working in the office and those working remotely.
- One of the main appeals of a hybrid model is the balance between autonomy and collaboration. Promoting a culture of trust is essential to managing hybrid employees.
- Frequent communication through well-established channels is also key. It greatly helps if you have well-thought-out management tools.
Traditional Workplace Bias
A hybrid work environment might not be a preference (or even ridiculed) by managers and employees soaked in traditional office culture.
Remote employees can pick up on these resentment feelings, adding to the sense of isolation and lack of connection with the on-site team.
While many studies show that the average remote employee worked 1.4 more days every month (16.8 more days annually) than those working in the office, some managers still question the validity of hybrid work.
- Team leaders and managers must have regular check-ins and catch-ups with their employees. Not only to connect on work progress but also to guide professional development and understand employees’ stress levels.
- For the successful execution and normalization of hybrid work, those misconceptions must end. Leaders must accept the value of their hybrid workforce and its contribution. Managers must learn to value everyone’s contributions equally.
Establishing Collaboration and Connection
Collaboration is key to a quality and successful hybrid team. Leaders must find a way to re-establish a sense of collaboration across a distance.
One way to foster deep connections is through events and activities. Those can create memorable moments and reinforce employee bonds away from their usual working location and schedule.
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