The year 2020 will never be forgotten in the history of this world. The pandemic was unprecedented in ways no one could have ever imagined. Within just six months of its advent, people all around the globe were forced to sit at home. Consequently, businesses were shut, economies shrunk, millions lost their jobs and their lives, and above all, normalcy appeared to be a distant dream.
However, this period of extreme uncertainty also helped us discover our ability to quickly adapt to the changes emerging around us. Despite innumerable challenges thrown at us, we developed some innovative ways to navigate our way through the chaos, all the while unveiling a new normal.
When social gatherings met a pause, internal bonds grew on a deeper side,
When education limited to home learning, digital technology went on a ride,
Where health used to be the concern of few, it soon became the living guide.
Other than the covid-infected cases, the pandemic period indeed amplified the adoption of digital technology. Overnight, the companies and businesses instructed the employees to switch to a work-from-home or work-from-anywhere setup. As a result, they were introduced to those advanced online applications and engagement tools that almost seemed unimaginable earlier. WFH or WFA completely redefined our personal lives and workspace. The amount of flexibility, ease, and feasibility it offered to both the employer and the employee led to its widespread acceptance and usage.
Now after two years, the gradual shift to the back-to-office work model hasn’t really been welcomed by everyone. According to a study conducted by the job site SCIKEY, 82% of respondents revealed that they prefer working from home in the current scenario. Clearly, WFH is no longer an option but a preference that every prospective hire demands from their employer.
However, it wouldn’t be wrong to admit that full-time remote work isn’t really a sustainable choice for every business. And not just the employers, even the employees need some in-office experience to learn from the mentors, form healthy relations, and head-on face the challenges in order to grow. This is why corporations must envision and implement a hybrid model as the future of work.
What constitutes a hybrid work model?
In simple words, a hybrid setup allows an employee to enjoy the best of both worlds. They receive the flexibility to work a certain portion of their week from home or any other location and spend the remaining time in the office. What makes this work model highly preferable is that it doesn’t follow an all-encompassing approach. Hence, it can be easily customized as per the diverse needs of every firm. For instance, some companies have asked their employees to work at least three days from the office, whereas, for the employees situated far away, alternate in-office and remote work weeks are being recommended. Irrespective of the approach, there are a plethora of benefits associated with a hybrid work mode.
Why is the hybrid model here to stay?
Needless to say, the employees have become acquainted with the amount of flexibility they gained during the tumultuous pandemic period. However, it isn’t just about an employee’s preference and ease. The hybrid model ensures increased productivity, continuous learning, better relationships, and improved abilities to cope with uncertainties for everyone. The global economy still needs plenty of time to recover from the aftermath of Covid. And only a model as advanced as a hybrid can speed up the recovery process.
Companies like Tata Steel, Ceat, ITC, Mahindra Finance, and Forbes Marshall have already started offering flexible work options, including hybrid working, permanent remote working, work-from-anywhere, and work-from-home to boost employee retention. Clearly, an employee’s level of comfort is being greatly valued in the current work scenario. Especially after the wave of Great Resignation, every organization is moving forward strategically to level up its game and attract the best from the available talent pool.
Still wondering how exactly hybrid is the next game-changing move? Here are some benefits for you to check out
- Increased employee satisfaction – With the increased convenience delivered by the hybrid work model, the employees automatically feel energetic and display the zeal to complete their targets. This is one work model which assures that each individual’s work-based needs get fulfilled. For instance, some generate excellent results while working from home, whereas, others need a distraction-free cubicle to complete their tasks on time. It is this fluidity in the work culture that improves employee satisfaction, which in turn accelerates overall productivity levels.
- Better work relationships – It goes without saying that in-person communication or collaboration plays a significant role in building healthy work relationships. Even though virtual interactions have become standard lately, one-on-one conversations can foster team spirit, which undeniably is necessary for any organization to operate smoothly. And it is this balance between personal space and workspace interaction that makes the hybrid model a win-win for every individual.
- Continuity of learning – One of the most noteworthy yet easily overlooked advantages of a hybrid model is that it creates a continuous cycle of learning. It allows the employees to use a portion of their work week to enroll in those courses or programs that can help upskill them. For instance, finance and accounting professionals can acquire knowledge related to data analysis, MS Excel, and SQL Database to secure a stronger position in the emerging field of fintech. In short, in post-covid times, it has become imperative to equip yourself with multidisciplinary skills, and a hybrid work environment offers you a smooth path to learn them.
There is no sure-shot technique to ensure the success of a hybrid work model. Employees, leaders, and companies together have to craft ingenious ways to establish the new ‘normal’ workspace. In this day and age, we are collaborating in an environment that has been reshaped by the challenges of the pandemic, and hence, it needs some reimagination.
For any new model to become ubiquitous, a lot of experimentation has to be done. In addition, the hybrid model is coming at a time when workspaces are still trying to put things back to order and there is no conventional guidebook to refer to. This is why every organization has to figure out what works for them and what doesn’t.
Regardless, here are a few strategies that might help to seamlessly integrate a digital workspace with the physical one
- Focus on productivity, not the clock-in hours – Keeping a strict track of a number of hours worked and assessing an employee’s performance entirely on the basis of that might not generate fruitful results. It has been observed that remote employees are more productive than those working in the office, but for that, they should be able to work when in focus. Some employees actually put in their best during the nocturnal hours. Hence, it’s better to consider their overall performance, rather than their clock-in hours.
- Promote trust and transparency – Sounds a little unreasonable to our ears, but some organizations do use specialized monitoring systems to track the mouse movements of the employees or even hire a team of experts just to keep an eye on them. This not only leads to complete wastage of time and money but also, they end up losing the trust of their employees. Instead, if someone wants to step away for thirty minutes due to some emergency, then simply requesting the supervisor should work. For any workplace to flourish, it is essential to build a culture of transparency and trust.
- Have all the processes in place – Having a clear line of communication in place plays a crucial role in making every hybrid model an absolute success. While working remotely, the employees must know ‘whom to run to’ or ‘what’s the next step to follow’ whenever they encounter an unexpected situation at work. For this, they should have uninterrupted access to either a few smart software solutions or trained, experienced experts. At the same time, laying down all the guidelines or offering the needful training to the employees before fully hybridizing your work can be of immense help.
The amount of versatility promised by the hybrid work model is unmatched. If well-customized, a hybrid plan can deliver what the employees have been requesting for years – a healthier work-life balance and room for growth. However, for a work plan like this to succeed and generate productive results, organizations must plan and execute their strategies carefully. Only then, we can prepare ourselves for the uncertainty that the future holds.
As change is inevitable, one can choose to keep the face towards the sunshine. And, here growth resides in thriving through the chaos Covid led to and turning it into an opportunity to embrace the change in both lifestyle and working models. Remember, time passes but lessons learned go a long way.