The pandemic brought many changes to our lives, but from a business perspective the most game changing has been the way people approach work. The pandemic sped up many changes and trends that had been gaining pace – from online shopping through to cementing hybrid approaches to work. For many years the internet had presented the promise of working from anywhere – but post-pandemic, this has been completely accelerated with hybrid workplaces becoming more common. So how can business leaders effectively lead their teams when most of their team is out of the office? How do you develop the right culture when not everyone is working in house, seeing the culture first hand?
So what is a hybrid workplace?
A hybrid workforce is a type of blended workforce comprising employees who work remotely and those who work from an office or central location. This way, employees can work from the places they want to, either in a central location, such as an office or retail location, or in a remote location, such as the home.
However, a hybrid workforce isn’t just about working from home or working from the office; rather, it’s about helping employees achieve a flexible work-life balance. This is where it seems so obvious why your team might want to embrace a hybrid working model. When done well, it allows the best of both worlds, combining the flexibility of remote work and the increased productivity of in-person collaboration.
3 key benefits of a hybrid workplace
Reduced commute – Working from home enables employees to avoid wasting hours in traffic each day getting to and from work. It also reduces the cost of travel including parking.
Enhanced Productivity – Whilst many people worried that working from home would see a drop in productivity, the opposite has occurred. In many instances, people are more productive working from home in many cases – less meetings, less chatter, more focussed work.
Better work-life balance – a mantra for many people, especially amongst Millennials. There is more to life than spending so much of it in an office and the flexibility provided by working from home is really valued.
In fact, one of the biggest drawcards of the hybrid working model is that it offers flexibility to your team. Remote employees can choose how and where they want to work depending on their personal circumstances, current situation and mood.
So far, so good.
But, that’s not to say that hybrid working is not without challenges, see below.
5 key points to consider when leading a hybrid workplace.
- Connecting a distributed team
Working from home on varying days, will make for a different kind of workplace environment. Your team may miss out on having spontaneous discussions with their colleagues in the lunchroom or at their desks. You may also discover that those who come into the office will connect with certain members of the team more often than others. This can make remote workers feel isolated.Ways to combat this include,
- Ensuring that there are set days that everyone comes into the office
- Making sure that planned meetings happen online for everyone – so that all parties are included
- Upping your zoom game so that people are present & engaged in meetings (ie remember the good stuff from lockdown!)
- Decentralising company operations
This is where having appropriate technology in place comes into its own. Ensuring that files are accessible from the cloud is hugely important (as well as ensuring everyone is across how to save and store them). Investing in collaborative software for idea gathering and ideation so that all parties can be involved will be critical to ensuring that your best brains are active, wherever they are working!
- Keeping tabs on employee wellness
When we can’t see people all the time, we may not pick up the non-verbal cues about how they are feeling. We can’t see people becoming quieter or more withdrawn when we only see them via zoom. Strong connections between managers and staff can be an effective antidote to wellbeing issues in a hybrid setting which means the onus is on you as a leader to reach out to your team, regularly.
- Welcoming new employees without physically meeting them
Many businesses faced a unique problem with lockdowns -onboarding a new team member, when you can’t meet face to face. Many businesses may even have completed an entire recruitment process without meeting the new staff member at any time. The pandemic really did shake up what we see as normal business practice.So what is a good way to onboard a new team member into your work environment, knowing that they may not meet their colleagues for a period of time? How can you help them settle in? The best place to start is to look closely at your existing induction process? Are they documented correctly? Or do people wing it when new people start? This might prompt a reappraisal of how you actually onboard people and hopefully result in a better system that makes your onboarding process more successful!
- Increased cyber risk
Cyber-attacks and other related pitfalls like data loss are more likely when working and communicating from changing locations, this is the reality of working remotely. Companies need to secure their digital footprint through constant software updates, robust password management, and multi-factor authentication as they’re more prone to risk of data breach.
How do we manage a hybrid workplace?
At DFK Everalls, what seemed impossible before the pandemic, became our reality. With quick and professional help from our IT providers, we enabled a working from home plan and ensured that our in-house team could quickly, simply & seamlessly start working from home.
As lockdown rules eased, we started to see what would become our hybrid model fit into place. We now have a flexible work place policy that allows team members to work certain days in the office each week and work from home on the other days. We believe this flexibility is important for team morale and culture. The only requirements have been to ensure they can manage & work with their teams effectively; manage their client and workflow schedules as required; and be in the office on Thursdays for the “All Team” meeting & training.
What have you implemented in your office? What kind of hybrid rhythm have you put in place? What are the lessons you have learned or tips you can share with our other clients?
We’d love to know!