Written by Alaina Perila
For over a year, companies have been adapting to different working situations. From in-person, remote, then trickling back into the office, adaptability is at the forefront to adjust to the changing conditions caused by the pandemic. As restrictions continue to subside and more businesses reopen, the hybrid working model is becoming a standard practice for many.
A hybrid working model is a mixture of in-person and remote work offerings. Resulting in departments and teams split between working on-premise and remotely. With many businesses, such as Microsoft, starting to consider and implement the hybrid model of working, it is evident that this will continue to be a trend in the future. So, how can you best prepare for the hybrid model, and what can you expect?
There are many advantages when it comes to having some employees working remotely. Employees are continuing to appreciate the accommodations and flexibility that this model provides. Plus, with many employees having safety concerns about returning to in-person, working from home is a great option. Additionally, many workers are more productive than ever working from home and don’t see the advantage of going back into the office. Allowing employees to pick their work environment and choose what is best for them, leads to a dramatic increase in employee satisfaction. Finally, having fewer employees working in the office also leads to a decrease in overhead costs. Companies have been able to downsize office space, translating into a reduction in rent and electricity costs.
Even given the advantages, there are undoubtedly many challenges on the horizon for the hybrid working model. For example, effective communication and collaboration can become more difficult working remotely. Instead of stopping by a colleague's desk to check in when questions arise, communication occurs virtually via messenger apps like Slack, Zoom, and on calls. Plus, with workers potentially living in different areas geographically, time differences need to remain a consideration. Furthermore, collaboration can be more difficult working remotely. A hybrid model may add to this challenge with some workers in the office and others remote, leading to a disconnect between the two. Overall, facilitating communication and collaboration in different ways will create a more productive workforce.
Work-from-home (WFH) employees may also begin to feel isolated and disconnected from their coworkers working in-house. The small meetups around the office and the in-person perks like catered lunches and company events are things these WFH workers may miss out on. Additionally, without everyone being a part of some of these company bonding experiences, company culture may suffer. One way to combat this is by intentionally connecting with others. Businesses need to create separate but equal benefits for their in-person and remote workers including sending lunch to remote workers, a special happy hour or birthday gift basket, or a monthly lunch budget to ensure all employees receive company perks. Moreover, it is important to hold virtual happy hours and events that connect the in-house and WFH employees. The goal is to create an inclusive company culture.
Another issue to be aware of is favoritism. Since remote workers aren’t as visible to managers compared to their in-person colleagues, a remote worker may perceive accolades and advancement as preferential treatment. The lack of facetime that remote workers may get with higher-ups and key-decision-makers can have real consequences in proving they deserve the chance to climb up the executive ladder. To ensure WFH employees receive the same opportunities as in-house workers, managers should schedule weekly one-on-one meeting times with their remote workers to provide valuable feedback and facetime.
While most people don’t love Zoom meetings, they have been necessary when everyone has been working remotely and unable to meet in person. What happens when some individuals can meet in a conference room, but others are working from home? Facilitating meetings where everyone feels like they can participate equally can become a challenge to consider. When scheduled meetings occur with remote and in-person employees, have all attendees join the meeting at their individual computers to reduce WFH employees feeling left out versus if they joined a meeting to see all their coworkers gathered around a conference table. Small efforts will make a big difference and create an inclusive company culture.
Finally, the actual management of these employees can be an additional challenge. Managing the differences in these already complicated Human Capital Management processes between these two groups of workers can be even more time-consuming. That is where RJ Reliance comes in. We can help you set up personalized systems and processes to help manage your employees and assure success in the hybrid model. Obtain consistency and accuracy while giving you more time to focus on your employees and essential business functions.
The hybrid working model continues to be adopted by more businesses and presents numerous advantages, yet equal attention must be given to mitigate potential pitfalls for ultimate success. Interested in learning more about how RJ Reliance can help you manage your hybrid workforce? Reach out and talk to our experts today!