HR 4.0

Work-life during corona: 6 tips to improve hybrid working

December 20, 2021 - 5 minutes reading time
Article by Newsroom Insights

The corona pandemic has forced us to alter our work habits and the way we do business. Unsurprisingly, many companies struggle to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic. Looking for ways to adjust to the current reality, a hybrid work model has emerged that has been welcomed by employees – but it is not without its own challenges. What are they and how do you overcome them?

A McKinsey survey conducted in 2021 found that 52 percent of 5,000 respondents would like to work two or more days a week using a hybrid work model: working partly at the office and partly remote. The study aptly illustrates the need for organizations to recognize and adapt to employee expectations to retain and attract employees.

Few would dispute that the hybrid working model has clear advantages for employees and employers alike: saving both time and money on commuting, more flexible working conditions, the possibility to combine work and personal life, a faster recruitment process and greater opportunities to attract talent in other countries, are just a few of the reasons why companies are willing to adopt a hybrid work model. However, the hybrid working comes with a few risks and challenges that not all businesses may be able to accurately assess.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

One of the biggest challenges is trying to make the hybrid work model ideal. The hybrid model is far more complex than our usual work model, as it requires measures for greater employee safety, appropriate arrangements with employees, different interaction between colleagues and teams, the introduction of document management systems, and so on.

Just as the world once experimented and applied the concept of ​​open plan offices, so now businesses around the world are experimenting with hybrid work models. Thus far, no one has established what a universal ideal model would be for everyone.

Implementing a hybrid work model requires experimenting and learning from mistakes

Companies create and experiment with both the model itself, as well as with adjustments to the pay or performance appraisal processes. Therefore, it is important for everyone working within the framework to understand that the process of implementing a new work model requires time, learning from mistakes, experimenting, and seeking out what would suit each organization specifically. All the more reason to clearly communicate to all involved parties that the system will not be ideal immediately. Both the way work is structured as well as the business itself will have to continually adapt until the optimum hybrid work model is achieved.

Staying connected remotely

A McKinsey survey of top-level executives in May 2021 showed that while executives see many benefits of a hybrid work model, and are happy regarding its effectiveness, they also have no doubt that such a work model can undermine the working culture as well as the relationship between the employee and the employer.

These and many other studies reveal that changes in the work structural model should also change the arrangement of routine HR practices. The challenge of performance management systems is particularly acute as it may be more difficult to monitor the progress, growth and efficiency of employees working in a hybrid work model compared to the conventional office model.

A working culture that keeps everyone engaged

The challenge remains for businesses that want to provide a level playing field allowing for employees to get involved, to attend meetings and to ensure that all relevant information reaches everyone, no matter where they work. All employees – whether they work from the office or from home – need to feel like full and equal members of the team, and managers need to be able to work with, support, and trust everyone, no matter where they work.

All this means that it is not sufficient for companies to simply introduce new communication technologies or equip conference rooms for hybrid meetings. The most important challenge is changing the working culture of the operation itself to ensure the treatment of all employees as full members of the team, giving them equal working conditions and opportunities for involvement.

The importance of properly onboarding new employees

One of the challenges that many organizations still face, involves maintaining the initial welcoming experience of a newcomer to the company when working remotely part-time. The key question is how to carry out the employee onboarding process in this hybrid work environment, whilst ensuring both their wellbeing and productivity.

It is important to realize that the introduction of a new employee is not just a meeting to introduce the organization and its activities; properly introducing new employees is vítal to ensure their successful integration into the organization. Glassdoor research confirms that only those organizations that have a comprehensive and strong recruitment process can attain up to an 82% employee retention rate.

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Onboarding from home

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Focus on employee well-being: a top priority

It may seem that the hybrid work model provides the conditions for more flexible ways of working, and helps employees save time. However, there is a growing awareness that working within a hybrid work model means there is an increased need for peer support, and that ensuring the emotional and physical health of employees should be top priority.

One of the reasons is that creating a new day-to-day working rhythm and reconciling ones work and private life, can be challenging. Moreover, feelings of loneliness and isolation can and do affect some of those who are working from home.

When working in an office, it is easier for managers or colleagues to notice if a person works overtime or feels tired. Face to face, it is much easier have a chat and ask someone how they are doing. Therefore, it is very important to help employees develop the right skills to organize a healthy work balance and it is important for businesses to have appropriate employee support programmes in place.

How to improve hybrid working: 6 tips

To summarize: when implementing new ways of working to adapt to the current reality, it is essential to realize that impactful changes require great flexibility, a willingness to experiment, and openness to change. Considering the following insights may be helpful in successfully implementing a new hybrid work model:

  • A clear message should be sent to all employees that adapting to a hybrid work model requires experimenting and there will be a learning curve.
  • Employee engagement and involvement is essential for successfully implementing the model.
  • Managers play a crucial role in creating a culture of inclusivity and involvement for all, whether working at the office or from home.
  • Communication tools must be put in place that give everyone the same level of access to information and the ability to participate in meetings, workshops and other online activities.
  • Adequate (new) recruitment and onboarding processes to ensure excellent candidate and new employee experiences, should be a top priority for organizations seeking to attract and retain talented professionals.
  • Support mechanisms should be put in place to foster the emotional and physical health of all employees.
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