The future of work is a hotly debated topic, especially since 2022 is being presented as the year of the employee – and more companies are navigating what is the new normal as some staff return back to the office. However, instead of framing this transition as a difficult journey back to “how things used to be”, companies can look to leverage on the post-covid black swan event and understand the mechanics of pivoting to a hybrid workplace model.
By understanding how hybrid workplaces can work, companies can leverage the inherent benefits of hybrid workforces and while mitigating any problems during the transitory phase.
Benefits to a hybrid workforce
Work life balance has emerged as the recurring theme of employees but what does it mean for the organisation when it needs to manage the competitiveness and productivity which is overseen directly through the physical location, engagement, and oversight of employees.
Some benefits include:
- Flexibility can lead to satisfaction
- Work life balance satisfaction can lead to:
- Higher retention
- Higher productivity
- Increased attractiveness of organisation
- Cost reduction to organisation
- Lower emission
- Lower in-office cost
- Lower hiring cost
However, not all jobs can be done entirely independently, and the model needs fine-tuning. Some recommendations can include:
- Gradual onboarding and transition of a virtual workforce after gaining relevant experience
- A hybrid foundation needs to be strong to ensure that employees retain ties and relationships within the organisation
Types of hybrid workplace model
Hybrid work offers up clear potential benefits, but the execution will be the biggest hurdle. We need to first start by understanding that the hybrid model is not a one-size-fits-all. Then, we need to consider different types of hybrid models – and we typically look at three different types:
- Working in a central location
- Working remotely
- A combination of the two
It is an incorporation of a deliberate and proactive plan driven by a combination of factors, including employee wellbeing and business performance. It must assess the cost, benefit and desired outcome for the organization as a whole. This can be further broken down into:
- When and where work gets done
- What is driving the optimal level of productivity and engagement
- Which hybrid work plan and corresponding business factors makes the most sense
Challenges to managing a hybrid workplace model
“Equity is fairer than equality” is a good philosophy to keep at the back of an organisation’s mind.
- Differing home situations create inequalities
- Poor working environment
- Poor internet connection
- An exploitation of an “always on” culture
- Differing levels of commitment by employees and organisations which can affect the employee experience
- Engagement must be carefully tailored
- In-person engagements must be strategic and a positive experience to encourage return to the office if it is in the organisation’s interest
The future: plans and development for a hybrid workplace model
Ideas of shared ownership and trust are vital for work to be done effectively and efficiently. Reimaging work by re-examining different roles and functions within the organisation.
- Physical presence and presence of mind
- Level of collaboration and engagement
- Measurement of success, performance, and productivity
Uncertain future must be met with differing paradigms of thought
From the onset of egalitarian mindset to a Taylorism model, industrialisation and to the current iteration of the workplace, organisations must be mindful and agile in adapting to the shifting perspectives on the nature of work.
The hybrid working model, while not a new concept, looks set to be adopted at a scale that’s not been seen before – and both the technology and “human” elements need to evolve in pace with each other for companies to fully reap the benefits.