Navigating the new reality of hybrid work

woman checking her email on her phone

Expectations have changed. Following the pandemic, many workers, particularly knowledge workers, professionals, and many workers doing support functions, realized that they can do their jobs at home. Bosses noticed as well, as productivity didn’t decrease for many workers.

Yes, many employers are calling back their employees. There is an advantage to having team members together in an office. Certain problems get identified and solved quickly. Team members establish bonds. Colleagues can get feedback with a simple look and body language as work gets done.

But there are also massive advantages to having the flexibility to work from home. Less commuting time gives employees more time to be productive, or simply rest or take care of life’s daily obligations. It’s easier in so many ways. Americans are now having more babies! That’s just one example of how quality of life can improve with flexibility.

The Hybrid Model

Of course, more of us realize that in office work and work from home are not binary choices. The hybrid model can give us the best of both worlds, if implemented properly.

Many prospective employees now expect this when applying for a job. Employers make sure to note that hybrid work is an option.

There are issues of course around implementation. How does this apply to different jobs and departments. Employees need to understand the policies and most need to perceive the policies as being fair. Employers should not make the mistake of thinking that everyone should be treated in exactly the same way. For some employees, work from home on most days can make sense. For others, it’s necessary to have a predominantly in office policy. Just have rational policies on how to differentiate between workers and roles.

In Office Days

Having workers in the office does little for productivity of other team members are at home. It’s important to set up policies and schedules so that team members are often in the office on the same days. This can vary by team and department to best utilize office space. Set the expectations and enforce them, but again be careful to allow flexibility as long as workers don’t abuse the privilege.

Training and Rules

Give your team the tools to be effective. Train them on how to be most effective when working from home. Set up clear rules and policies on availability.

That said, understand that some employees love to start early and knock out a significant amount of the day’s work before lunchtime. If you’re seeing that and good performance, don’t hassle the employee regularly with 4 pm Zoom calls. Be understanding if they’re taking a call at the coffee shop in the afternoon.

Make office time productive

Employers should be mindful to take advantage of days when team members are in the office. Meetings should mostly be held on those days. Also be mindful of the workplace experience. Don’t neglect this given that fewer employees are there every day. Young people in particular want to be in the office and need the interaction with supervisors and more experienced team members. You may find that getting more senior members in the office becomes more difficult than dealing with younger workers.

Challenge you HR team

Effective HR is even more important now with hybrid work. The rules and expectations are more fluid. Listen to your employees. Engage with other companies dealing with similar issues. Understand that policies will need to evolve. Good communication will help your team through this, and eventually thrive.


Related Posts