Is hybrid model the golden mean of work types?
As the saying goes, “the best things are placed between extremes”. So is hybrid work.
Most employees will tell you they would like to be free to choose where to work from. From the office, from home, in the forest or on the beach, the list goes on.
Unfortunately, not all companies allow this. In fact, most of them don’t.
However, there seems to be an increase in companies adopting the hybrid work model recently.
This hybrid model allows employees to choose whether they want to work from the office, from home, or from anywhere else.
Nonetheless, if you’re thinking of giving hybrid work a try, go ahead and do it but also be prepared to face the challenges.
Here are the top challenges of hybrid work and how you can use them to your advantage.
1. Communication discrepancies in the workplace
With half of the team working from home and the other half from the office, there is a high chance of workflow discrepancies between them. While those in the office meet up and discuss projects, remote workers may feel behind in the project progression. Despite the use of tools like Slack or Zoom, communication is not the same when some meet face to face while others through the screen. First, when there is a need for a quick meeting, it is easier for those in the office to gather quickly and discuss an issue than organize a virtual meeting. Simply because people also see each other more often. Even when there is no obvious reason for a discussion, it can arise during an unplanned encounter with a coworker.
The problem of inconsistent communication is especially challenging for new employees. As companies attract employees with the prospect of a hybrid work environment, new employees may be subject to this issue as well. Some of the new people are going to work remotely while others will come to the office. Thus, it is possible for the remote newcomers to miss out on some information or company life.
Inconsistent communication risks resulting in lack of communication among the team. To avoid these issues, here’s what you can do.
Make sure your communication tools have all the necessary information, especially for the newcomers. You can make pinned sections with the necessary basics and accesses that new employees may need. What refers to old employees, one solution is to hold those in the office accountable for informing remote workers of any project updates. Additionally, monitor the communication and management tool you’re using to see everything added and updated regardless of how much it’s discussed.
2. Unequal employee engagement
Employees that come to the office may create an impression of being more present and involved in work than remote employees. This can result in them getting more promotions or benefits just because they are present physically. But being remote or office-based has nothing to do with better performance. In fact, remote employees may even exceed their peers in performance. In the same way, the latter should not be the case either.
Employers must make sure no employee experiences such treatment. However, as hybrid work makes both working modes acceptable, no employee is going to be constantly remote or office-based. Still, there need to be guidelines and policies that will ensure employees are treated based on their performance only and nothing else.
3. Unequal distribution of gear
When some of the employees work in the office, and others from home, the former get the advantage of using office equipment. These include not just computers, but a desk, a chair, a printer, kitchen appliances, etc. Of course, some companies offer equipment or reimbursement to remote workers for acquiring a work computer, but there are also those that don’t. The latter risk losing remote employees, as why would employees use and wear out personal gear and space for work when
- employees in the office don’t use personal equipment
- the company can provide you with work equipment
When the employee knows that there are companies that provide everything needed for a working setup at home, be sure that they are going to aspire and leave for such companies at the first possibility. And this is completely justifiable because who doesn’t want to be in a company that provides you with everything you need for work.
Make sure you discuss with remote employees what equipment they will use and either give them a work computer or reimburse them for acquiring one. It would be even perfect if you provided them with a whole work setup with everything they need.
4. Lack of collaboration
Teams working in the office have it easier when it comes to meetings and collaborative work. They simply go to each other’s desks, ask something and organize a meeting if necessary. Besides, those employees that go to the office know each other better than they do remote employees.
While most of the time remote employees stay in touch with each other for the mere purpose of work, those in the office get to know each other better through informal chatting. They get to know each other and are more likely to prefer to work with each other. When such close bonds form among office-based employees, remote employees may feel left out. As a result, the collaboration between them might suffer. Of course, they will collaborate when needed, but natural human collaboration and communication may suffer in the long run.
Organize and encourage informal meetings for the whole team. These can be both virtual and face-to-face. If possible the latter is much better for employees to get to know each other, but virtual is ok too. Another way is incentivizing shared virtual lunches. While employees in the office are having lunch together, remote employees can also have a video call and lunch together. This way they will not only talk to each other about work but will meet up in an informal (and virtual) setting as well.
5. Complete autonomy
There is a misconception that creating a hybrid work environment means giving employees complete autonomy over how they prefer to work. While this is true about hybrid work as employees are free to decide whether they want to work from the office, from home or else, it is not the very best idea.
Granting employees complete freedom is not the best way to manage the team.
Employees can choose how they want to work, but there still need to be some guidelines, such as work from home on Monday-Thursday and be in the office on Friday, etc. This way the company can organize who’s working from where and when so as to avoid any overlapping or absence.
This method also takes the burden off of employees to spend time deciding when to work where. When they know in advance, they have one thing less to worry about.
Another issue that can arise from complete autonomy is not being aware of employees’ work process. For this purpose you can use time tracking tools to have an idea about the project’s flow and stay updated with its stages.
Despite the many advantages that hybrid work entails, you will nonetheless have to face and deal with its challenges. But don’t let them stay in the way of your decision of trying hybrid work with your team. Let the challenges mentioned in this article be a guide for you to be prepared and get the most out of the hybrid work model. In case you succeed, you will not want to go back.