Are you prepared for the new “hybrid workplace”…? Businesses are beginning to return to normal as vaccination rates climb and infection rates fall. The country is coming out from behind the bushes…
For some employees, the prospect of returning to the office and turning their home back into a place for everything but work is a welcome change. A return to a new normal – familiar, predictable, stable.
However, many employees embraced the flexibility of working from home and are keen to sustain their pandemic routines without the pandemic looming large…and businesses enjoyed a surge in productivity that can’t be ignored.
What will your organization do to capitalize on the gains you enjoyed with a happier, more productive workforce that embraced technology, maintained productivity, and found the motivation to excel in their home offices?
Defining a Hybrid Workplace
You changed your workplace model out of necessity in the early going and look forward to a return to “normal”…or you take the current structure for granted. What you created, though, is a hybrid workplace. And they’re here to stay.
Your employees likely have one of three standard options:
The vast majority of your employees work remotely and are expected to collaborate across time zones. However, a few employees must be at the office at least once a week, and the remainder continues their roles from their home office or other secure location.
These companies aren’t sold on the notion of a remote workforce and expect all of their employees to be in the office at least a few days a week. This could be due to logistic demands – needing to be in the physical plant to create a product or deliver a service – or an unwillingness to lose money on a brick-and-mortar location….a “use it or lose it” scenario.
This model isn’t new to business. Even before the pandemic, companies created opportunities for employees to work from home or remote locations. Leadership is centered at the office, though, and most employees feel compelled to be there, as well. People who opt for a remote working environment often feel alienated as a result.
How do you take these models, born of necessity, and make it a permanent part of your company culture?
You follow these simple steps…
3 steps to strengthen and maintain your hybrid workplace
When you remove the stress of working remotely during a pandemic, there will still be stressors that lower productivity and threaten the stability of your company culture.
Studies show that your remote workforce is prone to over-compensating for their lack of office time – they work longer hours, let their work consume their weekends – because they feel like they have to keep up with their colleagues in the office.
Onboarding and training can be difficult with a remote workforce – the strain on your human resources department can cause stress for all parties concerned.
Take these simple steps to maximize the impact of your hybrid workforce:
- Pay attention to the people
How are you going to foster a culture of collaboration?
What are you doing to empower your managers so they can lead the shift to a productive hybrid workplace? For example, are you giving them opportunities to refine policies and procedures in their specific department?
Do you have a system for listening to all of your employees? If you’re using Microsoft Viva or Glint, you’ve got the ability to hear from every member of your team and derive meaning from the messages.
- Pay attention to the places
What steps have you taken to create a safe work environment for those who’ve chosen to return to the office? Are you following the Occupational Safety & Health guidelines as a minimum standard? If your employees feel unsafe in the workplace, they’ll be distracted and unproductive.
Have you created spaces for seamless collaboration between employees in the boardroom and those working remotely? For example, are your meeting rooms designed for high-quality sound and video so that everyone feels like they’re part of the conversation?
You have to match the physical environment with the digital environment — and of course, the culture. It doesn’t matter if you’re in manufacturing or banking. Every organization operates differently, but it’s the physical, digital, and culture of the company coming together to create the experience you need for your employees to be productive, creative, and innovative.”
Michael Ford, CVP of Global Real Estate & Security
There are Microsoft solutions for monitoring employee health and wellness and productivity software that allows employees to interact as though they’re in the room together. A small investment in hardware and software can elevate your team’s performance.
- Pay attention to the processes
The initial shift in your business model was forced upon you and your organization. But now that the immediate urgency has passed, you have time to evaluate the successes – and possibly some failures – that emerged from your year-long remote workforce experiment.
Seize the opportunity. Did you discover that your team was still effective without weekly “round-up” meetings at head office? Were you able to conduct business transactions using digital files instead of hard copies? Were collaborations more robust because you could engage employees that were half way around the world from you but could still contribute as though they were in the room?
Software designers were forced to adapt collaboration and communications applications to stay relevant. As a result, they opened doors to new business methods…it’s time for you to walk through.
Your hybrid workforce will be a powerful tool
Building a permanent hybrid workplace will be challenging.
You’ll have to set very specific guidelines in place, probably rewrite your best practices manual and some of your employee contracts…
But it will be worth the effort in the long run.
We have experience setting up a remote workforce – training, cybersecurity, productivity. Would you like to explore your options and formalize your hybrid work environment?
Feedback and comments are always welcome. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me at email@example.com You can also connect with me via LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/jpodonnell2.
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