It’s no secret that COVID-19 has had a lasting impact on the work landscape. As we look ahead to a post-pandemic world and explore a return to the office, it’s clear remote work is here to stay, in some form or another.
According to a study by PwC, less than one in five executives want to return to the office as it was pre-pandemic, while the rest are grappling with how widely to extend remote work options. Another report by Microsoft found that over 70% of employees want remote work to continue in some form, and 65% want more in-person time with their teams.
As businesses reevaluate whether to return to the office full time or keep remote work on the table, a third option has been gaining traction: hybrid work. This model allows employees to work both in-house and remotely, and has already been implemented by some companies.
So is the hybrid work model truly the future? The simple answer is that the pandemic has caused us to rethink the way we work. Numerous studies and surveys indicate we aren’t eager to go back to the way things were, at least not completely. With this in mind, how can businesses implement a hybrid work model successfully?
It’s a Team Effort
There’s a difference between working in a hybrid environment and being truly effective at hybrid-working. For the hybrid model to succeed, it’ll require some changes and effort from both management and employees.
To start, employees at all levels need to strengthen their emotional intelligence and develop self-awareness. Identify what drives you, what your strengths are, at which times you work best, and even the challenges that prevent you from achieving a productive work day.
Since we will have more ownership over our working schedules in a hybrid environment, self-awareness will be key to ensuring we plan our days based on our individual needs and preferences.
Self-awareness is also crucial to reducing burnout. 75% of the workforce has experienced burnout since the pandemic began, and introducing a hybrid structure won’t diminish burnout completely.
A 2021 study of remote workers by Survey Monkey found that 78% felt their calendars were almost always out of control. Believing that hybrid environments will immediately fix back-to-back meetings and a lack of structure isn’t realistic.
Employees should reflect on the last 14 to 18 months and understand the habits, practices and routines that empowered them to feel happy and healthy. Then, it’s about continuing to commit to those routines as we move forward into hybrid work.
As we ease into this “new normal”, teams will likely feel overwhelmed by a few things, like deciding which meetings should be in person or virtual, how best to communicate with colleagues when working different hours and places, and how to manage new task loads and delegations.
Given these added stressors, leadership needs to ensure that teams have the adequate tools and resources to support this new hybrid model, and maintain transparency around best practices and what is expected of employees going forward.
Implement Remote-Work Processes
Many organizations have struggled with effective collaboration since their teams started working remotely. Offering remote-first processes into the new hybrid model is a great way to combat these challenges. Without these processes, you risk isolating remote employees from office communication and updates.
One example of a remote-work process for the office is an automated daily stand-up meeting. Instead of requiring all your team members to be on a call at the same time, automate that daily standup within your team’s communication channel and use the standup time for brainstorming and discussion.
Not only does this help promote collaboration, it’s also a great way to reduce the need for meetings. Organizations should consider processes that promote inclusion of all team members, regardless of their location.
This type of asynchronous communication is a proven way to support your office and remote workers, by reducing the need for meetings and ensuring there is a thread of information that is accessible to everyone.
The future of work requires flexibility. With more opportunities for hybrid work in a post-pandemic world, organizations must ensure that processes and systems can fully support employees as we effectively adapt.