5 Traits of a Successful Hybrid Work Environment
As you embrace change and step into a hybrid work environment, it is important to be prepared for a few departures from the usual routine. What makes a company thrive in a successful hybrid work environment? What have some of these companies achieved that others are missing out on?
The fact remains that the hybrid work model is here to stay as companies and employees gain from remote and hybrid working. Here are the top few things being done by companies and employees to make it successful.
What is a hybrid workplace?
What is a hybrid work environment? A hybrid workplace offers you a combination of workforces. They are neither working 100% remote (perhaps from a home office or other sites) nor are they 100% in an office. A hybrid work environment meaning involves employees who work a few days from a remote location and a few days in a central office. While some companies have defined these days, others have left it open for the managers and employees to decide, depending upon work requirements. Sometimes these decisions could be influenced by the personal needs of an employee.
Making a Hybrid Work Environment Work
As a company, if you are looking at creating a hybrid work environment, there are many challenges you will face that you should be prepared for. For example, getting peoples' time for meetings could be a challenge as you can't catch up informally or walk into a colleague's office unannounced for a quick minute catch-up on minor matters. Have you explored our reviews on how hybrid work from home can be made successful?
Here are the top five traits that can create a successful hybrid work environment.
1. Focussing on Productivity
As a hybrid, remote and in-office employees work around different schedules and timings, you may notice challenges creeping in to meet business goals. Leadership must ensure that they steer any astray discussions to return to the only goal, productivity. Here are some ideas on how leaders can pave the way for a productive work environment.
Ensuring people are fresh, well-rested and taken care of, leadership can be enablers for high productivity. In addition, understanding others' needs, being patient and giving time to others to wrap up the task is critical to the success of any team.
2. Being Flexible, empathetic and supportive
As a business, you will need to agree that various communication mediums and tools will need to be used. But, again, making provisions, giving access and trusting your employees to use them effectively is the key. In addition, of course, newer tools will need an introduction on operating making effective use as was the case Webex was rolled in.
Flexibility also means being available to your workforce, especially the remote and hybrid workforce, and other team members over a call, Whatsapp, emails, Face time and a host of other communication mediums; most of them a mix of formal and informal meetings. This surely can be tiring for some. Having policies that define what is expected will enable people to streamline their thoughts.
Taking regular feedback from employees and other stakeholders, Citibank announced Zoom Free Fridays early last year. What led to this decision at a global level? Employees globally felt the heat and stress of Zoom meetings as they managed the change to remote or hybrid working during the pandemic.
Working remotely and on a hybrid model has given extra pressure to supervisors and leadership. As managers are being trained on managing teams virtually, many companies are working on a two-pronged approach of increased empathy and trusting the team members while holding them accountable for their work.
Companies with centralized controls and authority will experience a difficult terrain compared to those who have empowered their employees.
3. Staying Inclusive
Leadership must recognize the efforts put in by hybrid and remote workforces. Hence, as business leaders take the lead, staying inclusive and listening to the needs of these hybrid and remote employees becomes important. Some companies have moved away from a hybrid model of holding meetings. Such hybrid meetings would include having some employees in a meeting room and others over a virtual call. Being present in front of leadership improves one's visibility. Remote and hybrid employees may miss out on these.
Stepping up to role modelling, a Quora business leader was the first to announce in his company that his office visits would be monthly. This restricts those employees who want to be present 'around' leadership for visibility.
Meeting patterns have had to change to enable virtual visibility by insisting on cameras being switched on. This encourages non-verbal communication, which makes it easier and quicker to understand each other. However, on the downside, many employees have raised concerns on limited home office space and privacy, internet speed and connections and more to operate effectively.
4. Maintaining Data Protection
As employees are spread geographically, a company's data is at great risk. Add team members across geographies, and you could have situations where data protection acts are breached. Additionally, with employees using a personal network, companies have had to re-examine how their IT infrastructure can protect client and company data.
5. Being Collaborative
While each employee has their preferences and communication styles, as hybrid and remote teams work, employees will need to be sensitized to the importance of team collaboration. Many companies like Slack, Autonomous and more have worked on platforms to enable easier collaboration between team members. Such platforms allow for centralized communication boards, open meeting notes, keeping documents in an open filing cabinet to be accessed by those who need it. In addition, you can enable some amount of access levels to ensure that information does not reach beyond those where intended.
Such platforms increase trust, open and quicker communication and more, thus realizing the team’s goals. The need for everyone to trust and be patient with others increases as you are restricted in your communication connects.
To sum up, certain key traits can make a hybrid work environment successful. How employees imbibe such traits requires leadership to set examples. Such practices will take time as long as the team stays empathetic yet focussed on the goals. In sync with such practice, policies and guidelines will enable the entire workforce to work in a single direction.
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WRITTEN BYNatasha Palance
A NY-based journalist with an MA in International Affairs. Has worked with global brands and nonprofits, as well as UNESCO-accredited NGOs.
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