7 Biggest Hybrid Work Challenges & Strategies to Deal with Them
Hybrid Working

7 Biggest Hybrid Work Challenges & Strategies to Deal with Them

AutonomousAutonomous | Jul 5, 2021
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Though the pandemic seems to be slowing down with people getting vaccines, more people have learned the benefits of working remotely. Many companies are creating a hybrid workplace, which is doing wonders for morale and productivity. Still, there are some hybrid work challenges that you might face. 

Introducing Hybrid Work Model as a New Normal

The new normal is to have a hybrid workforce, which means some people work remotely, while others work in the office. Ultimately, it requires a schedule for each employee, some of which is at-home work while the other part is done at the office. 

Most organizations already recognize the advantages of remote working. For example, it can reduce the company’s carbon footprint, offer more productivity, and reduce the stress levels of their employees. 

While some people might be opposed to the hybrid lifestyle, most employees are ready for it and embrace it. However, this also presents unique working challenges. 

Hybrid Work Model as a New Normal

Implementing a hybrid work model is one thing because you’re just talking about it. Some companies hoped that the remote working feature might dissipate when things got back to normal, but the opposite happened. 

It seems that employees like to have the choice of working at home or going to the office. With that, some things are better done at home where the staff can handle their work-life balance more easily. 

However, there might be times where employees need the office, and a hybrid workplace allows for that. 

Still, since remote hybrid work is now considered the norm, there are various problems with a hybrid workplace. It’s up to you to know what they are and how to fix them before they become an issue. 

Challenges that Businesses Will Face when Changing to This Model

Here are the most common challenges of working remotely or having a hybrid system: 

1. Unconscious Bias

Unconscious Bias

Often, managers become biased toward those who work from home. In fact, some studies have shown that remote workers get lower performance ratings on evaluations, fewer promotions than in-office colleagues, and smaller raises. 

This happens because there’s less face-time. You don’t see the employee because they work from home most or all of the time. In a sense, hybrid model problems often stem from the fact that remote workers suffer more because they’re not seen. 

However, if you’re in the office and working outside of the “normal” hours, which might be part of your flexible working scheduling, they appear to be more committed. They’re there when no one else is, even if they’re working the same amount of time. 

2. Dilution of Culture

With a hybrid model, there is a risk of the culture becoming diluted. This means employees are disillusioned about the company and the office life is the only focus. It has nothing to do with those working remotely, which is one of the toughest working challenges to fix. 

You must target the right  hybrid work culture, define, and embed it. However, it’s hard to do so in the office, so it’s even more challenging for a remote environment. 

3. Seamless Connectivity

Seamless Connectivity

One of the hybrid work challenges of working remotely is to stay connected with those in and out of the office. This must be effortless so that everyone can communicate quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, you waste time and energy trying to get answers or collaborate on a project. 

Ultimately, the problems with a hybrid workplace stem from the fact that some meetings must be in-person. Instead, there should be no reason to get everyone in the office. Typically, video-conferencing is your best friend, but you need the right tools for the job. 

4. Transparency

Transparency

Transparent communication ensures that office-based and remote workers are equal. When you have a lack of honest and open communication, it negatively impacts employee morale. Still, about 60 percent of remote workers don’t get important information because it was only discussed in person. 

5. Deep Engagement

Possibly one of the worst hybrid work challenges is having deep engagement and close working relationships when you work remotely. Good working relationships are key for employees to be more productive and engaged at work. Those who have a work best friend are more likely to be satisfied with their job. 

With the physical separation of the hybrid model, it’s harder to form and nurture those working relationships. 

6. Employee Wellbeing

Employee Wellbeing

Most hybrid work challenges can be solved by buying and using new tools or software. However, an employee’s mental health can suffer when they work from home. They might feel cut off from the rest of the team and have fewer interactions with them. With a hybrid model, you must ensure that the employees are supported. 

7. How the Office Runs

How the Office Runs

With more people working in the office fewer days each week, companies need to reconsider the office space. In fact, it might be wise to reduce the size of the office and get a smaller building. You may also want to have larger collaboration (meeting) rooms or break rooms to encourage chatting when people are in the office. 

Collaboration continues to be one of the biggest challenges of working remotely, and it’s often the most important contributor to hybrid model failures. Therefore, it’s imperative to focus on the office space you have and how it can provide the best return on investment.

Could it be better to get rid of cubicles and offices altogether or only have a few for private conversations and work where quiet is necessary? 

How to Fix Those Problems

Here are ways to fix the hybrid workplace challenges and turn them into positives:

1. Unconscious Bias

One way to fix unconscious bias, one of the hybrid work challenges, is to focus on equality between in-person and remote performance. Managers need the structures and remote working tools required to handle this. Without equality, the hybrid model problems just get worse and start to crumble. 

Employees are bound to notice the link between their success and being in the office, so they take less remote work. 

2. Dilution of Culture

Dilution of Culture

One of the hardest hybrid work challenges to overcome is the culture issue. However, this is the best type for hybrid companies to review their culture and adapt it. The meaning of work has now changed since people can work remotely. 

Organizations have to evaluate the cultural aspects they prefer to protect and nurture while deciding which ones to let go of. This isn’t easy, and it might be best to have a special team to define the culture and roadmap ways to achieve it. 

3. Seamless Connectivity

hybrid

Hybrid workplace challenges like connectivity between everyone are quite easy to deal with. Autonomous offers various hybrid working solutions and tools, including something called JAM. With it, members sign in at the start of their shift and can send quick messages whenever they want. 

There might be times where a person needs to move to another communication tool, such as for seeing each other face to face or sending files. However, JAM is a great option for those quick messages that answer questions and keep the work flowing. 

You should be investing in communication technology. That way, you maintain productivity. Other ways you can support the seamless connectivity issue and avoid hybrid workplace challenges is by: 

  • Ensuring that all meeting rooms use the company’s video conferencing software. That way, remote workers can engage and see everyone in the room.
  • Making it mandatory for all meetings to have a video conferencing link. Prepare for one person to be working at home to create inclusivity and equality.
  • Offering guidance for managers on how to create events for those in the office and at home.

4. Transparency

Transparency

Hybrid model problems or hybrid work challenges like transparent communication are also fixed easily with group-wide chat-like messages from JAM. Companies should also have procedures and processes in place to make sure that the outcomes for informal and in-person communications are shared with everyone when relevant. Consider writing or recording all formal communications, so everyone gets the message. 

When you choose the right channels, communication doesn’t have to be disruptive. Employees should always be encouraged to talk as much as possible to prevent the challenges of working remotely. This also avoids silos from forming between remote/in-office teams. 

5. Deep Engagement

Deep Engagement

While there are plenty of hybrid workplace challenges, most managers don’t think that close working relationships are that important. However, it’s imperative for people to feel connected and engage on a deeper level. 

One way to foster such connections is by using “away days.” They create beautiful moments and bonds between employees that can’t be achieved otherwise. These in-person meet-ups shouldn’t happen at the office! Instead, meet somewhere fun and do something exciting. 

6. Employee Wellbeing

The hybrid work challenges you face are plentiful, but there are ways around it. However, when you’re dealing with traditional problems with a hybrid workplace, you can buy some new software or tools and fix the issue.

That isn’t as easy when you’re dealing with the mental health of your employees. One of the things you can do is let employees choose when to work. They can work around their at-home schedules, which puts them at ease. 

It’s also important that the managers show care and initiative. Ask employees during check-ins if they want to talk about their overall or mental health. Listen and see if you can offer advice on what changes might be beneficial. 

Employee Wellbeing

When you see the person face-to-face, it’s easy to tell if they’re stressed or upset. However, it’s less likely to happen during brief video meetings or texted check-ins. Make sure to schedule time for an in-person meeting once a week or every two weeks. Your employees are sure to be thankful that you care. 

Another option to fix this issue is to offer better health insurance. That way, employees want to go to the doctor and take care of themselves. It should include mental health visits so that people can talk about problems when they are having a hard time in their professional or personal lives. 

7. How the Office Runs

How the Office Runs

Since some people are working at home every day, you need to change the way the office runs. These working challenges are quite easy to handle, especially when you have a flexible workspace. This means that your employees aren’t stuck at the same desk or assigned one. They can use any available workstation to complete their work. 

If you have limited space, this is a great fix to such difficult problems with the hybrid workplace. You may have more open areas where people can sit and talk about work in comfortable chairs and get rid of the cubicles and offices. 

However, to do this effectively, you must think about hoteling office space efficiently. Autonomous has a hybrid OS that can help you determine what workstations are open and what they offer, such as printers, fax machines, or comfortable chairs. 

Conclusion

Many companies are now turning to the hybrid work model, but they didn’t realize the hybrid work challenges and problems it presents. 

Typically, these hybrid work challenges are borne from the need to provide consistency for every employee, whether they’re at the office or working remotely.

With that said, it is important to understand these working challenges that you and others might face. From there, you can find ways to fix the problems with a hybrid workplace, which ensures that it succeeds instead of fails.

Conclusion

Ultimately, many hybrid model problems can be fixed with the right hybrid work software, developing a flexible workplace, and choosing appropriate communication tools. Autonomous is a leader in smart products. From its SmartDesk Hybrid to JAM to the Hybrid OS, it’s easier to bring everyone together, whether they’re at home or in the office. 

In fact, you can even offer to buy everyone new office equipment for their homes. If they plan to work at home two to four days a week, it’s imperative that they’re comfortable and ready for anything. 

Regardless of whether you’re buying new equipment to keep morale up or focusing on culture, there are many challenges of working remotely. It’s up to you to figure out what they are and how to fix or prevent them. That way, your hybrid work model is a success and the talk of the business world.

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WRITTEN BYAutonomous

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