With the COVID 19 Pandemic changing the entire way that the world works, it’s becoming more and more evident that these changes are going to stick around during the post pandemic era for the hybrid workforce. The world is probably going to keep shifting towards a state of having a hybrid workplace, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, the one thing most people don’t think of whenever they consider a hybrid work model is the power levels involved.
The differences between those working at home and those coming into the office are capable of creating power struggles and differentials that can damage relationships and collaboration. You might not think that power struggles can come out by people working in two different places, but they can, and it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen with your hybrid way of working.
There are two variables that you need to look at to make sure you can manage the power, and that you understand the hybrid workplace meaning. The first is hybridity positioning, and the second is hybridity competence. If you can manage these, the hybrid work model gets even easier to work with.
Why Does Power Matter?
Looking at hybridity positioning first, this is all about resource access. We’ve all had those moments where you are working from home, only to realize that the document or presentation you needed was inside of the work office and you can’t get to it. Employees that are in the office tend to have more access to the documents and resources available to them to do their jobs effectively, giving them an advantage over their work from home counterparts.
They also have access to information from gatherings in their hybrid workplace with hybrid way of working (such as water cooler conversations and the knowledge of their peers) as well as the support of other people around them. At any point, someone inside of an office can walk over to a cubicle and ask for more help from someone else, and they can get that knowledge and community that you don’t get from a hybrid way of working. It creates productive work environments.
The employees who work alone at home are only given access to the type of knowledge that they can find on the internet. After all, they need to deal without having access to the specialized computers and office structures that allow them to do their jobs and get much of the information from secondhand sources.
They also need to deal with slow network speeds in their hybrid workplace, the distractions of home life, and the inability to use certain resources from home. They could have all their work done weeks in advance, but their employer won’t see it because they are limited by slow internet and need to turn everything in one at a time.
Remote workers are also more isolated, and while some people really like that, others can feel like they are missing out. If you miss informal gatherings and formal ones, it can leave you feeling out of the loop.
Finally, as a remote worker, it can feel like you are never ‘seen’ by your bosses and fellow employees with a hybrid way of working. In some cases, they might not recognize how hard you are working, because it's much easier to quantify a completed stack of reports a worker turns in. If you turn in all your completed items via email, then it just doesn’t pack the same punch.
Plus, if a boss sees you working hard at your standing desk and getting work done, then your efforts can be seen and recognized much more than if you are working a dozen miles away, in a hybrid workplace. If you are seen, you should more than likely come to mind when it comes time to pick new projects. Working remotely, it can be impossible to see all the late nights and early mornings you are putting in to get all the work done.
The power level can dramatically shift and sway in favor of the employees who are there at the office, and that means that they get more opportunities for advancement while you are left holding the bag.
Looking At Hybrid Competence
There are two different types of people, those who love hybrid working from home with a hybrid way of working and those who are more of an office dwelling person. If you are a hybrid employee you can’t just have your foot in one camp or the other, you need to be able to transition from both worlds with ease and do whatever your boss needs.
If you are the type of employee who can both build relationships and seek out new ways to solve problems but can also buckle down and get things done in a distraction filled world, you’ve got a major advantage.
Being flexible with what you can do and having a high level of adaptability and awareness can benefit you and bring up your competence. However, if you aren’t skilled at moving between both worlds and have trouble building relationships and other items can find themselves seeming like they are always the last to find out about certain things. That’s not what you want in a flexible working model.
Hybrid competence is a skill that can be learned, and even if you are in a bad hybrid position, if you are competent, you can do just fine and make it work. If you have low hybrid competence and don’t know what you are doing, then the highest advantaged position is not going to help you unless you learn to become competent.
Learning hybrid competence and hybrid way of working with hybrid workplace models is going to take practice and patience. You need to get started by building relationships, taking initiative, and making sure to keep yourself in the know about what is going on at your workplace. This also means that you can’t be isolated, but instead need to focus on building relationships even if you are out of the workplace.
You should get the skill set eventually, just remember that it can be learned. After a while of building relationships and making sure that you are always taking initiative, you can become the most adaptable person in the business, and everyone likes that. Plus, who doesn’t like being able to crush work both in the workplace and at their home, combine it to create a hybrid workplace? It always feels good to be in total control.
How Do Managers Manage A Hybrid Workforce and Hybrid Workplace?
Of course, a hybrid working can be incredibly hard to manage on the manager’s end. If you happen to always be inside of the office, you can have your finger on the pulse and see what your office-based employees are doing. However, that isn’t always true with the remote worker employees, who you might have less intel on. This can make it seem like the workers on site are always being favored because you can see their process, and that’s not fair to your remote workers.
One of the first ways to overcome this hurdle is to track and communicate the different schedules of your team. You should know who is working from where and when and should have this information available at all times. Make sure that you have an eye on all of your team members exclusively and connect with them on a regular basis, either one on one or through team meetings, and see what challenges they are facing.
You should also keep in mind that power imbalance is going to happen, but it should be a moving scale. In some cases, your remote workers are going to hold all the power and in other cases, it can be the opposite. Still, you should keep a close eye on it in your hybrid workplace and make sure that you are intervening whenever the power is stagnant for too long.
This typically means that you should be shifting access to resources, allowing your remote workers to be on par with your in office team, or improving your visibility levels and how they are accounted for. It’s a constantly moving process, but it needs to be done and needs to be a part of what you do every single day.
Finally, you need to focus on education in your hybrid workplace. The power imbalance in a hybrid workforce isn’t something that a lot of people think of, and even fewer people know about it. You should build a culture of education and trust that can have all your employees speaking up and focusing on asking for resources and help when they need it. If your employees know about the power imbalance, then they can take steps to fix it when they recognize it.
Recognizing the Strengths of A Hybrid Workforce
For all the talk about power dynamics, a hybrid workforce comes with a lot of advantages that you need to be aware of. For one, a hybrid workplace allows efficiency to trump over productivity. Employees who work from home don’t feel the need to stay inside of the office and overwork themselves, and instead, put much greater empathizes on what they can do realistically during the day.
There’s also a greater understanding of what person is responsible for what project, further allowing for better scheduling and time management at work. Getting things done effectively, rather than just getting things done, is what you need to do.
This also encourages new forms of collaboration and support through video software and other forms of connection. By forcing your employees to think outside the box in terms of working with one another, team members don’t need to be in the same location to communicate with one another. They can instead send messages through communication websites like Flock and Slack, set up team meetings, and keep one another updated through scheduling boards.
Finally, there’s a greater trend towards integrating work and life balance with people working from home and work in a hybrid workplace. Employers are giving their employees ergonomic items to provide them with a flexible workspace. This promotes employee health and also improves their productivity with how much they can get done.
Fixing The Weakness Of A Hybrid Workforce
One of the major weaknesses of the work from anywhere model and hybrid workplace is that it does have problems with scheduling. Employees who work from home, especially if they have other responsibilities (such as taking care of family) can become victims to distractions or those responsibilities. They might not have as much time to work on a project because they are watching their young children or get distracted with household chores.
One of the best ways to fix this is to have morning check ins or meetings with each of your employees and also set up a line of communication where they can reach out to you if a problem arises.
Another problem can be the struggle of adapting to two routines during a hybrid workweek and hybrid workplace model. If you are in the office from Monday to Wednesday and then at home from Thursday till Sunday, it can be easy to get those routines confused or to schedule something. This can get overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to talk to your employees and make sure that their schedules and health can handle working a hybrid week.
Finally, all the moving around and taking of work-related content home can increase the risk of data problems on your servers. Cyber-attacks can become much more common if your data is spread out and not in one central and fortified location, and it can be very hard to pinpoint and defend against weak links in the chain.
Plus, you might need to spend more money as a manager to back up, save, and make contingency plans to deal with outages and protect companies against cyber attacks.
Growing Into A Hybrid Workforce
A hybrid workforce isn’t something you magically create, but instead, it is something you grow into. Your business, employees, and management are all going to have to evolve, and that takes a lot of time. However, if you can leverage the strength and abilities of the hybrid workplace, then your business should only grow stronger as a result.
Make sure to take the process slow and do what you can to ensure it works for everyone, and then your business can be able to take the world of the pandemic, and the post pandemic world by storm. It can certainly give you a major advantage in the times ahead, and you can get more done than ever before.
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