How to Make the Hybrid Workplace Fair
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With the waves of the Covid-19 pandemic wave, playing between a high and low, companies are struggling to keep up with the rules of opening offices or having employees from home/ remotely. This model of working from office and home has had its own set of challenges and benefits.
Employees enjoy low commute time, a better family work-life balance, and more. Though the challenges of feeling isolated and cut-off, low visibility with leadership, low connect and missing coffee table conversations has proven to be taking their toll.
Post pandemic, as offices prepare to welcome back the workforce, more than half of them (57%) want to continue with the new normal of working from home. These 57% folks expect to be in office for ten days or less each month. The need to get into office should be minimal as and when required.
The other half, on the contrary, is tired of being disturbed by family members while working from home, as space is limited. Weak network connectivity, poor computer systems, missing the culture of the office and a getaway from the family and more, makes them get back to the workplace.
With these varying challenges of the workforce, companies are considering a hybrid workplace. A hybrid workforce is enabled when employees have the flexibility to get to the office as business requires. Companies are wooing competent talent with flexibility as an option.
The challenges a flexible working model poses on the company’s culture, employee morale, and employee productivity are numerous.
While hybrid workforce meaning may differ, based on company policies and one's own interpretations, a quicker adaptation to this model is the way-out for businesses.
What is Fairness at Workplace?
Many companies are bound by traditional thinking wherein employees have to come into a workplace for a minimum of eight or nine hours (per local regulations). If an employee is not seen at work, it is assumed that he is on leave.
In a hybrid work environment, you could expect various concerns like 'why is he getting to work from home when I have to come to the office?' Being in the office is seen as busy at work and highly productive. Work gets done faster as one has an easier approach to work colleagues, formally and informally. The systems at the workplace are much faster, with network & technology being secure. Being in the office gives you more visibility with your leadership and colleagues. You can also take part in informal coffee catch-ups and more.
‘Is less seen and easily forgotten?’
Is that true wonder employees working from home or in an office away from one’s ‘boss’ office location/building? One tends to have lower visibility, network and connectivity issues & concerns, feeling isolated as informal events occur at the office. This could leave an employee working from home quite distraught and frustrated. Managers must be better prepared to manage teams in a virtual world, especially when team members work remotely.
Forbes reports the importance of managing workforce expectations in the new normal. Early movers have adapted numerous hybrid working software that is available to manage their workforces.
How Do You Instil Fairness at Workplace?
As companies are rethinking ways to transform into the new normal hybrid working space, traditional models of company culture are shaken. Companies need to connect with their employees to establish a sense of fairness by either maintaining the previous company culture with minor tweaks or making a change.
Instilling fairness at the workplace – top five practices
1. Focus on Business Goals
A manager needs to be transparent with his team. Leadership will need to ask managers to display fairness at work to their teams. Business goals will be the decision-making rationale. As an employee working on a project, getting help from a team member in the office ensures that the entire team is winning, not an individual employee. There are no individual wins. Managers will need to practice and demonstrate this. There is little room for ego clashes or personality differences.
2. Encouraging Trust
As employees start hybrid work from home, managers will have to display actions of trust. The way you speak and non-verbal gestures in an audio-visual call are more visible than spoken words. Coaching managers and employees will be a key skill to practice.
Some companies like Ernst & Young have accepted a pet or a family member walking in while a meeting is in progress. There has been little pushback by managers and leaders. They have welcomed this change.
The pandemic has affected everyone; not a single soul has missed either the psychological or physical trauma either in family, in person, or reported in the media. Some have lost family members, folks; others have seen the worst of any sickness, covid, strike their loved ones.
Managers will need to maneuver skillfully as they step on the pedal or ease up on the pedal with timelines and expectations with team members. Empathy in a hybrid work environment will take top priority to instill fairness in the workplace.
4. Work Dynamics
While pandemic forces businesses to work remotely, not every business can encourage work from home only. Hybrid workforces need to understand that collaboration, teamwork, working together in a central office make communication and understanding others point of view easier than in a video conferencing.
Leadership will need to signal, display and communicate, on being approachable and open. Most employee surveys always highlight the missing sense of direction and little or no communication when a change is effected or when a ship is in turmoil. The challenges posed by hybrid remote working can be turned around to a win for any company as long as it is managed well.
To wrap up, transitioning to a hybrid workplace is a necessity. An early transition is sure to spell success for companies.
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