As people begin to return to the office, many are wondering what the workday will look like. With more companies considering a hybrid work model, employees may find themselves in a differently configured workplace. Hybrid working models combine flexible remote working with in-office employees. Precisely how that operates depends on the organization. Some will have all staff working remotely, while others will have staff return to the office full-time. Other businesses may require all employees to be in the office for a percentage of each workweek. No matter the model, employees will have to adjust to the next normal.
Hybrid Work Environments
In hybrid workplaces, not everyone is in the office at the same time. That means developing procedures that can facilitate productive work environments. A recent survey found that employees would like to work remotely three days a week, while executives would prefer employees to be in the office three days a week. Regardless of how many days employees are in the office, most teams will rarely have all members in the office at the same time.
Organizations will need tools to facilitate hybrid meetings. Being prepared with well-constructed agendas helps focus discussions, especially if distributed early, so attendees have time to prepare. Employees will not be able to walk down the hall to ask a quick question. They will need ways to share notes, comments, and questions. The more collaborative the hybrid environment, the better employees can achieve their goals.
Hybrid Office Concept
Hybrid offices may be smaller with fewer workspaces. Why maintain office space for every employee when only a percentage of the staff will be in the office at one time? Without a dedicated space, employees will not have the ability to leave work at the office. Having a place to keep shared information that is easily accessible makes working in a hybrid environment more productive.
Less office space can significantly lower costs in areas where office space is expensive. Some businesses may create small satellite offices where co-located team members can gather for in-person meetings as well as remote communication with other satellite offices. The complexity of mixed work environments requires hybrid workplace policies that clearly outline expectations.
Coordination will be key to making the most out of time in the office. Some companies may designate certain days of the week as meeting or no-meeting days. Others may stipulate that Thursdays are for specific groups, such as marketing meetings. Employers and employees will need to be intentional when it comes to how the workweek is arranged.
Hybrid Working Challenges
Hybrid working environments are not without challenges. One area is ensuring that a remote workforce is not overlooked. All employees do not have equal access to resources, and many employees may lack the skills to operating effectively in a hybrid. Those limitations may make it difficult for employees to move from a virtual to a physical office space. Managers need to make sure that they are in touch with all employees. Businesses should establish technology and workplace protocols to make it easier for remote and in-person workers to participate equally.
When conducting meetings, managers should use tools that enable equal participation among all attendees. They need a space to store meeting information that is readily accessible by everyone. They have to be aware of the possible barriers to effective communication and try to eliminate them. The more connected the workforce, the more engaged they become.
It helps to equalize the interactions. If an onsite meeting includes remote workers, try having everyone participate virtually. Companies should also be aware of possible burnout. Managers should look to shorten meetings by setting clear objectives and develop guidelines as to how long meetings should last. No meetings should go beyond the workday, even when team members work remotely.
Even more than meetings need to be well-managed. Many employees are exhausted after a year of meeting after meeting. Making sure that pre-work is done and agendas are distributed can help relieve meeting fatigue. Having a place to share and access information makes it easier for attendees to follow up on assigned tasks. They can still experience the interaction of in-person meetings even when remote.
When planning successful hybrid meetings, make sure to provide times for each topic and adhere to those times. With meeting fatigue, letting meetings go too long can result in disengaged attendees. Once attendees stop participating, the meeting’s effectiveness declines, often resulting in a second meeting to cover the same topics. Managers will have the responsibility to ensure that employees are communicating and engaged. They must go to the extra effort to ensure that every employee has the resources necessary to traverse the hybrid working environment.